Hey there Everyone,
Hope you are staying hydrated and cool during these summer months. Speaking of hydration, let’s talk about our local hummingbird and hummie feeders. Now, let’s just take one of our more common species of humms, this would be Anna’s Hummingbird, named after Anna Massena, Duchess of Rivoli and Princess d’Essling. This little bird is our most common of the hums in Mendo. The males have a head and neck of rose red splendor. Anna’s can be found in a variety of places, backyard gardens, chaparral, oak woodlands, and orchards. Following the mid-winter to early-spring nesting period, most Ann’s undergo a post-breeding movement northward or to higher elevations to take advantage of the abundant blossoms of late spring. In late summer most Anna’s retreat to warmer lowlands where they will spend the remainder of the year. Anna’s is the only hummingbird common in northern California during winter. You may ask, how do these little guys stay warm? How do they handle the winter? Well, there is some magic to be shared, they do a process called torpor. Torpor is a type of deep sleep where an animal lowers its metabolic rate by as much as 95%. By doing so, a torpid hummingbird consumes up to 50 times less energy when torpid than when awake. This lowered metabolic rate also causes a cooled body temperature. So, as you can see, it’s like a birdie hibernation. So, what do these guys eat when they’re up and running a million miles an hour? They eat nectar from blossoms and insects. They also love hummingbird feeders. Now, I’m a wildlife lady, I believe in not messing with them at all, but I get it, you love to put the feeders out, and you don’t have any blossoms, and you want to make sure they’re hydrated. I get it, I don’t do it myself, but I get why you do. I have researched this and there aren’t a lot of negative comments about how the feeders interfere with the hummies. The biggest thing found is that they are less likely to pollinate if they become too dependent on the feeders. Let’s talk then about how to make sure you are doing the feeders correctly. First, you must only use white sugar. The reason is because it is the closest thing to the glucose they receive from the blossoms. You will need 4 cups of water to 1 cup sugar, boil this and then let cool. The MOST important thing here, besides making sure you get the food right, is making sure that you CLEAN your feeders really well. You should have feeders that disassemble so you can access all the joints and make sure there is no mold growing the creases. You will be surprised how many times I have seen black mold on hummie feeders. This will make them sick or possibly worse. So, clean your feeders well and make sure you cool your mixture after you boil the 4 cups of water to 1 cup white sugar (organic please). Also, of course there are a myriad of plants they can enjoy as well. Here are a few that I know of: Nicotiana, Trumpet Vine, Echinacea, Fox Gloves, Holly Hocks, Fushcia, actually, the list goes on and on. Just google what they like and what you like and if you feel inspired and have the water, plant something. Remember too, the secret to planting in the summer is mulch mulch mulch. So mulch it up baby! Enjoy your wildlife and remember, habitat is everything! Stay cool!