Birding on a rainy weekend

Friday April 13th, I worked on mowing my three acres for the first time.  When the tractor got very low on diesel, I decided to call it a day.  A storm was predicted overnight into Saturday, and Levi was already hiding under the stairs in the garage.   He got a streak of courage come supper time.  While the Hooligans were eating, I sat out in the driveway taking pictures of some of the birds and flowers.  With the rain predicted, the iris blooms would be melted the next day.  The rain started Saturday morning rumbling me out of bed, and lasted until sometime Sunday morning.  We received a total of 3.14 inches during that time.  Saturday as I sat in the garden room eating breakfast, I noticed a forlorn little bird sitting on a tree branch in the monsoon, just looking miserable.  So I grabbed my camera and stood in the doorway taking pictures.   I had three hummingbird feeders up, but with the fighting, I went out in the rain to hang a couple of more.   My koi pond isn’t finished yet, and a bullfrog has moved in.  I’m still trying to figure out how it got there.


Sunday turned partly cloudy then sunny, but it was cold, with temperatures in the high forties.  While the Hooligans were eating supper, I was able to get a few pictures between shivers.  I brought in my tomato plants hopefully for the last time.  It’s been so wet, they’ll go into the flower beds this year.

If you want hummingbirds, the welcome wagon needs to be waiting on them when they arrive or else they will travel on.  A combination of sugar water and plants will keep them around.  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says there is absolutely no reason to add red dyes to hummingbird nectar. Natural flower nectar is clear. Hummingbird feeders have colorful parts that attract hummingbird.   The red dye will make the hummingbirds weak and unable to fly.  They eventually will die.   It may also cause tumors of their tongues.  I saw my first ruby-throated on March 26.  Most around right now are adult males.  I finally saw a female Saturday April 14.

Last year I rotated and used twenty feeders.   A good hummingbird feeder recipe that I use:

Boil 4 parts water for 3 minutes

Stir in 1 part pure granulated sugar

Cool to room temperature

Store remaining mix in fridge for 7 to 10 days.  When I first put my feeders up, I’ll use a coffee scoop to make up the sugar water.  As the number of birds increase, I’ll use four cups of water and one cup of sugar.   Do not substitute brown sugar. Do not add red nectar, red dye, honey or anything else.  Boiling water not only kills most bacteria and viruses, it also removes many other microorganisms and some chemicals.

Recommended Feeder Schedule change

70°-84°F: Clean feeder and replace nectar every 3 days

85°-87°F: Clean feeder and replace nectar every 2 days

88°F and up: Clean feeder and replace nectar every single day.

More about feeding hummingbirds…

Cloudy nectar indicates bacteria, which is harmful.

Discard nectar, clean the feeder and add fresh clear nectar.

Black residue indicates mold, which is harmful.

Discard nectar, clean the feeder and add fresh clear nectar.

There are several flowers and bushes that are known to attract hummingbirds.  Plants include red shades of daylilies, columbine, penstemon, cardinal flower, bee balm, hibiscus, peony, coral bells, Garden phlox, Oriental Poppy, echinacea (cone flowers), yarrow, annual red salvia, coreopsis.  Perennial Black and Blue salvia even though purple also attracts hummers.  I usually have one hanging around mine protecting it like one of the feeders.  For every one hummingbird you see, it is estimated you have six more in your area.  Most of the hummingbirds in our area are the ruby-throated.  They will guard and fight over feeders.

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