The tiny hummingbird is an amazing creature to watch and study. It’s unique characteristics set it apart from the other birds that frequent my feeders.
Just study it’s appearance! The hummer has an iridescence on its feathers that make them sparkle like jewels. Light is reflected and intensified when it hits these feathers, making the colors change when viewed at different angles.
For example, a male ruby-throated hummingbird has a throat patch that looks brilliant red if the sun is shining on it. But when viewed from different angles, it will look deep orange, green or violet and if there is no light it will appear black.
Then there’s the hummingbird’s amazing flying abilities! They can actually fly in every direction; up, down, sideways, even upside down. (Although I’ve never seen it myself!)
When they are hovering, their wings rotate at the shoulder while the wing tips trace a horizontal figure eight, allowing them to move backward and forward.
Each species of hummingbirds has unique flight patterns they use to defend their territory, attract a mate or intimidate other hummingbirds (or humans) at the feeder. These visual displays are amazing to watch as the hummers fly, dive, swoop, and arc with precision and grace.
Hummingbirds can reach speeds of 60 miles an hour in flight and fly long distances, including 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico.
All that beauty and flying ability is packed into a tiny package! A ruby-throated hummingbird weighs just 1/10 of an ounce and is just 3 3/4 inches long.
What an amazing creature!
Another great way to attract hummingbirds to your yard is to use a hummingbird feeder. Put your feeders up in the early spring when the first hummers are arriving and take them down after the last of the hummingbirds have migrated through in the fall.
It’s very easy to make a sweet syrup for the hummers to enjoy. Just mix 1 part sugar to 4 parts of water and boil for 1-2 minutes. (The boiling helps to retard fermentation.) Then cool the mixture and place it in the feeders, storing any unused portion in the refrigerator.
You should never substitute honey for the sugar because it will rapidly ferment in the sun and will grow a mold that can be fatal to hummingbirds.
There is no need to add red dye to the syrup mixture. Some people add it because hummingbirds are attracted to the color red. But it is easier and safer for the hummers to just use a red colored feeder to attract them and not use any artificial coloring in the syrup.
You will need to clean the feeders and replace the syrup every three to four days. This helps to prevent the build-up of fungi or bacteria in the feeders which causes the solution to ferment or go sour.
Just scrub the feeder with hot water and vinegar and rinse well. Then refill with syrup and place outside.
We prefer using the Woodlink Classic Hummingbird feeder because of it’s ease of use. It is dishwasher safe, so it can be be quickly taken down, put through a cycle in the dish washer, then refilled and put back out. It also has a bright red base that attracts the hummers, holds 12 oz. of nectar and has six feeding stations. (http://stores.ebay.com/mtmyhouse)
Don’t be discouraged if it takes a little time to attract hummingbirds to your yard, sometimes they arrive right away, other times it takes longer. Just keep trying other positions for your feeders and keep watching!