Saturday, July 23, 2011

Happy Hummingbirds

I have always been interested in hummingbirds and how they maneuver their tiny wings and body. This year I decided to buy a small feeder and hang it in my backyard. I looked up the correct sugar and water ratio (4:1),and read that the red food coloring wasn't necessary, so I decided not to add any.
 I placed it in an area easy to be seen from several windows and waited patiently for them to start buzzing around the feeder. I kept checking on it every few minutes, expecting at least one but hoping it would be a popular spot for the tiny birds. It was a few hours before one showed up. It seemed to drink from it then darted away to the woods. I read they have to feed often so I expected it to be back in less than thirty minutes. When an hour passed and I didn't see it, I became kinda sad. Maybe I did something wrong and the mix was nasty or something. Maybe a neighbor also has a feeder and it was just looking for a back up feeder? It eventually returned at dusk,but only for a quick sip.
 It didn't return much for another day or so and I was concerned the mix was getting bad, but then I saw it and it had a friend. They seemed to be happily taking turns drinking from the feeder. They flew off and came back with a few more friends and they all took turns sipping the sugary stuff. I was ecstatic and wondered what the change was. When a few started flying in circles and walking on the ground, staggering really, I had to check out what was going on.
 I went to the feeder, they didn't seem to want me to take it in, and I smelled the juice. Come to find out, the sugary mix had fermented and the birds were all getting a buzz from the feeder! I had to laugh. I had never heard of this happening and wondered if I should just return it and let them have their fun, but then I remembered the neighborhood cats would be around and they tiny sozzled birds would be in danger. I took the feeder in and wahed it then put a fresh batch in. They went back in hopes of finding more of the home made brew but most eventually flew back to their nests to sleep off their mini buzz.
 A few returned the next day to see if it had fermented yet, but I am keeping an eye on it and change it more frequently so the little guys can fly responsibly, after all I don't know the legal drinking age for hummingbirds, and doubt there even is one. I wouldn't want to be responsible for seeing them try play chicken with the cats or cause domestic squabbles. No, they are shut off and will have to go else where to imbibe on an unsuspecting bird watcher's moonshine :)

(ps. This story is true up until the part where the juice got fermented, that part was added for your entertainment purposes. No hummingbirds got drunk on fermented sugar water and they were not stumbling around my yard or flying in circles)

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