This Sunday my busiest, most active daughter and I sat still for a full 10 minutes on the glider in our backyard and watched the hummingbirds zip in for their evening meal at the feeder just an arm’s length away from us. We whispered of bright colors, whirring wings and that hummingbirds use spider web strands in their nests.
My two daughters and I have spent hours watching, waiting and even caring for hummingbirds. Each spring for the past 4 years we have anxiously awaited their arrival. Despite the dizzy bright excitement they bring to our backyard, they bring quiet moments of wonder for my two daughters and myself. They will always have a place to eat and rest at my home.
Four years ago I became so ill for a time that there was little I could do but rest and stare out windows or sit on the back porch. That spring I could not throw a frisbee or run around in the backyard playing soccer with my daughters. They were restless and I was recovering from surgery. We found our activity and excitement in learning about hummingbirds and then inviting them to our backyard. They are a signal of spring and mother daughter time for us.
These acrobatic birds with beautiful feathers in reds, greens, blues, blacks, browns and purples, are some of the most fascinating birds to watch. There are over 325 species of hummingbirds in the world and while most of these live in South America, many of these colorful birds visit and live in Utah each year. We always anxiously await the Anna’s hummer to visit our feeder. This bird has a bright green back. The males have a bright fuchsia or red throat and the females have a white throat. Other common hummingbirds include the Rufous, Black Chinned hummingbirds, Calliope and Broad Tailed hummingbirds. Check out these great websites to see an example of these hummingbirds and identify who is visiting your feeder.
It is easy to create a resting and feeding spot for these busy, colorful birds. The first step to inviting hummingbirds to your backyard is to attract the birds with their favorite colors: red, purple and yellow. Whether you plan on a small spot with feeders or a full blown hummingbird garden, add some of these colors nearby. Hummingbirds have little or no sense of smell; they find their food by sight. And they are always looking for new places to eat.
Hummingbirds beat their wings at rates of 10 beats to 70 beats per second, while traveling between hundreds of flowers and feeders every day. They need to keep their energy up because their approximately 1260 heart beats per minute use up massive amounts of energy. They get their energy from nectar or sugar water and their protein from insects. So, they are constantly looking for new sources of food to add their regular feeding routes called traplines.
You can make your own healthy hummingbird syrup with just two household ingredients. Even your children can make this simple syrup once they learn the formula.
Hummingbird Syrup1 part white cane sugar 4 parts warm water.
1. Stir together until sugar is dissolved.
2. Pour into hummingbird feeder
3. Follow directions that come with feeder.
4. Hang feeder with an adult’s help
Do not add red dye to your syrup. Red food coloring may be harmful to your birds. If your feeder does not have any red, tie a red ribbon on the feeder to attract the birds’ attention. It is important to keep your hummingbird feeder clean from ants and hornets that may contaminate the syrup. Change your syrup at least once a week. Extra syrup can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Towards the end of summer you will see fluffier, less colorful, and smaller versions of the birds you have seen all spring and summer. These are the new baby birds getting ready to migrate in the fall. Perhaps next year one of these baby birds will be the first to arrive breathless, hungry and beautiful to your backyard.