Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Hummers Are Back

 For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive.
                                                                                                                                                              D. H. Lawrence

                                     THE HUMMERS ARE BACK

     This is the part of summer my wife and I really like. The trees in our and our neighbors’ gardens are fully leafed out, the early planted flowers are in bloom, butterflies are flittering about, and the sunflower seed and suet feeders are full of avian activity. As we are both retired, my wife and I can sit in the garden in the early morning as the world is waking up and/or in the evening as dusk falls and take it all in. We read, eat, smile, talk (or not talk), and just enjoy the beauty and specialness of our surroundings. Regularly before us at any one time can be an array of house sparrows, house finches, mourning doves, catbirds, mockingbirds, cardinals, titmice, hairy and downy woodpeckers, and chickadees. We are also occasionally gifted with the presence of wrens, flickers, beautiful goldfinches and nuthatches. But the real treat for us is just after the solstice. The monarda flowers are in bloom, the feeders of sugar water have been out for a few weeks now, and they have both worked their magic again. The hummers are back.

    When we moved into Mt. Airy from Germantown we began putting out seed feeders of various types in our garden. We started attracting perching birds of various types and enjoyed watching them at the feeders and around the trees and flowers. When goldfinches stated coming by we were overjoyed-we loved their happy sounding songs, their beautiful yellow color, and the path they take as they fly. One summer we camped at Wellesley Island State Park in upstate New York, and the nature center there had a butterfly garden that just blew us away. We were inside a large netted section of a garden that had all of these colorful flowers and water features, and it was filled with butterflies of all different sizes and colors. It was amazing, and when we returned home my wife began working on planting a garden that attracted pollinators. She planted Joe Pye weed, bee balm and more. We started getting some beautiful butterflies, especially during late July and August. We then discovered that plantings for butterflies can be attractive to hummingbirds as well, so we began trying to get them to the garden also. My wife planted more bee balm and zinnia and other plants they would find attractive. We also put out sugar water May 1st as the magazines suggested. For the first year nothing happened. The butterflies kept coming, and we got some great species such as the Eastern Swallowtail. But no hummingbirds. We were persistent though, and the next year a hummingbird pair found the sugar water feeder and started visiting at dusk. We were excited, and from there it just took off.

   I don’t quite know when hummingbirds became the obsession they now are, but we  have three sugar water feeders in various spots in the yard and we eagerly look forward each year to the arrival of the hummers in the garden. June 9th was when the first one appeared this year, but he then stayed away for over a week. We were heartbroken until a week ago when we saw a male at the monarda plant under the sugar water feeder in the rear of the yard. The female came the next day and they have both been regular visitors. “The show,” as my wife calls it, is on again.

    I am glad the hummingbirds are back. They fascinate me, and I have no idea why. Maybe it is their unreal tiny size. Or maybe it is their strange look, with that long, curved bill and that bright ruby red throat. Maybe it is the magical way they can hover in one spot for a while with those wings becoming a blur of movement. I don’t know what it is; they simply amaze me. The bird makes no sense-it almost seems as if it was thought up by a little kid or is some mad designer's imaginary toy. I just know that they always make me smile widely. It is impossible for me to watch a hummingbird and be in a bad mood-impossible. If I am in one and I see a hummingbird, the bad mood instantly vanishes. If I am in a good mood and I see a hummer, then the mood is only heightened. They are instant mood elevators. And they remind to me that there is much in the natural world that is strange and unusual to me and that there is more than I can logically explain or figure out. I think I can have some real joy if I don’t try to figure everything out and  let much of what the world has to show me just happen.  I only need to continue to marvel at the show-to delight in it and be grateful that I get to experience it. If I can do that, then the magic of the hummers can continue for some time to come.

  (Here is a ink to Birds and Blooms Magazines webpages on hummingbirds:
   How to Attract Hummingbirds | Attracting Hummingbirds - Birds & Blooms


Wondering how to attract hummingbirds to your backyard? Learn how, with these tips and tricks from our experts.

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