Friday, May 6, 2011

Farm Friend Friday: Hummingbirds

Dozens of hummingbirds at a time visit our feeders

One of the animals we consider family on our farm is the humminbird. Black Chins and Ruby Throats begin showing up in early March. I put out a couple of quart sized syrup feeders for them. We use a 1 sugar : 4 water ratio and we don't heat it as it becomes too time consuming as the weeks advance.

 They don't seem to mind my presence

In April the males are flying their daredevil J dances, taking nosedives zzzzzzz zzzzzzz zzzzz to impress the right girl. I have seen a perched female with her head going up and down, back and forth as if she were watching a tennis match.

As mating season begins, the females start coming to my office window to remove spiderwebs which they use to bind the lichen together to form their nests. They will lay only two small eggs in these tiny nests no bigger than a golf ball. Once the ladies begin sitting on nests activity at the feeders will suddenly decrease by half; after the babies are born in the summer it will greatly increase again.

 One of the nests I discovered a couple years ago, photographed without a zoom lens

Over the years I've taken part in many area hummingbird banding projects. What we've learned is that these birds are very territorial, that the same birds will patronize the same feeder on the same day each year. Birds at one feeder are likely related. As the different families have grown, so has my need for lager feeders. Currently they are consuming two gallons a day! I've also had occasion to rescue a few.

This bird got stuck in the grape jelly set out for the Oriole, was cleaned and released

Tired of filling quart feeders 2-3 times a day, I recently decided to hang chicken waterers to make my life easier. These have been ideal. They are inexpensive, unbreakable, easily cleaned, and red. I just measure four cups of sugar and fill the rest with water. The generous lip allows for a couple dozen birds to feed simultaneously.

Throughout my life wild (and domestic) animals have trusted me, but I do seem to have a special relationship with these birds. Here are a couple videos I hope you'll watch and know you will enjoy. The first one Farmer Rick took of me hanging the feeder. Amazingly they even land on my hands. The second one I took holding the camera in front of my face, so you can experience what I do when I feed them. Be sure to have the sound turned up on that one to hear their chirps and the whirring of their wings!

I even enjoy painting them.

For more animals friends, be sure to visit Farm Friend Friday!


Nancy said...

1. I love your new blog format.
2. The chicken waterer for hummingbirds is genius.
3. I cannot believe how many hummingbirds you have and how tame they are.
4. Your painting is amazing. So talented! Just beautiful. :)

Brenda said...

You are wonderful artist! How long does it take the hummers to drink that amount of sugar water?

Anonymous said...

Wow! Great photos and fascinating information!

flowerweaver said...

Each of the two gallon feeders will last only a day. I fill the feeders every morning. Currently I'm going through eight cups of sugar a day! Since sugar syrup can spoil in the heat it's important not to mix more than they can consume in a couple days. Here it doesn't last very long!

NitWit1 said...

This is most interesting. A famous resort, Gaston's Resort, has huge hummingbird feeders hung outside their highly regarded restaurant. I have no idea how they refill them as the restaurant hangs out over the White River.

love the painting and new blog format.

Ed said...

I am sooooooooooo jealous! Hummers are my favorite bird and in my case a challenge to photograph, you look like you have them landing on you just to get their pics taken..:-)

Sharon Lovejoy said...

WOWOWOWOWOW!!! I am so happy that Deborah Jean at DJ's Dandelion Wishes sent me over here. Yeah! I love this and love your kind heart and gentle ways.

Now I have to be your newest follower so that I don't lose you in the giant shuffle of blog world.

All continued joys to you,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Sharon said...

Your hummingbird pictures are so beautiful! I especially love the nest. Thanks for sharing!

Colleen said...

I love hummingbirds and you have been blessed with many. I put out a feeder this year, but there were none to be found. Thanks for sharing so those of s who don't see them much can enjoy too!

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