Posted by: Rachel | September 18, 2011

humming along…

Feeling a bit languid this week, and just not very kitchen-driven. I’m bored with “summer food” yet it is still much to hot to think about casseroles or stews. We had about a half hour of rain yesterday, the first in literally months. It won’t begin to fix the damage from the drought, but it gives one hope to see water falling from the sky, at least around here!

The hummingbirds are getting ready to head back to Mexico for the winter. If you live in an area where you see these little charmers then you know how engaging they can be.

I call them the Napoleon of birds. They are tiny (about the size of my thumb) but they have a huge attitude. They chitter rather than chirp (one friend says it sounds like the sparking of electrical wires), and they are fierce in defending what they see as their turf.

female black-chin at feeder

slurping a snack

I’m sorry the pictures aren’t better. The more I try to catch them on film (OK, digitally, but you know what I mean) the greater my respect grows for the professional photographers who “shoot” wildlife with such seeming ease.

The point of all this is that they seem to be feeding even more frenziedly that usual right now. My feeders have been hopping all summer, but I am filling them every other day at the moment, rather than every third or fourth.

The past couple of days the birds have been practically swarming the feeders! Yesterday I had two feeding at once at one feeder, which is rare, while two more had a bit of a dogfight around the feeder. Really something to see.

one at the feeder

you talkin' to me??

So, this week rather than focusing on feeding myself I’ve been far more interested in feeding the hummers. If you think you might be on their flight path or in an area where they may summer or winter, try it! I have been told that they find the color red irresistible, but please, do not put red food coloring in your feeders. Just make a light simple syrup. I do it in the microwave to it dissolves and I don’t have to turn on my stove.

I also plant for them, and for the butterflies. Many varieties of sage have red tubular flowers that have sweet nectar. Honeysuckle is also appealing to the hummers. Ask your local Extension Service, Audubon Society, or even feed store what they recommend!

two hummers fussing at each other


I’ll take my feeders down in a few weeks, until next March. I miss the hummers, I can tell you… but I know they’ll be back. If you want to feed them, here is all it takes:

“Happy Hummer” Juice

1/4 C sugar
1 C water
1 hummingbird feeder

Heat the water with the sugar. No need to actually boil, but the sugar must be completely dissolved. Cool the mixture to room temperature, fill the feeder, place where you can see it and sit back!

If you don’t get any customers right away be sure to change the “nectar” every few days anyway to keep it fresh. Watch for ants and other insects, as this sweet juice is appealing to them as well. And, if you get a big rainstorm be sure to put fresh juice out after as the rain will foul a feeder. Let your kids help, too, to stir in the sugar or fill the feeders.

I just looked up from writing this and saw three females sharing the feeder outside this room’s window. Oh I will miss them!!



  1. How lucky you are to see hummingbirds – none here sadly 😦 and I think you did a great job on the photos!

    • Thanks for the kind words about the photos. If they just weren’t so camera shy…

  2. We don’t fill these but have them in our yard. The birds still seem to like the crape myrtles and a tree out front with berries.

    • Not a lot of flowering stuff around here this time of year and with the drought it is even worse than usual.I’m putting water out for the critters (birds and other…) and keeping my bird feeders (seed *and* hummer) full… and getting lots of customers! They sure are fun to watch, don’t you think?

  3. Hi there, just popping in, i have bees and always wondered whether you have bees in your hummingbird feeders.. we have very few hummingbirds but many bees..I have never been able to get a good shot of them wither.. too fast for me! c

    • Had bees in the feeders last year but hardly any this summer. They can be enticed away with nectar on a sponge – then they leave the feeders for the hummers.

      How cool that you keep bees – we need them!

  4. They must be wonderful to watch. Thanks for posting the photos so we can see them from far away!

    • Glad you enjoyed it! They really are little charmers…

  5. […] I haven’t had any complaints from my little friends. I guess my “simple syrup” is constant enough for them – they’re going through it like Sherman through Georgia; I […]

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