Friday, September 9, 2011

Amazing Little Creatures……………………………………… Pam Todd

I can’t make sweaters for them, or tiny collars with flowers to put around their necks, but they are amazing to watch!  Who?  The hummingbirds that frequent our feeders every summer from spring to around October.  Not many stop by in the first couple of months of warm weather.  But, as summer progresses, and the flowers bloom less and less (even more so this year with the lack of rain), the number we see outside our front door and through the window increases until there may be 15 to 20 birds competing for space at the feeders.
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In the past few weeks, we have been making more than a gallon of nectar each day and filling the three feeders several times a day.  Two hang on hooks under the overhang on our front porch,  and a third one on a shepherd’s crook in the yard, all visible from where we sit inside the house.
You would think that with so many places to perch and sip that there wouldn’t be any fighting over the space.  But, that isn’t the case.  One hummingbird may be perched, and soon another dives straight at it to frighten it away.  Other times, we may see three or four sitting at each feeder with two or three more hovering nearby to take their turn. They are so accustomed to my husband replenishing the nectar that they fly around his head while he is serving up their next meal.
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The wing speed of these little birds is amazing!  According to the website: (where you can see many videos about hummingbirds, including a momma feeding her babies) their wings may beat up to 80 times a second. Because their wings rotate in a circular motion, they can fly forward, backward, and even upside down!  And, of course, they can hover in mid-air just like a helicopter.
Hummingbirds seem to like red, and their favorite feeder is the one that hangs by the hanging flower pot filled with red petunias.
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Hummingbirds are very particular about their nectar and like it best when it is made with one part sugar to four parts water says the information on the website above.  We usually make 6 cups of sugar to 24 cups of water (about what our biggest pot will hold), bring it to a boil to dissolve the sugar, add red coloring, and let it cool. They eagerly sip it up faster than you can imagine.  They also poke their long, slender beaks into the center of flowers, but they will not drink the nectar unless it is at least 12% sugar.  Now that’s what one might call being a finicky eater! 
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Hummingbirds need this high energy drink, particularly at this time of the year.  It is almost as if they are stocking up for their long flight back to warmer climates. I learned that hormonal changes in the birds tell them when it is time to head south.  The ruby-throated hummingbird, which is the only one that breeds east of the Mississippi River, may make a 2000-mile flight from South American to Canada in one season.  Many fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico, a flight of over 500 miles.
hummingbirds oneRight now, we are enjoying immensely watching them come and eat and well worth the sugar it takes to keep them stopping by.  And, if you should spill red food coloring on your clothes while making nectar, just send a message to me, and I’ll ask my husband to tell you his laundry secrets for getting half a bottle of red coloring out of my favorite blouse!! (
Resource for hummingbird facts:
This post written by Pam Todd, a member of the Artfire Crafting for Animals Guild, and owner of, featuring hand-crocheted items for people, pets, and homes.  Pam loves animals and learning about them, and supports the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee ( The Crafting for Animals Guild will participate in the national Adopt a Shelter Dog month in October, with a special coupon.  Many CFA shops will donate 10% of their sales during the third week in October to Close to Home, a shelter in Ohio and Pennsylvania that rescues dogs and cats that are about to be euthanized and works to find homes for them.  Watch for the coupon, and use it when you shop so we can help support this shelter.

1 comment:

Debra at Sleepy Cat Designs said...

Hummers are amazing! Thanks for all the facts and your own story. I live in SE Arizona where we have almost all species in North America that come during the spring and summer. Never get tired of seeing them!