Monday, July 31, 2006

hummingbird feeder : Hummingbirds flit to sweet feeders

The Leaf-Chronicle

Watching whales in the ocean was a favorite pastime for Vi Piercey while growing up in Newfoundland, now she's happy and content to gaze at hummingbirds feeding near the patio of her Clarksville home.

In fact, Vi and her husband, Bob, who also grew up in Newfoundland, have enjoyed their hummingbird hobby for more than 20 years.

"They are fascinating little creatures," Vi says.

Hummingbirds, tiny birds weighing 2 to 20 grams, survive on flowering plant nectar and insects. These migratory birds fly by rotating their wings in a rotation that resembles a helicopter.

According to the Hummingbird Society,, these delicate birds "consume enormous amounts of food each day, with nectar often amounting to twice their body weight. Insects provide protein for their diet."

Sugar — a must for a hummingbird — provides that rush of energy necessary to sustain that distinctive hummingbird hover.

The Pierceys use a conventional hummingbird feeder to meet each winged visitor's need for sweets.

Bob and Vi, who have been married 48 years, enjoy spending time outside on their sun porch waiting for and watching their iddy-biddy feathered friends.

Bob mixes a concoction of one-part sugar and four-parts water to feed the hummingbirds and changes the contents of the feeder every seven to 10 days.

"We can sit out here throughout the day and, after a little while, see hummingbirds," Vi says.

They also occasionally see bees and wasps — a common by-product of the sugary solution in the hanging feeder.

To keep unwanted guests away, the Hummingbird Society recommends setting up a second feeder using a three-to-two-parts water to one-part sugar ratio. Once the bees and wasps have zeroed in on the second feeder, move it to a different area less dangerous to humans and the hummingbirds.

Another pest problem that confronts hummingbird enthusiasts is ants, but Bob has remedied that aggravation as well.

"You take the top cap off a spray paint can and secure it on the hanging string above the feeder, then fill the cap with oil," Bob says, "The ants crawl down the string and are deterred by the oil, which keeps the ants from clogging up the feeder holes for the birds."

The Pierceys say their tranquil hobby is relaxing and easy.

For people interested in learning more about hummingbirds, information seminars are scheduled next weekend at Woodlands Nature Station at Land Between the Lake National Recreational Area.

Ann Wallace is a features writer for The Leaf-Chronicle. She can be reached at 245-0287 or by e-mail at

Originally published July 30, 2006


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