Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Rabble of Ruby-throats?

I love my hummingbird plants, but when I read that hummers may need up to 1,000 blooms a day, I knew I was going to need feeders! A little more investigation into hummingbird calorie requirements at Hummingbirds.net is really instructive—and a bit overwhelming for a gardener.

I recently came across the blog of Susan and Richard Day, Daybreak Blog. Susan is one of the authors of a favorite book, The Wildlife Gardener's Guide to Hummingbirds and Songbirds From the Tropics (Collins, 2003) and Richard is a photographer and leader of photo workshops. A few years ago, I had a chance to tour their property in central Illinois with the St. Louis Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA). We were really inspired by their work to create and improve wildlife habitat on their farm. I asked Susan many questions about her hummingbird and butterfly gardens and I was glad to see her recent post about "Hummingbird Wars."

I was surprised to though that she was talking not about flowers, but feeders. I have lots of hummingbird-attracting plants—also known as "humplants"—and two feeders, one in the front and one on the kitchen window. As I mentioned in a recent post, Susan Day interviewed Bob Sargent, well-known hummingbird bander and the found of the Hummer/Bird Study Group. His suggestion to those who would like to attract more hummingbirds and solve the problem of one bird guarding a feeder or driving other hummers away from your Cardinal Flower patch is simple: Add more feeders! Susan add 10 more.

I added 5. Naturally, I expected a rambunctious rabble of Ruby-throats the next morning.

Actually, I'm slightly more patient than that. I've had the extra feeders up for two days. So far I think that my feeder collection has made it more fun to watch the hummers because they're so easy to find. I've seen as many as 3 at a time—not unusual in my yard at this time of year even before adding feeders. When I see more than birds sharing a feeder at the nectar station, I'll feel that my experiment has succeeded. More hummingbird posts to come!

Rootin' Tootin' Rufous                

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Hole in One!
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  1. Good information. Thank you!

  2. After my post about the hummers not sharing, I added 2 more feeders. They still don't share, but at least get a couple of sips before they're chased away.

    Two years ago (when I had only 2 feeders) I counted 12 fighting hummers at once -- the record for my garden!

  3. @ Patricia: Thanks! Hummers are one of my favorite topics.

    @Alan: 12 hummers in one place at a time is amazing! I'll be sure to check out your post!

  4. What a great invention this Humming bird feeder, looks great!

  5. You're right, NiceArtLife. Sometime I'll have to do a post on the history of this little device. Thanks for visiting!