One of my most favorite things about my back porch is the Mimosa tree that sits right off its corner. It’s so lovely all year around. In the Spring, it produces bright pink flower tufts, much like the Truffulas found in Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. In the Summer it hangs heavy with pods similar to that of snow peas. In the Fall the frilly, afraid of the dark leaves start to fall off and in the Winter it’s completely bare. Its white washed bark and sturdy branches make it awe inspiring no matter the season. It’s a great climbing tree for Raygan, much like one I used to climb when I was her age. She isn’t the only one who enjoys its refuge though. There are a plethora of critters who spend their days sipping from the sweet flowers when in bloom, an abundance of lizards and spiders in search of a tasty passerby and every now and again birds of all kinds grace it with their song and presence.
I try not to play favorites.. but the illustrious hummingbird has its own special place in my heart. They’re just so tiny and cute and so entertaining to watch! Also, the fact that they are only around for a few short months per year and are sadly becoming more and more threatened by human’s overuse of pesticides and chemicals.. I feel like they deserve my extra admiration.
Earlier in the Spring of this year, I noticed a few hummingbirds frolicking around the Mimosa tree. They were first in line to the nectar buffet and decided that this tree’s branches were a good sturdy foundation to make their nest in. How I wish I could’ve located and captured a few pictures of what I imagine to be the daintiest little intricacies woven to perfection with the tiniest eggs nestled inside.
After noticing how much they enjoyed this tree, I purchased the cutest hummingbird feeder I could find at our local hardware store and hung it on a branch that A.) was sturdy B.) was were I could see them from my favorite chair, and C.) was low enough so my 5’1 self could reach it without a step stool. The feeder that I purchased had an antique look about it, with a red mason jar type reservoir to hold all of the back up nectar until it was gravity fed through the feeder holes on its base. It was a really cute feeder and kinda pricey too.. but wouldn’t you know, it started to leak. The base had a seam around it that eventually lost its seal within just a few weeks. Bummer! So I started researching reviews and looking for a feeder thats design made a little more sense. One that wouldn’t have an entire jar of liquid atop of a base made up of two separate pieces. I found one that has a solid base without seams, no frills, no thrills.. just a basic vessel that gets the job done. I’m happy to report, no more leaks!
Hummingbirds are attracted to flowers that are shaped like trumpets or funnels. They are the perfect cup for their long needle like beaks and tongues. A few of their favorites are honeysuckle, bee balm, day lillies and columbine. Here at our house I’ve noticed them being especially fond of the mimosa tree, lavender, sage, lantana and wildflowers. They are attracted to bright cheery colors, namely red.. hence the reason most feeders and store bought nectars are red.
It was once believed that providing red liquid would attract hummingbirds to your feeder in greater numbers. Though this could be true, it’s really not the safest means of feeding our little feathery friends. Studies keep revealing that the pre-made nectars sold in most stores contain a laundry list of chemicals and dyes that are harmful to the birds. There are massive amounts of hummingbirds regularly dying as a result of the foreign substances in their systems. If you think about it, the nectar that they receive from nature is not red. The flower is the main source of attraction. So if you choose to try to lure in and feed these tiny creatures, let your feeder (or flowers) provide the coloring, and keep their sweet snack as clean and clear as possible!
Here’s the easy nectar recipe that I use:
I simply add 1 part good quality sugar (it’s the closest thing to what they find naturally) to 4 parts hot water and stir it up! Easy Peasy! I typically make 4 cups at a time, so 1 cup of sugar in 4 cups of water. Of course, I make sure the solution is cooled down before serving it to my little buddies. Whatever can’t fit into my feeder, I keep in a pitcher in the fridge until it’s time for refills.
I keep the leftovers in the refrigerator for preservation purposes.. something that this sweet treat is not as fortunate to have in the great outdoors. Which is why you must check in on your feeder every couple of days. If you live in an area that experiences high heat and humidity like me (hello, North Carolina summer time), you’ll likely need to dump old nectar and wash your feeder out every 3-4 days (at most).. something to consider when choosing a feeder and hanging location. I realized there was an issue with ours when I noticed several birds coming around to check out my feeder, but not stopping to take a sip. After further investigation, I noticed the strong smell of fermentation reeking from the leftover nectar. I was making hummingbird moonshine and didn’t even know it! Though, it was inevitable with the heat that we’ve had this year.
After making the discovery of which feeder works best and is the most practical, providing attractive flowers and colors, supplying a clean and safe homemade nectar (and being sure it stays that way)… we have a couple of happy resident hummingbird families and a few gypsies who grab a drink on the go. Over all, our tiny friends seem happy and healthy and keep coming back to visit every day. My minimal efforts are quickly forgotten when I get to sit and witness the utter hilarity and enchantment that these petite beings provide. Take the time to sit and enjoy the boundless beauty that nature has to offer. Hummingbirds are a great place to start!