Hummer Summer 2013
Brenda S. Brown

I enjoy watching what I imagine as the dance of the Trochilidae outside my kitchen window on this sweltering and humid early summer morning in northern Baldwin County.  The sun has just made its daily appearance in Georgia but the hummingbirds are already buzzing around the garnet colored feeder that they seem to adore.  Early mornings and late evenings appear to be their preferred feeding times.

Hummingbirds are so agile that they can hover while they anticipate an attack, going up and down and sideways all in a matter of seconds.  Watching them protect their feeding place is amazing and mesmerizing.  There are distinct sounds that they make; we call it chatter but frequently the chirping sounds more like an argument than friendly conversation.

We only attract several birds each year but it is an especially active group this time, Emerald, Brownie, Petti and Chatty are battling each other every time I have a moment to gaze out the window.  Once in a while Woody will join the skirmish but he tends to feed when the others are resting on bare limbs, in the nearby trees, it is my guess that because he is the most mature member of the multitude, he chooses to display a calmer disposition.

Perhaps they are exercising to build up their stamina for the long trip ahead of them.  In early autumn they will suddenly depart our yard for the long trip to perhaps Mexico or Central America where they will spend the winter months.  It is hard to imagine such tiny creatures making such a long flight but apparently they do.  While they winter-over in the tropical weather zones, I miss watching them and their unique flying skills.

Because these tiny creatures can consume more than their weight in syrup a day, having enough liquid feed can become a hindrance.  You can purchase an acceptable mixture for the feeders but I make mine using the formula of 4 cups of water, boiling, and 1 cup of plain white sugar; stir until all the sweetness melts and let the concoction cool before filling the containers.

It is not necessary to color the liquid; the hummers will find the feeders and then adopt your yard for the season.  It is better to use either sterilized water or tap water that has boiled for more than two minutes; it aids in preservation and keeps the mixture from spoiling rapidly.  Store any unused portions in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before filling the feeders.

Feeders are fairly inexpensive, especially if you buy them at the end of the season, and will provide your family with hours of entertainment.  It is recommended that if you have more than one feeder that they are located far enough away that the birds cannot dominate the feedings, because, given the opportunity they will keep others from enjoying the sugar-water.

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