Prior to the 4th of July holiday, feeding hummingbirds is a gentle pastime; our sweet little broad-taileds, black-chinned, and calliope (the smallest of our North American hummingbirds) don't suck up too much nectar. A couple feeders on the back deck, maybe one on the front porch, need to be filled up about once a week. No problem. They follow the rules of kindergarten: share and share alike and treat others as you would want to be treated.
|A sentry keeping watch over his feeder|
But it's not only which feeders are protected on a daily basis (and that changes every day, depending on the birds present and which feeders look unusually enticing for which overseer bird), it's the sheer numbers of hummingbirds that park themselves in our yard over the course of about two and a half months that literally rule our lives.
We get dozens. And dozens. Sometimes it feels like hundreds. We've had years where we can see dozens of hummingbirds using each feeder. And we put out something like 7 feeders. Each little hole on the feeder, or port, has a bird sipping from it, plus there are birds buzzing around each feeder waiting their turn. Sometimes there are two birds for each port. It's nuts.
I come home from work, greeted happily by my dog, but I can't even take the time to pet her, because many of the hummingbird feeders are empty, and the Angry Birds are making alot of noise. I toss my purse and work stuff on the counter and rush outside to figure out which feeders on that day are "guarded" by one little rufous hummer and still have nectar in them, and move those to where the empty feeders are, switching them out. I then put a little bit of nectar in the empty feeders, just enough to get them through the evening rush. After darkness, ah the blessed darkness, falls and the birds quiet down, I schlep the feeders back into the house and the cycle begins anew the next morning at 5:00. I call it "doing the hummingbird shuffle," as I feel like it's like a little dance, but it 's really more than that. It's like being forced at gunpoint to dance; you're sort of panic-stricken because you have dozens of feisty hummingbirds buzzing around complaining about the empty feeders, some need to be moved to certain spots, others need to be filled; and each day, the dance is slightly different.
|Bees!!! What a pain!!!!|
By mid-September, they start getting a move on, and slowly the numbers decrease. Feeding is less of a frenzy, and gets back to a reasonable pace. It's almost a relief, but not quite. I miss them, and I know that winter is on its way, and I simply can not wait for next year's insanity.
I was able to finally get some videos uploaded. Here you go: