Wednesday, June 25, 2008

To the Birds ... Hummingbirds, that is

Now that our backyard overhaul is finished, I thought it would be fun to put a hummingbird feeder in a Japanese Maple tree, nestled in a corner right outside the kitchen window. I love Japanese Maples--we have a couple of green ones in the front yard, too, and one dwarf that is the most spectacular plum color.

Lowe's has dozens of hummingbird feeders so it took about thirty minutes to weigh the pros and cons of each one (no rash decisions for me). I finally decided on one that, come to find out, is the most poorly engineered feeder that's made, but that's okay because this was my virgin experience with hummingbird feeders. (I now have my eye on one at "The Gardener" on Fourth Street in Berkeley--hand blown glass, red, ruffled glass around the mouth--perfect).

Once the water and sugar (four parts water one part sugar) were boiled, cooled, and poured into the poorly designed feeder, I hung it in the Japanese maple. Hummingbird swooping action and long drinking began less than ten minutes after it was hung. I stood at the kitchen window in awe.

Three hummingbird facts:

wing beat approximately 53 times per second (no, I didn't count :-)
heartbeats over 1000 times a minute
resting hummers breathe 250 times per minute

I've also discovered that when they fly over my head or past my ears they sounds like they're dive bombing, which is a little unnerving (I'm not going to think about a bird weighing ounces having the ability to scaring me!. And, they're territorial, too. So the one who sits on top of the feeder keeping guard we've named, "GP," short for "General Patton."

While I love the placement of the feeder, right there at the window where I can see these little guys up close and personal all the time,I do have to stop whatever I'm doing--washing, rinsing, cleaning, peeling--because once they see movement, they fly away. I I don't want to disturb them. And they drink for a l-o-n-g time.

I found myself getting a little impatient. Here I am trying to get dinner on the table and it's like I'm playing a game of "FREEZE," all of a sudden turning into pillar of stone. Can you imagine being irritated looking at nature's beauty? It got me thinking...I need to slow down!

So, I'm taking the Eckhart Tolle approach to all of this and use it as a moment of divine stillness. I watch, fully present, open hearted, loving -- who couldn't be gazing at such a miracle?

If you want to see them in action drop by OR click on the title of this entry to watch a quick little hummingbird clip!


Zoe Ann Hinds said...

Sorry that you are not happy with the hummingbird feeder that you selected. Whenever you purchase another one, here are some general tips to keep in mind. I hope this information will help you and others make a more informed choice whenever you are selecting a feeder.

Any hummingbird feeder should be easy to take apart and clean, because it should be washed frequently.

The hummingbird feeder can even be cleaned by running it through the dishwasher.

Since you will need to clean the feeder frequently, the fill hole should be large enough for you to reach in while cleaning.

The feeder should not be located in direct sunlight, as this causes the sugar solution to spoil rapidly.

The feeder must placed high enough on a branch so that squirrels and other predators cannot feed from it.

The feeder should be colorful, preferably red and orange, and it can have red ribbons trailing off the feeder so it can be easily spotted by the humming bird.

Cindy said...

Zoe Ann, Thank you so much for the wonderful information...I really appreciate it!

feistysideoffifty said...

How fun to see nature's winged delights so up close and personal. But I can imagine that playing "freeze" on a regular basis might prove a bit annoying. While you're delayed in getting your own meal, they're enjoying theirs. Seems like you and GP will have to work something out!

Kelly said...

The image of you freezing impatiently because of hummingbird interruptions brought a smile to my face. I'm sure I'd do much the same!

I bet your grandkids will love the feeder too

she said...

love this post.. the sentiment behind it; lessons inside it

and the video link in the title; very cool!

and mind if i share my WILD hummingbird story?

one day i was in the backyard.. enjoying the trees, birds, plants..journaling and whatnot, and out of my mouth came the words, "i wonder what it's like when a hummingbird dies"


strangest thing. i didn't know why i thought or said such a thing.

next day? or very close anyway..
walking to school w/kids, and there came a hummingbird... flying so slow and low around all of us.
very unusual. hovered over john's cupped hands, then flew slow, to a brick chimney where it died.

and i had my camera/as i almost always do, so have a picture.

wildest thing. one of my most concrete premonitions.

anyway, they are the most fascinating and beautiful creatures to watch, and now you'll get to FREEZE

& enjoy them often.

-just dawned on me.. i'm at john's write now..

gonna go in the backyard again,

"wonder what it's like to hit it big?!"

blessings, ~s.