What’s wrong with this picture? It hasn’t been photo-shopped or altered, and it’s certainly a real hummingbird. Oddly enough, these tropical migratory birds have been known to overwinter on several occasions. Nobody really knows why they would even want to stay and brave such harsh weather, especially when all their buddies head south… a mere 3 to 5 thousand miles! This nectar can’t be all that special?
On Cape Cod, there was even a big news story last year, where one lonely Ruby Throated was made famous! A few residents were hanging heat lights over their hummingbird feeders to keep nectar from freezing! Another reported bird made headlines in North Carolina too.
Regardless of what Punxsutawney Phil decides, hummingbird feeders should be out, filled and ready before the birds actually make their way to your neck of the woods. Project Ruby Throat and some other sites even track the great migration, with reports of the first birds arriving from the south and their directional sprawl north, east and west.
Since hummingbirds are so darn territorial, it might be a good idea to start thinking about adding an additional feeder this year, especially if you’d like to see more of the buzzing antics in your yard. If you hosted them last year… the same ones will likely return! And if you’ve never made your own nectar… this is definitely the season to start! We think the birds prefer the home made solution over commercial mixes any day. NO red dye needed. The recipe is so simple, it’s table sugar (cane sugar only) and water… that’s it! Check out some suggested plantings (along with the recipe) that will help lure the birds as well.
And make a vow to keep feeders fresh this year, hummingbirds may not return to a feeder that has spoiled nectar. Every two to three days nectar should be changed in the height of summer and extreme temps. You may not want to fill the feeder all the way unless most of the nectar is being used in between cleaning and filling.
Here’s hoping for an early spring!
Although it makes an awesome feeder, the All Season’s Wren Casita edible birdhouse is the perfect nest site-for more than just wrens. Some folks have inquired how to re-seed them for extended use as feeders. I suppose peanut butter might work as a good base… but the manufacturer sure isn’t giving away their secret so fast!
So just how does one encourage nesting? It’s all about habitat, so start by offering a fresh water source. No fancy-pants birdbath needed, (unless you’d like one in your yard) something as simple as a plant saucer filled with water works great. On the deck, step, rail, tree stump…wherever! Drill three holes in the sides of a plastic one and make a quick hanging bath should ground predators lurk in your yard (cats). Optimal depth is just 2-3 inches for birds to bathe and wade comfortably. If your dish or saucer is deeper, consider a large rock in the center for birds to perch, or lining the bottom with river rock, or a few layers of pebbles.
Next… nesting materials! Again, you can do this one yourself, no fancy store-bought kits necessary (but we do offer some cool ones). Figure out a vessel to hold the materials; a suet cage works great, as does a mesh produce bag from the grocery store (like the kind apples come in). Then start to gather the goods! Some favorites include:
- Decorative mosses like Spanish, sphagnum, green sheet moss, raffia, and that dried straw stuff. Pluck some from one of your house plants!
- Feathers are adored by tree swallows, and bluebirds have been known to add a few here and there as well. Really cheap at a craft store, or any un-dyed feather duster will do-preferably clean.
- Bright cotton yarns, save these from anywhere you can
- Pet hair is huge favorite of chickadees, titmice, wrens and others. (Not recommended if treated with flea/tick medication)
Live anywhere near a horse farm? Horse hair is the best, and we give it away in the spring! The key is to get the materials out before nesting season actually starts. That way birds see it and become familiar, knowing that when it’s time, the goods are right there for the pickins! Avoid placing materials in any birdhouses as avian amigos prefer to do their own decorating! Simply hang from a branch where they’ll see it. Also, don’t pack the vessel too tightly, as you’ll want the materials to dry quickly after a rain shower.
Offering nesting materials will absolutely encourage nest building around your yard, and extend the use of that edible birdhouse!
Thanks for housing the birds 🙂
I’ll bet not. Most backyard birding folks hate them… with a passion! Not only for raiding bird feeders, they’ve also been known to destroy nests, eggs and hatchlings of favorite songbirds.
Can’t say I ever fed one by hand, but ours are pretty spoiled! They never mess with any of the bird feeders or houses, but it’s not for lack of trying! EVERYTHING has a baffle, and they really work at keeping the critters at bay. This minimizes frustration to the max, and it’s got to be the best solution to bird feeding in peace. It’s no wonder they make about 5000 different models of squirrel-proof bird feeders, predator guards for houses, and baffles for poles!
Do I appreciate them? Hmmmmm? I could do without them, but in feeding the birds, squirrels are just a part of the gig. I don’t hate them, or there wouldn’t be food out for the crafty critters in the first place. They have one of those Bungee Cord squirrel feeders, and they get a corn/sunflower/peanut mix in a big saucer. When it’s really cold, they get Peter Pan peanut butter smeared on a tree trunk too! They always have access to fresh water, and I even put a squirrel house up this year… but I’ve never seen them use it. Actually, they have it pretty darn good around here. The fridge can be empty… but the birds and squirrels will always have food 🙂
Whether the bird feeder is pole-mounted or hangs… there’s a baffle to accommodate it. If you’re one who does not appreciate these furry friends and are fed up with their antics… maybe it’s time to get serious and install baffles? You’ll be really glad you did, and will save money in the long run.
So just how did rodents earn an “appreciation day” anyway? For some unbeknownst reason, the universe made them kinda cute. And it’s pretty weird that even when they get old, they still retain their good looks, wit and charm. Bet this couple really appreciated his antics – what a keeper of a photo!