When we lived up in New Hampshire, I had a hummingbird feeder that I would hang out in our front yard. There were at least 3 or 4 ruby-throated hummingbirds that would frequent it. It was fun to watch them because the males, who are very territorial, would occasionally face off in an aerial dance of sorts, right outside our front door window. They are very bold little birdies.
When we moved down to Lower Alabama, I didn’t put out any feeders and never saw any hummingbirds in the area, even though we had roses and other flowers. However, up here in central Alabama, it’s a different story. I was so excited when, just a few weeks ago, I heard the unmistakeable buzz of the little critter. So I dug out a hummingbird feeder, made some nectar, and hung it out front on a plant hanger. I wasn’t sure if it would attract any birds, however, because it was only a few feet off the ground and not in the best location. Sure enough, after a week or so, the nectar level hadn’t dropped and I knew it was a flop.
I decided to rig up a feeder in the backyard, but had to keep it out of reach of our Skye-dog. I ended up hanging it from the clothesline with a little hook fashioned from a piece of a metal coat hanger. I slathered a little bit of petroleum jelly on the hanger to discourage any potential ambitious ants. Well, within less than five minutes (yay!), a little hummingbird was flitting around, checking out and, finally, sipping away! I was elated! Still in my Yankee ingenuity/MacGyver mode, I fashioned another coat hanger hanger and put up the other feeder on a limb on the opposite side of the tree.
As the week passed, I noticed there were two hummingbirds, both ruby-throated males who, like their Northern cousins, can’t stand to be anywhere near each other. As much as they chase each other around, it’s no wonder they have such appetites! You would think with TWO feeders, they’d share, but…no. Hang in there, I am about to get to the meat of the story.
We’ve been having a LOT of rain in Alabama, this summer. It hasn’t been bad enough to cause flooding in our area, but, nonetheless, it’s been cloudy, cooler than average and/or rainy almost every day for the majority of the summer. Last week was a particularly rainy week, with almost daily downpours and it occurred to me that the nectar in the feeder bowls might have gotten watered down. I was wondering if it had, since the hummingbirds didn’t seem to be consuming it, and I thought that maybe I should change it out, but didn’t do it that day.
The next day, I was in the family room and happened to glance out the FRONT window, which is directly opposite from the the back door, from which you can watch the hummingbirds and their antics. As I looked at the front window, some noise and movement caught my eye. I looked more closely and there, hovering up and down right outside the front window, was a chittering hummingbird! After a few seconds, it zipped away and appeared at the feeders in the backyard. However, it wasn’t eating; it just sat there, on the clothesline…several minutes later, it was still sitting on the clothesline…several minutes later, it was sitting further away on the clothesline and still hadn’t eaten. That’s when I decided to make some nectar.
I quickly whipped it up and cooled it down as fast as I could, then went outside to grab the feeder from the clothesline. This whole time, the hummingbird had just been sitting there and not eating. It flew off when I opened the back door to retrieve the feeder which I emptied and washed out, filled with fresh nectar, and replaced. No joke, almost immediately, the hummingbird came to the feeder and started drinking! Not long after his “buddy” arrived and tried to feed. The usual aerial antics ensued, of course, so I re-filled the other feeder, as well.
I was amazed at what had just occurred! I swore that little bird had come to the front window to get my attention as in, “Hey! Lady! The nectar’s watered down! What kind of a place are you running? We need a fresh refill! Help!!” I raved about it to both the kids, who had witnessed it all. We all thought it was pretty cool! I wondered if they were really that smart and concluded that they must be. Based on a few websites I visited, they apparently have the largest brain in proportion to their body than any other bird species, and have fantastic memories. Below are two websites with hummingbird information, including the nectar recipe. Hopefully at some point in the future, I can get and post a photo of one of the birds at our feeders. They are just the neatest little feathered creations!