‘We have much to be thankful for in this world around us’

School has begun but we have to wait a few more days for football games. So our fun thing these past few weeks has been watching the humming birds just outside our kitchen and office window. My observation has been to notice a few humming birds around in April. I surmise they are looking for nesting sites and claiming their space. They can be quite fierce in their search; dive bombing at each other and chasing after the others quite fiercely for such tiny creatures. They seem much too small to be bullies but their actions make me think they purposely try all kinds of intimidating tactics. I have no desire to get between them at this stage.

Then there is a quiet time in May and June to the extent I am afraid something has happened to chase them away. I can fill their quart water/feeding jar and it hangs for several days. Fortunately I have an ant-preventing cup hanging just above the feeder which does a good job of eliminating the ants seeking some sweet feed. I do see several early hummers flying about but there are several blooming flowers around my house that entice them and make them hard to see.

Our humming birds are the ruby throated ones and that ruby throat is easily seen among the males while the females are more green. James Whitcomb Riley calls them the “winged jewel” as they can hover over a bright flower. They are the smallest and daintiest of the birds and are found east of the Mississippi River from Florida to Canada. They have to stretch to even be four inches long not counting their long slender bills which are suited to dip into the inner most part of the flower. Humming bird feeders are made with small holes well suited for that long bill. I have to use a tooth pick to clean the feeders.

Suddenly it is July and the hatchings are over and tiny little birds come out in droves or swarms seeking food at our feeder. It becomes a beehive of activity and exciting to watch. I have a tiny six-inch spindle-looking humming bird nesting box but they seem to prefer the large and leafy poplar tree that dominates my back yard. Their nest is a tiny cradle, made of shreds of bark, soft grass and bits of plants. You have to be very observant to find these nests as they blend in with the branch. Two tiny eggs are laid, and the young are hatched without feathers. The role of the male is fierce protector. They do eat and feed insects found in the blossoms. But I marvel at the ability to carry sweet nectar to the little ones. However I assume it does not take much to fill them up.

Then the fun begins as the young and old alike empty my quart feeder in a short while. I buy more sugar during July and August than the whole rest of the year that includes jam and jelly-making times. They are quite bold in demanding feeding attention by knocking on my windows and flying around me. It truly is a fun time and thing to watch this part of nature.

We have much to be thankful for in this world around us. If you haven’t tried feeding humming birds, it is easily done by providing the food they need—a few colorful flowers and sugar water. The key is to seduce the early ones in April and be patient; they have their own communication system. And they will come.