Monday, November 16, 2015

Hummer Bummer and Flower Power

When we were still living in Grass Valley we stopped feeding the birds. We had been feeding them for a decade, but the bears and raccoons finally made it impossible to keep at it. They smashed and crashed every feeder we hung. So, with some sadness we watched the birds come looking for food and fly away, come back and look again, and then fly away. It took a while but they stopped coming. The year we were in the rental here in Arcata, we didn't feed any birds and had no plans to start up again. Then we bought the house.

Well, the house came with a hummingbird feeder. A very nice one. I knew I should have just taken it down and not start up again with such madness. But the hummers came by with their flashy iridescent greens and reds and literally chatted me up with their insistent tweets, "Fill this feeder. Fill this feeder." Okay, okay I gave in.

For two months all went well. When we were out of town for two weeks at my mom's a friend came and refilled the feeder for us. She loved it so much, she went out and bought a feeder for her yard. Life was sweet with the buzz of wings and the flash and dash of color. I loved knowing that our friend was feeding birds in her yard too. Kindness has its rewards.

Then, the weather changed. The rains came. The temperatures dropped to the 40s, and the winds blew. I noticed that one hummingbird decided the feeder was his and only his. I never liked those arrogant birds who won't let another bird eat. They just sit there right where the feeder hangs and nastily chase off any other bird that approaches. What little jerks they are. I went out there to talk some sense into this one, reason with it about the wisdom of sharing. It literally flew up in the air and tried to chase me back into the house. I had a good laugh. But this behavior makes me want to take the feeder in the house and tell that little bird to "buzz off."

A lot of the online discussions about selfish hummingbird behavior suggest getting another feeder and hanging it far enough away so the tyrant can't reign over both. That is not what I am going to do. We did that in Grass Valley and a second tyrant took over the new feeder kingdom. I have no solution other than glaring out the window and shaking my fist at a bird that has absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, and quite frankly couldn't care less. Jerk. Oh wait! I just realized that I do have a solution, and it's a very nice one. We're going to plant a garden full of flowers that hummingbirds will love, and not one tyrant will be able to lay claim to. Imagine a yard full of perennials, like bee balms, columbines, daylilies, and lupines; biennials like foxgloves and hollyhocks; and annuals like cleomes, impatiens, and petunias. It will be a hummingbird paradise! Thank you, little crazy one, for reminding me of the sane way to go. Ah flower power!

13 comments:

  1. An elegant and oh-so-Robinlike solution.

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  2. I love the way your mind worked to find a solution. Crocosmia is my favorite hummingbird attractor. One of my favorite memories is that of seeing large numbers of hummingbirds flocking to the Crocosmia on the grounds at Fort Ross many years ago. I stopped using my hummingbird feeder because it attracted wasps to the point that I didn't feel safe on my porch. I love having flowers on my porch that attract hummingbirds. Even planted some that are said to attract butterflies, although I haven't seen any butterflies yet.

    Still enjoying waking up to see the planets in line on the mornings when the sky is at least partially clear. This is one such morning. The crescent moon was beautiful last evening.

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  3. It's absolutely the best way to feed wildlife! Plant plants that the wildlife you want to support can use. It's real, it doesn't rely on you being their to restock, it keeps them feeding in a natural way, rather than at a "trough."
    Just be sure to spread out the garden. They will hog gardens as readily as they will a feeder.
    What species is your gorgeous tiny tyrant?

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  4. We have feeders at the front of the house and on the deck. We also have pots of flowers so that several hummingbirds can feed at once even if there is a warrior at the feeder.

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  5. Pablo-- I can't wait to start planting!

    am-- I just google Crocosmia to see what they look like. I have been wondering what those beautiful flowers were. Thank you for the suggestion. First thing every morning, I open the blinds and look for Venus. This morning was bright and clear, and I could see the planet twinkling in a ever-brightening sky.

    CCorax-- Yes! I am so excited about this. I want to start planting right away. There must be flowers that these Anna Hummingbirds are attracted to that grow here year round. I just have to familiarize myself with all the garden delights.

    NCmountainwoman-- I think I'm going to start with some potted flowers and then move on to beds of delectable delights. This is going to be a lot of fun!

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  6. We do feeders when the season begins and keep them up through the migratory times. When they arrive the flowers aren't always there. I haven't had the problem of only one bird dominating but have seen how they will fight over it. I also have a lot of flowers they like. There are some visiting the desert salvia in the Tucson house and my only concern here is to keep the cats from trying to attack while the birds are feeding. I won't put up a feeder here as we aren't here long enough to be helpful. Once you start, they do depend on it. Butterfly bush, flowering quince, and fuchsias are the favorites. They like pink and reds best for whatever reason.

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  7. Rain-- Since our Anna Hummingbirds are year-round, I'm going to look for flowers that bloom in all the seasons, so they will be well-fed, even if I'm not filling a feeder. I will come back to this post and your list when we head out flower shopping.

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  8. you are the one who got me hooked on the feeders! one in front and one in back yard. i love to sit on the deck and watch them come and go. You're yard is going to look so lovely with all those plants!!

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  9. Tara-- I know, I know! Sorry about that. It really is nice to see them come by for food, but I'm going to stick with flowers once we get them planted.

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  10. We have a couple of bird feeders with food in and they don't seem to come. they don't like the food. As got the bird you have I think I would have gotten my catapult out and fired a few stones at him to discourage the guarding

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  11. Bill-- That bird is a very single-minded little creature. He hardly eats what I put out, but he won't let anyone else eat it either. There's really no chasing this guy away. I can't wait to plant flowers.

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  12. An excellent solution to the problem. We seem to have so many hummers at our feeder that no single bird can lay claim and enforce it.

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  13. Mark-- I can't wait to start planting flowers. It's a beautiful, peaceful way to go. We did have a lot of hummers, but now we only have this one bully. Little jerk.

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