The summer of hummers ~ by Kristine Raymond

I had never seen a hummingbird in real life before moving to Kentucky 25 years ago.  Or, maybe I simply hadn't noticed them.  In my younger years, my life seemed as frenzied as those tiny birds.  I was always going off in one direction or another - sometimes, two directions at once (not really, but you get my point) - barely slowing down to catch my breath, much less appreciate the beauty that surrounded me every moment of every day.

I'm older now...eh em...more mature, and definitely wiser, and I understand the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of pressing pause once in a while; and by doing so, I'm afforded the opportunity to witness Nature's miracles. 

Copyright 2013- Kristine Raymond
Take this little guy, for instance.   Several years ago, I noticed some hummingbirds visiting a flowering vine growing up the side of our shed.  Captivated by these delicate creatures, I invested in some feeders and commercial syrup (more on that later) and made it my mission to entice as many as I could into our yard.  Each year, approximately a dozen would show up; enough that my husband and I could sit outdoors and enjoy them hovering around, stopping to take a sip of nectar before zipping off again.

We did this for several years and, let me tell you, I spent a small fortune in store-bought nectar.  So I began researching to see if there was a healthier (for the birds) and more affordable (for my budget) option and came across a simple recipe for making hummingbird syrup.

It's 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. That's it.  No dyes; no additives.  Just plain white sugar and water.  Boil the water, pour it over the sugar, stir until dissolved, let it cool, fill the feeders, then sit back and enjoy the feeding frenzy.

Copyright 2019 - Kristine Raymond

This is my second (or is it third?) year of making my own nectar.  During peak season - June, July, and August - I'm mixing up a batch and filling ten feeders daily.  That's over a gallon a day!  I guess the hummers like my cooking because they told all of their friends this year that our place is THE place to hang out.  It's challenging to get an accurate count because they move around so quickly, but my best guesstimate is between 40 and 50 birds.  For reference, there are seventeen hummers in the above picture on two out of ten feeders.

Some of them are repeat customers.  There's one bird we've affectionately named "The Screamer" because of the high-pitched noise he makes as he flies around.  Each spring, I anxiously await that first sign of their arrival - a single bird hovering around where the feeders will hang.  I start off making half a cup of syrup - just enough to feed those first few visitors tired from their journey north; adding more as one tiny body becomes two, then four, then ten, until each day I see more and more hummingbirds spiraling through the air in a breathtaking show of acrobatics.

As the summer winds down, the hummers will begin their migration south to warmer climes.  By mid-September, I'll be hanging less feeders, and by October, I'll be down to one - for those stranglers who wait until the last minute to pack up and leave.  Then they'll be sterilized (the feeders; not the birds) and stored away over winter until that first hummer appears again in the spring.

Copyright 2013 - Kristine Raymond


 

3 comments:

  1. One of my favorite things when I visit my daughter in the Seattle area is to watch the hummingbirds.

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  2. I love hmmingbirds. I've made my own syurp for years. And you're right, your supposed to clean out and refill their feeders daily. I just can't keep up with it, and we not supposed to feed them in our county. I do still have a good number come and feed from the flowers. Thanks Kristine.

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    Replies
    1. Joanne, I'm interested in why you are not supposed to feed them in your county.

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