Sunday, February 20, 2005

Hummingbirds

So we've been planting for hummingbirds ever since we began the garden here: about 7 years ago. This last summer saw lots of them, buzzing around: their favorites seemed to be salvia and they really buzzed the bright red bee balm (what my grandmother called firecracker flower). But I had never seen them during off-season in the garden. Until this year. On Halloween, I heard one (their chirp chirp chirp is a sound I've come to recognize, often before I see them) and it was feeding on the black and blue salvia, still in bloom. I was surprised. The mellow winter meant that come Thanksgiving, the mexican salvia with its bright purple fuzzy flowers was still blooming. And on Thanksgiving, I saw the hummingbird again.

About 5 years ago we had bought one of those old-school hummingbird feeders, put red sugar water in it, hung it, never saw a hummingbird, so we put it away back in the garage. On Thanksgiving I dug the thing up, learned the 4/1 ratio of sugar water (don't make it red, that's bad), and hung it in the garden for our late-season visiting friend. The salvias soon succombed to winter frosts, but the feeder has become incredibly popular. The viburnum has done some strange things throughout the winter, always having 1 or 2 white blooms going (I've never seen that), and the hummingbird has been visiting these blooms, and the feeder.

2 weeks or so ago, I about fell out of my chair when I looked out at the feeder and saw a hummingbird that looked like this. The bright purple head/neck of a male hummingbird was not something I had seen at the feeder, and against the grey backdrop of winter in the garden, it was a shocking and exciting thing to see. He's there this morning at the feeder, and yesterday, two female Anna's got into a rumble above the feeder: I've heard they are territorial, and their aggressive chirping surprised me. So here it is in February, and they're now going through an entire feeder-ful a week. I think word's out on the hummingbird network that this is a good place to go. Yesterday's warm winter meant the cats were out for awhile, and I heard the hummers chirping away, sounding pissed off.....the cats were in the area of the feeder, and the hummer was not happy about that!

So that's the story of hummers in our garden. I'll post more abut them and their rumbles in the future.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Today I was trimming one of our Pepper trees and watched a very violent hummingbird altercation. They spend a lot of time in our trees but for some reason these two were not good friends.
Hummingbirds are very territorial and like to protect their areas. These two made a lot of noise, clicking and fluttering, and then they were gone. Never did find out who won.............

LeLo in NoPo said...

And did you know hummingbirds have long white tongues that they use to gather the nectar? Yep! They do!