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Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Perfect Pets - My Hummingbirds

At our back deck in Draper, 2011
I’ve been feeding hummingbirds since about 2009 after we bought a house in Draper, Utah. The house had a covered front porch with a great view and we spent a lot of time in the summer months sitting outside. Since we were so close to the feeder, the hummingbirds got used to seeing us and would fly right up to the feeder to use it, even if I was standing right next to it. I actually got one to perch on my finger to feed as I held it up close. They provided a lot of entertainment for us during those years, the neighbors would be amazed as they talked to us and saw the birds flying around our heads.

In 2013 we decided to downsize, sold the house in Draper, and bought a double-wide mobile home in a 55 and older restricted mobile home park in Taylorsville. We bought in September and the following spring I put out a feeder under our covered deck and have been maintaining it every year since. After replacing the old deck last August I’ve been spending more time on it this summer and the current “charm” of hummingbirds have been getting more used to being around me.
Taylorsville, 2016

I make up large batches of sugar water for the feeder and keep it in the refrigerator to replenish, the birds seem to love it when I dump out the leftover warm stuff and refill with cold.
There are mature trees very close to the deck and they hang out on the branches and come quickly when they see me change out the feeder.

In fact, this year when the feeder has been getting low and warm after a couple days, I’ve had a male come flying up to within two feet of my face as I was sitting there and hover in and out for a few moments. It’s happened at least half a dozen times and seems like it’s being impatient with me for not changing out the feeder! I’m not sure if it’s the same bird every time, it looks the same size and color.

This week, a few days ago, I came home from work and noticed that the feeder was almost empty as I checked on it. I had a few things to do first, but after awhile went out to get the feeder, deciding to clean it out well with soap and water before refilling. That took some time to do in the kitchen, after getting it refilled and walking towards the front screen door, I saw a male hovering outside the window and looking in towards me with a couple others flying around. I opened the door and went out, flipped the feeder over right side up to fill the reservoir. As I held it for a moment before intending to hang it up, a female flew right up, landed on the perch and started drinking up, as I was holding it about chest high in my hand!

Pretty amazing birds, I never get tired of watching them, and it doesn’t take much effort to keep them happy! You just have to clean and replenish on a regular schedule to keep their food bacteria free so you don’t kill them. I make sure and change it every three days or less. If you decide to buy a feeder, look for one that is easy to take apart and clean. Some are very difficult to get a brush into. The formula to make sugar water is simple, 4 parts water to one part sugar, mix and bring to a boil for a minute or two. Store in the refrigerator.

A note about bees: The new wide one shown above that I bought from Lowes seems to attract a lot of bees and wasps. I discovered that the "necter" is too close to the openings and the bees can reach it. The older narrow one next to it is what I revert to when the bees start taking over. The liquid is further away and the bees give up after awhile, but it is harder to clean.

Click the following link for more info:  “Keep your hummingbird feeder so clean, that you would drink from it yourself. You don’t like to drink from a dirty glass, neither do I … and for me, it could be fatal.” ~Rita Rufous Sweetwater

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