Sunday, July 24, 2016

First Hummingbird

I know many of you have been enjoying hummingbirds since spring, but I saw my first one this season just yesterday. That's right, July 22. He was checking out a cardinal flower that had just bloomed in the last few days. Since hummingbirds arrive in this area in April, it makes me wonder which neighbor's garden they are hanging out in until mid-July and how I can entice them to come to mine earlier. 
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

I looked back at my posts from last year to see when the hummingbirds arrived in 2015, and it was mid-July. I made the statement in that post that the hummingbirds don't seem come to our garden until the cardinal flowers bloom.  (The first cardinal flower in our garden just started showing red this week. This picture  is from last year.) I've heard others say that they see hummingbirds when the buckeyes begin to bloom in spring and continually throughout the summer.

In an attempt to encourage earlier visitors, this year I looked for annuals that I thought might entice the hummingbirds into our garden earlier. I planted red salvia (the plant my mother called "scarlet sage") and red mandevilla. I also bought two new hummingbird feeders and filled them with nectar (homemade sugar water).

So yesterday when I glimpsed the hummingbird on the cardinal flower, I rushed inside to wash and refill the hummingbird feeders. I bought feeders with a smaller nectar container this year so that I could keep the nectar fresh with as little waste as possible. 

A little background on the new feeders I bought: when I got out my old feeder this spring (shown at right), I soon discovered that it was slowly leaking nectar. After doing some research online, I discovered this particular type of feeder is known to develop leaks after the first year of use. (When you look at the design, you can see why. The glass container is filled, then flipped upside down to screw onto the base.) Also, mold tends to grow from the little plastic flowers where the birds feed, and the flowers are really hard to clean. 

So I started a search for a new feeder with two criteria in mind: (1) not leaky and (2) easier to clean. I came up with a brand that was highly recommended in various reviews (Hummzinger) and cost less than my old leaky one bought at one of the big box stores. I bought two new feeders, and although I've had them too short a time to give them a whole-hearted endorsement, I can say I am pleased so far. Their design seems much better to me. The red top snaps off for easy filling of the bottom bowl and there is far less likelihood of leaking. And it is a breeze to clean.

I hung one of the two new feeders in last year's spot on the back porch and the second one just off the kitchen window (the one pictured above). I usually have a bed of perennials here, but we had the window replaced several weeks ago and the plants had to be dug up. Since I was digging up plants, I decided to re-design the bed, so there's not much blooming there now. I really enjoy sitting at the kitchen table and watching the hummingbirds on the flowers, so I was sad to lose those blooms. I was hoping, but not convinced, that the new feeder might be enough to attract the hummingbirds. So I was delighted to return home this afternoon from running some errands to see a hummingbird out the kitchen window. I grabbed my phone to take this quick (slightly out of focus) picture from the kitchen window.

So it looks like I'll be able to enjoy the hummingbirds from my kitchen window after all. And I'll just appreciate my short hummingbird season while it lasts and spend the winter thinking about the kinds of spring flowers I might plant to bring them to my kitchen window earlier next year.

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