Anyone else have hummingbirds?

michelle_co(z5 CO)May 5, 2008

One showed up a couple days ago after that really cold night, looking very sad in the morning sitting out where the feeder hangs in summer, so I put out the feeder for it. It has come back every morning, and I see it making a run to the feeder once and a while during the day. Would this be a little momma hummer??? I don't remember them showing up quite so early in the season.

Cheers,

Michelle

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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Yep! I don't have feeders out, but have heard them buzzing by when I have been in the garden this past week. They loooove my Agastache 'Apache Sunset', so I'm sure he/she will be back.

Bonnie

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 11:23AM
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david52_gw

Saturday was the first one, and I heard some buzzing around in the park over the weekend. Time to dust off the feeder and hang it up....

One feeder usually does it until sometime in July, then the party really starts.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 11:47AM
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michelle_co(z5 CO)

:-) I started a bunch of agastache for them. They don't seem to care, though, as long as my grandma keeps 'The Juice' (sugar water) flowing...

Cheers,
Michelle

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 3:42PM
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jamie_mt(z4/5 MT)

Wow - how lucky! I've only ever seen a couple around here, apparently they're pretty scarce in my neck of the woods. I've never seen one in my garden, but I don't have any "hummer-friendly" plants either. Might have to change that...

I wish I was better at keeping bird feeders filled...I always forget to replenish them, though the birds do keep coming back for the neighbor's bird buffet. Someday maybe I'll be "together" enough to keep hummingbird feeders filled, and see if we can't attract some to stop in here.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 4:03PM
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david52_gw

We always hang the feeders from a solitary post out on the patio, and every year about this time, we'll see one or two hummingbirds show up at the plain, white post and buzz around it for half a day, looking for the feeder. It's remarkable that they can 'remember' this - I mean, just how big can their brain be?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 4:13PM
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digit(ID/WA)

I find that big, bright zinnias are great at attracting hummers. What I don't really know is if the hummers get anything from the flowers or just show up to admire them.

Did you know that there's a GW hummingbird garden forum? I was trying to find the answer to the zinnia/hummer question and found that other GW gardeners report on the success of luring hummers into the yard with zinnias.

I suppose it isn't humane to attract them without reward. Their food needs are so high. Maybe the increase in my agastaches last year will make up for any deficiencies in the wider scheme of things.

Right now I'm fretting over a bird. I remember Skybird talking about a dove she found last year in her yard. DW found a baby bird yesterday.

I really need to do something about the birdhouses in my yard. They have too much "volume" and the sparrows build the nests higher and higher each year. Finally, the babies are well above the opening and they just tumble out. I need to dump the old nests out by April every year.

With this cold Spring, I'm amazed that we have any baby sparrows. I have only a grudging admiration for English sparrows. (Some call them "house" sparrows but I like to PO the English. ;o) Someone once said that they are neither English nor sparrows. I sometimes refer to them as feathered mice but that may be unkind.

DW was handwatering in the yard after sundown and passed the spray right over the little guy. He could only twitch when I brought him in and sat him on a hot water bottle wrapped in a paper napkin. He warmed up fairly quickly but, by then, it was completely dark outside. Getting up to the bird house is awkward. The step ladder isn't tall enuf and the extension ladder can't be placed where reaching the bird house door is easy.

I took a close look at the little guy and realized how young he is. Not 1 feather! Eyes aren't open! Just a little naked bird about the size of a thimble! I figured he was 1 day, or at most, 2 days old.

What to do with the little guy!?! Well, he had to stay in the house because I couldn't get up to the nest. I reheated the water bottle and started checking the backdoor light for bugs for dinner. No luck!

Okay, I know chicks are often given yogurt and hardboiled eggs. While the eggs were boiling, Little Guy had some yogurt on some kind of plastic thing DW found. He was hungry!!

Finely minced, the egg could be glued to the "server" with the yogurt until LG could find it and chew it off. He only wanted a couple bites at a time. I soon put him on a heating pad since I could keep the temp more consistent. He'd stay within the folds of a napkin until he was hungry or had to poop. That was every 10 or 15 minutes - one or the other. I had no idea a day-old sparrow could poop so much!

