Tonya Bina: One humdinger of a present
June 17, 2011
He gets giddy each spring at the first sight of a hummingbird hovering at our lone feeder.
“Look! Look!” he shouts, summoning me to the window to spectate the little winged being.
As he watches the season’s first bird get his fix from the red plastic feeder, my husband can’t help but take great pride in the nectar he’s concocted.
But truth be told, attracting hummingbirds has gone beyond his simple desire to regard mother nature.
Each spring, my husband races to put his feeder out before our neighbor’s to make darn sure the hummingbirds know our little oasis is open for business.
Then he sneers when that same neighbor puts up four feeders to his one.
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“We need more feeders,” he said, standing dejectedly on the deck, staring at the neighbor’s house.
So for my husband’s May birthday this year, I responded with the humdinger of bird feeders: The Wearable Hummingbird Feeder. It’s a red mask with loud illustrations that makes one appear more like a welder through the lens of psychedelics than a walking bird feeder.
The key is to sit really still and wait for birds to fly in and suck nectar from a tube at the mask’s nose. There’s a video on YouTube that shows this phenomena.
“You’ve outdone yourself,” my husband said. I beamed at having given him the weirdest gift he’s ever received.
As he sits statue-like on the deck, wearing this ridiculous mask, I can only imagine how this must look to our neighbor – the one oblivious to how far my husband will go to steal his hummingbirds away.
My man’s favorite is the rufous hummingbird, which he considers the king of hummingbirds in these parts for its dazzling orange gorget and its fierceness around feeders. The rufous is known to migrate as far as 3,000 miles from Alaska to central Mexico. The ones in Grand County show up around August for a mulit-day stopover during their return flight from British Columbia.
Most of the area’s hummingbirds are broadtails, which also migrate to and from Mexico and Central America. These species of birds showed up in Grand County about a month ago, and I imagine it was incredibly rough-going for them during those first few wintry weeks.
It’s no wonder, so desperate to rebuild reserves, they’re willing to suck nectar off my husband’s face.
I understand his child-like fascination with these birds. They best Mother Nature in a few categories, such as number of heartbeats per minute (sometimes more than 1,000 beats per minute), and have probably the fastest metabolism of any warm-blooded vertebrate in the world. Also, these resilient little winged beings, some the weight of a single penny, can fly up to 30 miles per hour.
Hummingbirds find food mostly by sight, and so red flowers and feeders are more alluring to the average hummingbird because red stands out against a background and is a heat-absorbing color that in nature, warms nectar. Also, according to information about hummingbirds compiled by Rose Houk for the Western National Parks Association, bees don’t see red, largely eliminating them as competitors for the nectar.
Although they like to lap up the real juice found in trumpet flowers such as a good Colorado columbine, a hummingbird’s next best variety is the man-made recipe of about four parts water to one part sugar (no artificial coloring needed and never give honey to a hummingbird).
And, on our block – especially when there is a bizarre masked man in the area – there’s more than plenty of nectar to go around.
The accompanying hum: music to our ears.
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext.19603.
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