We received a hummingbird feeder as a gift in the mail (thanks, Mom!) and I put it out last night. It was almost dark by the time the water had cooled enough to put it outside, so we didn’t have any visitors; but this morning, as soon as we were up and having breakfast, the birds were too!
We read a bit about hummingbirds and it turns out that they fiercely defend food sources as soon as they find them. Sure enough, there was lots of action around the feeder this morning. The first bird to find the feeder had a good long drink, and as soon as she saw another bird approach, she darted after it, chasing it away. We also read that the females use their tails to make territorial displays — fanning and flitting them up and down to show their distinctive tail markings. We saw this over dinner tonight and I realize that I had seen this behaviour many times in the past, but always just thought the bird was stabilizing itself in the air.
If you’d like to get your own hummingbird feeder, the recipe for the nectar is really simple: 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. I started with 1/2 a cup of sugar and added 1 cup of boiling water (having the water boiling helps dissolve the sugar). I then added a cup of cold tap water to cool things down. The feeder should probably not be put out until the nectar no longer feels warm. Do not put food colouring in the water. The birds are attracted to the little flowers at the bottom of your feeder, not the colour of the liquid. Colouring the water just exposes them to unnecessary chemicals. Birds don’t need these artificial chemicals which may even be harmful to them. (I’d also argue that we shouldn’t be eating food colouring either!)
Over the next few days I’ll try to snap a few photos of the birds at the feeder. In the meantime, here’s the view from one of our windows. (Oh yeah, did I mention we moved out of our temporary accommodations into a house?!) This garden next door is absolutely incredible. No wonder so many hummingbirds are hanging around here!