Hummingbirds are as much a part of summer as watermelon and wildfire.
Put out a feeder and here they come, little nasty aggressive crap-cans.
I can’t help it; I love hummers and can watch them all day. Their antics at the feeder is nothing short of fascinating because they move so incredibly fast. They’re notoriously territorial and aggressive towards their peers and there are hourly battles at the feeder.
There are 11 species of hummers in Colorado and I admit mine move too fast for me to pull out the “Birds of Colorado Field Guide” and try to figure out if it’s a Calliope or Ruby-throated or a Broad-tail. I’ve only been able to capture a few photos of them. Patience is the key.
Hummers have distinct features: their wings beat approximately 50 times a second which means fly really, really fast. They rocket around and have great maneuvering capabilities and dive-bomb with Kamikaze recklessness.
They also make a sound similar to a 1970 Volkswagon Beetle that’s low on oil. A tinny sound that is undeniably hummer because they zip by so fast. You often hear hummers before you see them.
They’re also decorated with stunning colors ranging from brown to peacock blue. They shine like they’re lit from inside.
They go through sugar-water in just a few days and have a voracious appetite.
Feeders go up in the beginning of May but this year my hummers didn’t show up until almost the start of June. We had a good snowfall in May and even though it was cold and snowy, it was still important to put up the feeders. Low and behold, hummers showed up, ate and retreated to their snowy perches.
There are so many feeders to choose from and I’m using a glass one purchased last year. The red is worn off the “flowers” that the hummers stick their noses/beaks whatever into but they still drink away. I’ve used plastic feeders but it’s easier to keep glass clean.
I’ve been buying Perky Pet hummingbird food since I moved to the Bar B. It’s BRIGHT red to attract hummingbirds but the red dye used can be harmful to them. Lately, I’ve been making my own hummer food and the census at the feeder has risen. I’m considering putting out a second feeder.
I thought the lack of red would mean no more hummers but it hasn’t stopped them. I think they have radar and like salmon return to the area where they were hatched. It just doesn’t take seven years for that to happen.
Before adding new feed, it’s important to clean the feeder thoroughly in hot, soapy water as mold can build up and make the hummers sick.
The recipe is easy: 1 part sugar to 4 parts pure water. Place the water and sugar together in a pan and heat to boiling. Cool and put in the feeder. My feeder mixture is 1/4 cup sugar and 1 cup water. The mixture should be changed every week.
During the time I have hummers, I take down the regular bird feeders. They’re not supposed to be fed during the summer and frankly, my cats have done a great job of chasing them away. Not like Jack and Nina that would sit in the window and watch the birds go bat-shit over Kaytee Fruit and Nut Blend Wild Bird Food.
Hummers will stick around until September then they head back from wherever it is they winter over.
There’s something about hummingbirds. Their size, energy and zest is intoxicating. In the summer there’s time to sit outside with a cool drink to watch and listen for them. It’s quintessentially summer.