Food Chain Farm

The Behavior of Hummingbirds
One of the most fascinating sights around our farm is watching the army of hummingbirds buzz around you head when we sit outside.  Their behavior is quite complex and we now recognize their different mating and fighting activities.  We have so many because we feed them their favorite food – sugar water.   Around dusk they all come in to "tank-up" before the sun goes down - we can have over 50 buzzing around us.  They have no fear of humans and will buzz right over your head.  Sometimes when I am putting the feeders up,  a hummingbird won't wait and will come diving in to feed.  You'll be standing there holding the feeder with a hummingbird 3 inches from your hand.  You can see every minature detail on its iridescent body.


More hummingbird pictures here.

There is quite a ritual to making the hummingbird “nectar”.  The ratio is to boil 4 cups water to 1 cup sugar and it has to be regular sugar not honey.  In the summer, they will consume 5 liters of the stuff and it keeps me busy making it up for them. This is great fun when it coincides with an invasion of ants looking for the very sugar water sitting on my stove cooling down.  I save all my liter seltzer bottles and actually have a small refrigerator on the patio just to keep the nectar.  When we go away in the summer, I need to make up enough for 5 liters a day for the housesitter.  I have freezer to hold the extra I need to make (do the math – 5 liters a day times 24 days – phew!)  The nectar does not keep long so I freeze them for long trips.

I am very particular about Hummingbird feeders.  I like the plain glass feeder by Perky Pet because it is easy to clean.  It’s model #209.

hummingbird feeder

They will get bacteria growing in there and must be keep clean to not harm the Hummingbirds.  I rinse them thoroughly after each use and occasionally use a drop of bleach in water to soak them.   

The other required item is an ant guard, which acts as a barrier to ants.  I fill the cup of the ant guard with oil and this keeps them away.  Without it, your feeder would be black with ant invaders. You can make your own ant guard with a small turnbuckle and a rubber table leg tip for a 1" leg.

hummingbird feeder ant trap

Feeding Orioles
Orioles also consume nectar in the same formula of 4 pt. water to 1 pt. sugar and happily come to my Oriole feeder.  This requires a very specific feeder – a Perky Pet Feeder w/ Bee Guards.  The bee guard are necessary because the opening for the Orioles to feed is large enough for bees to enter.  With the guards, hummingbirds can feed at it but bees are kept out. I have come home to hundreds of bees buzzing around my feeders until I figured this out. 

oriole feeder

This is the product:

Perky Pet Deluxe Hexagon Oriole Feeder with Bee Guards 36 oz #PP252

A shy oriole

More bird and animal pictures are here.

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