By 11, I was getting sleepy, LG seemed fairly quiet so I turned off the desk light I had down on the floor over the heating pad and went to bed. I figured that LG had less than a 50% chance of making it thru the night.

Before 5, I was up and so was LG - his version of "up" was a sprawling crawl and constant chirping. I got a fresh carton of yogurt and another egg. DW complained about the noise but I just left the hearing aides out when she went off to do some shopping. LG continued to require attention every 10 or 15 minutes.

By noon, DW was back and we had to leave together for the gardens. I'd been watching the birdhouse and noted how infrequent the sparrows were visiting that morning. I was afraid that there was only one baby - the naked LG in the nappies on the heating pad. If I didn't get him back soon, maybe the parents would abandon the nest.

I propped the ladder up below the birdhouse and leaning backwards, screwed a piece of plastic across the lower part of the door. That should keep LG from falling out but the adults would still have enuf room to squeeze in.

I carefully carried LG outdoors and, hanging backwards again, managed to place him inside the birdhouse. His job then should have been to climb upwards about 4 or 5 inches to the top of the grass etc. nest. He never made it but he didn't fall out.

When I got back from the garden over 4 hours later, I could still see him now and then just inside the door. The parents were very much at large and the momma even did that little strut the males do when they are showing off. I'd never seen a female do that.

I assume she was directing this dance towards me since no other bird was anywhere in sight at that moment. Maybe saying, "You come near my baby again and there's goin' be hell to pay!" I don't know.

I'm worried about LG. I put some yogurt and minced egg out on a fence post - he probably ate a half teaspoon of one and a quarter teaspoon of the other during the 18 hours he was in the house. Maybe the parents would want to take some of that to him but I didn' see that happen. Today must have been the warmest so far this year - that's important.

Obviously, he can't climb up the nest and all I could do would be to pull the bottom off the birdhouse and try to lower the mound of grass etc. from the underside - without dropping a thimble-sized LG onto the ground again or crushing him with the grass, etc.

I'm concerned about disturbing the parents again. They are LG's best hope and somebody's goin' to need to keep him warm tonight.

I was just looking at the "actuary" tables from the Census people. I wonder what the life expectancies for English sparrows are. Makes me sad that the odds must be against him right now.

digitS'

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 12:27AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Im sorry to hear your sad story this year, Digit. I hope the outcome is good, but I agree, the odds are probably less than 50/50. But thenÂwhen I took the time to think about it, AFTER it was over with, I figure my odds of surviving my nite in the mountains last September were probably less than 50/50 tooÂand here I amÂso you never know. One thing IÂm sure ofÂIÂm really glad I took the time last year to do what I could for that dove. I think I knew right from the beginning that it wouldnÂt survive, but IÂm really, really glad I tried to make its final couple hours as comfortable as I could. Whatever happens, I think youÂre gonna feel glad you did as much as you could too.

My bird prospects this yearÂso farÂare much brighter! My momma robin has laid 3 eggs and has been sitting on them for about a week now. She wasnÂt happy at all when I cut the grass in the backyard today, but it was looking really ratty, so it had to be done. I TRIED to tell her that it was ok and her eggs would be fine, and it was really warm outÂwouldnÂt have done it otherwiseÂand I hurried as much as I could, but she was back and forth in the trees watching me the whole time. As soon as I finished and turned off the mower I left the yard for a while to give her time to settle back down.

HereÂs my proud mama-to-be! (Click to enlarge)

The first year they nested there is was just on top of the box, and almost too narrow for the nest. That year, after the first 2 (of 4) chicks hatched, the mother disappearedÂmost likely killed by a cat or something. By the time I realized she was gone, the two chicks were already dead, tho I doubt that I would have been able to keep them alive anyway.

Last year I added the board to make the nest platform wider, and then added the "roof" to keep her dry. They started building their nest, and then abruptly took all the nest material and rebuilt it up in a tree. I watched them fighting off the blackbirds and squirrels for the whole nesting period, and was wishing I could help them.

