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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Why Does the Hummingbird Hum

Why Does the Hummingbird Hum?
My Red- Headed Girl would say "because they don't know the words. 



(Here is my red headed girl and her brother, Lil bud, with the rufous, black-chinned, and calioipe hummingbirds in the foothills of the blue mountains, spring 2005.)



Maintaining a hummingbird feeder takes time and sugar. (Four parts water, one part Sugar) It isn't necessary to boil the water. I do, however, heat the water in order to mix the sugar well.

It's the itty bitty birds that introduce bacteria to your feeding solution. That is why I wash the feeder and replace the solution every three days; every two days if the temperature is over 90 degrees.

Hummingbirds are awesome little feeding machines. Many people don't realize that the bird only fuels up on sugar water and flower nectar (a form of sucrose) to provide the energy required for the chase of soft-bodied insects, including spiders.

The Cistena Plum tree is a favorite haunt for the hummingbirds in our yard. The compost bins sit behind it and attract a multitude of tiny flies.

While in Sacramento, I helped Red-Headed Girl clean and fill their neglected feeder. Anna's Hummingbirds were there within several hours.

Late in the evening we listened to them chirping in the trees around the house. They chased each other through the branches, their big voices defying their tiny penny-weight bodies. I invite you to listen to one here.

Can you find a hummingbird silhouette in this photo I took while my Red-Headed Girl and I were enjoying the hot summer evening? (It was H.O.T in Central California. Way too H.O.T)



Here's a zoom in to show you its little beak open, chirping with gusto.



Soon all the hummingbirds in my little valley will be heading south, some as far away as Central America. I'm delighted when they stop in my garden to rest and refuel.

In Sacramento, my little Red-Headed Girl may be able to enjoy Anna's Hummingbirds on their patio year round if she keeps the sugar water fresh and the feeder well-maintained.

25 comments:

Donetta said...

Great photo of his. Your red headed friend is beautiful. I'm glad you had a nice visit

Debs said...

I love watching my hummingbirds. I love to watch them "fight" over the feeders. Their chirping noise brings joy to my heart.

ChrisB said...

It seems like a lot of work to keep up the feeding regime but well worth it I'm sure for all the pleasure you get from watching and listening to them.

nikki said...

I love to sit at my mom's house and listen to her hummingbirds argue at eachother. Many people don't realize how noisy they are.

Jenni said...

You're grandaughter is beautiful! She looks a lot like you.

I didn't know all of that about hummingbirds, especially the nectar and sugar water as fuel. I've seen a hummingbird out here just twice. Maybe we will have to put a feeder out next year to attract them.

Karmyn R said...

You are better than me about cleaning - I clean every 4 days (5 if I forget) and they still come to it. Winter is better - it can go almost a whole week.

Melissa said...

That picture is so awesome. All your bird posts inspire me to get some feeders. i'll need advice in the spring. :)

Shelby said...

oh I simply must get a hummingbird feeder :)

PEA said...

I make the syrup the same way you do:-) I have two hummingbird feeders hanging in front of my kitchen window and being able to watch them while I wash dishes actually makes it pleasant washing dishes! lol xox

kailani said...

Wow, I couldn't even find him in the first photo. They're so pretty.

coffeypot said...

But it takes so many of them to make a decent meal.

Hayden said...

hurrah! thanks for posting this! a couple of years ago I posted that I'd watched a hummingbird lick the aphids off of the twigs of a bush, and was rounded hooted. 'everyone knows hummingbirds don't eat bugs!' I was told.

including some self-styled bird-meister who tried to impress me with his credentials.

I let it drop, but I was pretty sure that's what I'd seen. Given the scale of aphids and the size of hummers, I couldn't swear to it, but it was the only thing that made sense. The hummer was intently doing SOMETHING on twigs covered with aphids and no flowers. and aphids are known to secret a sweet fluid, so I figured they must be extra yummy.

Whippersnapper said...

They've been mentioning the heat wave in California on the radio. Stay cool!

(Or are you already back?)

Masago said...

Cute. :-)

ablondeblogger said...

Aww..beautiful red hair! I'm a natural redhead myself (shhh...don't tell anyone, lol). I had red hair until I was three, then blonde until I had kids, and now I make sure it stays blonde, lol.

Such a cool pic of the hummingbird in the tree! I don't think I've ever seen one like that...sitting still with its beak open.

swajmpy said...

H-u-m-m-m-m-m!
Most of mine have headed south. Only about 3 remain.
I am sad.
Great pics.

BarnGoddess said...

red-headed girl is beautiful!

what a neat post. The photos were excellent. I do not feed the hummingbirds but they frequently buzz outside my kitchen windows.

and, I thought they only ate sugary stuff and nectar. I did not know they ate bugs too!

mjd said...

I love hummingbirds, but we have not had much success attracting them. Maybe we are not dedicated enough to upkeep the feeding. My sister-in-law, who knows a lot about birds like you, has hummingbirds visiting her home and all kinds of other birds.

Cute joke...

Beccy said...

That is one beautiful red headed girl, I hope she keeps the humming birds coming.

Heather said...

Ooh, ooh! I found out, even without the extra help. Do I get a prize?

judypatooote said...

I'm glad you mentioned about changing the sweet water...I haven't had anyhumming birds, and the feeder is hanging above red flowers...I thought they liked red flowers....and my sweet water is red..... that is a really cool picture....

and is the red headed girl your daughter ? She's beautiful....

Mert said...

How beautiful! I keep meaning to buy a feeder, but somehow the need for diapers always wins out. ;)

Not for me, for Emma, silly!

Walker said...

Thanks for the tip on washing the feeders. I'll do mine more often!

Susie Q said...

What a beauty your red headed girl is...I love red heads. So lovely.

I loved this post...and it made me smile when I thought about my late FIL and his hummingbird feeder. It was one of his pure joys late in his life. Thank you for the smile and the info!

Just love to come here and read...always a smile!

Hugs,
Sue

Robin said...

I don't clean my feeder often enough, but I've learned not to fill it full to prompt me to do so more often.

I DID see the little fella, but the close up was so much better! I'm impressed you were able to get these shots at all (they move so quickly).

She is a doll, little RHG of course :).