One of my absolute favorite things about summer is sitting on my covered side porch in my rocking chair, right next to where I have hung two red hummingbird feeders to attract and feed hummingbirds. While I rock and listen to the wrens and bluebirds sing and chirp, reading whatever book or magazine I am currently engrossed in…..I nearly hold my breath waiting for my delicate hummingbirds to arrive to drink their nectar.
You can usually hear the drumming of their wings beating before you even notice that they are nearby. And when you hear it, you want to move your head around ever so slowly, so that no sudden movements send these skittish creatures scurrying away. And when they decide that you seem to be a trustworthy fellow, they might even land on the feeder and rest their tiny wings while they dip their long beaks and tongues into the sweet sugary water and drink their fill.
My girls and I like to think of them as our own personal magical fairies.
Attracting hummingbirds is so very simple. Hummingbird feeders can be found at many mass-market retailers (such as WalMart and Target) and of course at my favorite online store- Amazon. The nectar (sugar water) can be created from white granulated sugar at a ratio of 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup of water. Boiling and then cooling this mixture before use can help deter the growth of bacteria and yeasts which “spoils” the nectar.
Here are a few cool facts about hummingbirds (excerpted from Wikipedia):
- They are the smallest species of birds
- They are the only type of bird that can fly backwards!
- With the exception of insects, hummingbirds have the highest metabolism of all animals, a necessity to support the rapid beating of their wings.
- They consume more than their own weight in nectar each day, and to do so they must visit hundreds of flowers daily. Hummingbirds are continuously hours away from starving to death, and are able to store just enough energy to survive overnight.
- The average lifespan for a hummingbird is 3-5 years.
- Hummingbirds only live in North and South America. Less than 25 species of hummingbirds have been recorded in the US, but Colombia alone has more than 160 species and Ecuador, about 130 species!
- Most hummingbirds from the US and Canada migrate south in the fall to spend their winters in Northern Mexico or Central America.