This year I wondered if maybe it would help if they had a perch to land on to make it easier to "approach" the nest, so I stuck a short piece of flat board into the front of the nest platform and wedged it in with a piece of shim for them to land on. You can see some of the string hanging from it that I put up there for them to use as nest materialÂwhich they DIDNÂT use! I donÂt think theyÂre using it much now, but I think it might be kind of handy when theyÂre feeding the babies. WeÂll see!

I donÂt have any hummers around here yet, but I have several Sweet Williams this year, and I hope that may help attract some. My Agastache hasnÂt done it so far. And, yes, as David points out, the same ones do come back to the same place year after year. IsnÂt it amazing how they can do that! Nature is miraculous! The red/pink/orange of the zinnias might help attract them to the area, but I doubt that theyÂre able to get any nectar from zinnia flowers. They need "trumpet shaped" flowers that they can "dip" their beaks into. Agastache, of course, is perfect, along with things like foxglove, lobelia, heuchera, lavender, and penstemon. And columbine and dianthus are really good too. When I lived down in Parker, I had a whole patch of the short Sweet Williams, and I had up to a dozen hummers that would show up late in the day all the time. What fun it would be to have a few around here.

Keep thinking good thoughts for your little baby, and know that you did everything you possibly could if it doesnÂt make it.

Skybird

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 1:29AM
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michelle_co(z5 CO)

Wow Digits. What a tale. Best wishes for your little bird.

Some bird has built a nest in our neighbor's newspaper box. Another one nests in the open holes of pipe on the clothes line. :-) We also have the robin families that come and rake through the mulch every day all summer long. At first there's one or two of them, and by mid summer the whole family comes in to enjoy the bounty.

Yesterday I dug up some roses that needed moved and the chicks got to eat the worms. I carefully dug through the roots and pulled the worms out. The Faverolles are obviously not foragers, and don't get the whole 'bug eating' thing. The Delawares and Americana are interested... But the Polish chicks - OMG. The little Polish bantams know exactly what worms are, peep excitedly as I pull them out of the dirt ball, and hoover the worms down in one gulp. I feel much like a mama bird, showing the babies what to eat. I have been leading the chicks out to the sideyard every day to hunt grasshoppers and other little bugs. They really are a lot of fun.

Cheers,
Michelle

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 11:03AM
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digit(ID/WA)

Thanks for the best wishes and thoughts. The parents are still busy at the birdhouse but I can't see LG. Maybe he made it to the top of the nest after all! The weather is beautiful again - robin egg blue sky.

I'll be taking the Australorp chicks to the garden when they show up. They love to be underfoot - much different from the Brahmas who were all L'le Miss Independents. Even with all the moving-around caution I need to exert, I'd rather have the, "Where's Dad, where's Dad?!" than the "I am going over there and you other guys can do whatever. That big creature - - Who died and made him king, anyway?? Loser!"

digitS'

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 1:04PM
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gardenbutt(rocky mt 4-5)

Wow we saw our first hummer april 26 this year.Have had the feeder out every since.We always get the male rufous first before the ladies arrive.
Since we have so many plants that are hummer oriented if we are not around to refill feeders they do hang around.At my old place we used to have alot of nests, sometimes when babies came out we would have 100plus birds going through several gallons of food a day
M

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 12:57PM
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david52_gw

A note here on the value of a super soaker squirt gun in your humane bird management practices. We have two bird 'management issues' - hummingbirds and LB's that fly into the greenhouse doors, get confused, and won't leave through the door or the windows.

#2 is the group of swallows, who, I suspect, use message boards on the innernet to tell fambly and friends that the big, blown glass chandelier / hanging light thingie on the 52' front porch has a concave top that makes a dandy swallow nest starting place. Open the door at night, and the swallows wing it into the lighted interior of the house and doing what any self-respecting panicking swallow would do.

Anywho, if you soak down a bird with a super soaker, they are easy to pick up, and you can put them out on some twig in a tree where they dry off, look indignant, and fly away.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 9:38PM
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michelle_co(z5 CO)

DAVID!!!! You big bad bird bully, you. A supersoaker, indeed!

:-))))))))))
- Michelle

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 11:40PM
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digit(ID/WA)

You can also sneak up on 'em and put salt on their tails . . . .

digitS'

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 12:34AM
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nicole__(z5Colorado)

Michelle,
The males show up first. My first hummer showed up around April 10. It helps if you hang the feeder up before you see the first bird, they are easy to miss and may keep flying by you to reach another neighbors feeder if yours is not up. :0) Maybe your little female hummer wasn't the "first"?
LOVE these little guys! Hurray!!!!! The hummers are back!!!! :0)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 11:48AM
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digit(ID/WA)

DW reports hearing LG in the birdhouse.

(I'll pretend the noise includes LG rather than just an LG #2.) There was no tiny bird on the ground below the nest and I got the ladder positioned and by tipping the house was able see thru the door. No LG lying dead across the threshold.

Now, we can just hope that there is sufficient insect life after the 4th coldest April on record for this Passer domesticus population center.

d'S'
who has learned that his tolerance for English sparrows is at odds with his appreciation of blue birds. Two pairs were seen for the first time in years by yours truly at the edge of an evergreen forest this Spring - a far more likely location for bluebirds than my backyard, miles from meadowland bordered by forest. Here's what I won't do - feed the sparrows (unless they are guests at the kitchen table).

roufus, calliope, and black-chinned hummers here but not yet . . .

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 1:50PM
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digit(ID/WA)

I spoke too soon. A black-chinned hummer was repeatedly at Dad's feeder this afternoon. That is, until we charged it with nectar - then he was nowhere to be seen.

Cold, windy day . . . storming now . . .

d'S'

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 9:08PM
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gardenbutt(rocky mt 4-5)

hmmm how does that soaker gun work for those big black vultures???
We have a roadkill deer at the end of the property and these cool vultures and lots of ravens enjoying the feast.Just wish they would not fly over a poop on the truck window.
I have always enjoyed the hummers but also know they have some aggressive sides to them. And yet another problem sticky poop everywhere.The large quanitites we used to have were fun to watch but the mess on the side of the house and across the flower beds below, yuck

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 9:33PM
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dafygardennut(5b-ish, CO)

No hummers, but I have a couple of chickadees building a nest in our new birdhouse

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 1:05AM
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digit(ID/WA)

Good Dafy!

I'd like to point out something about the location of your birdhouse - it is right under the eave.

Over my shoulder, I can see the 8 (count 'em, eight) birdhouses the neighbor put on her garage West wall this Spring. I'm not saying that the birds will never move in but they've been there for 2 months and not a single tenent.

Maybe they don't like the heat but that shouldn't be much of a problem this year. They may not like the bird feeder loaded with millet 20 feet away and all the chaos that brings to the neighborhood. What I'm fairly sure that they don't like is the fact that some of the houses are only about 4 feet from the ground - none are directly under the eaves.

I once had 5 bird families nesting under the eaves on the West wall of my garage. (But after the LG incident, I'm either going completely out of the bird property management business or start doing it right with new houses.)

If there's anything you are NOT with that cute chickadee house, Dafy, is a slumlord. I don't know about chickadee homes but I hope there's a way to carry the "abandoned furnishing" to the curb for the garbage man at the end of the season. Trust me, all these birds will pack up the kids and move without a forwarding address without a 2nd thought towards either cleaning house or their damage deposit.

d'S'

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 9:58AM
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michelle_co(z5 CO)

Cute birdhouse!

The sparrows have found the spot where there's leftover bits of chicken scratch on the ground & there was a flock of them this morning! Boy did they holler at me when I walked out to visit the chickies.

Cheers,
Michelle

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 10:45AM
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terryincs(z5 IL)

Hummingbirds in Colorado Springs yet?

I had a tenacious robin couple trying to build their nest on my breaker box just outside my back door. As soon as I spotted it, I took it down:( My German Pointer would freak them out every time I let him out. Then the next day they decided to come closer to the door and build the nest on the motion lights! Silly birds, They haven't been back since so I hope they found a better location :)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 1:15PM
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