Gotcha! Though some may pick up the double entendre story title, it refers to feeding hummingbirds and becoming their neighborhood bar of sorts.

Most everyone is fascinated by these tiny birds whose wings sound like mini motorboats, fly like feathered hot rods, and can stop on a dime and give you nine cents change. Once you install a juice feeder, a curious relationship between you and nature starts. I use bottled water and no artificial dye color in the sugar water mixture. A red scarf was the target attraction used. Once they knew where to feed, the red target came down.

Many types of small birds are aware of you if you feed them and hummingbirds are no exceptions. Unlike pigeons in the park, some species of hummingbirds are reported to be territorial as far as feeding location goes. From my feeder these are the observations I have witnessed and drawn my conclusions from.

There are three different species that come to feed; Allens, Annas, and Black-chins. The feeder is located in an area where all three species habituate separate trees but from the same area like different apartment buildings on the same block. Because of this, the territory is guarded by the Allens and Black-chins on a turf mandate, not species specific.

From addressing them all ad hoc in the morning, the early risers have come to recognize my voice. Like a Disney cartoon, one or more birds will come up to swoosh up to hover and get a drink as I talk. Watching them drink once they are comfortable with that, you see their little tongue every now and then. Their throat moves in a manner like a dog as they shallow. A recent motion study offered this vid of the process.

Though I would like to imagine that the birds are aware of the fact that they drink the same bottled water that I do and maybe recognize the diff in taste over feeders that use tap water, it is no leap of faith to know that they have a sharp intelligence which does more than distinguish who is an outsider to the turf.

The first feeder and the one I call my winter feeder because now the ants attack it in the summer, has a lip on it which can allow a bird to perch and feed, resting his wings thereby saving energy. The Annas were the first to utilize the lip and perch, followed by the Black-chins. After a while different birds would swoop in, light, and seem to be having a frappuccino with dainty poise. The Annas are the cutest, the Black-chins the most art deco graceful, and the Allens are the roller derby crowd. I have seen an Allen chase away birds so big it looked like a motorcycle cop after a big rig.

At first there were fights over who was going to feed first or with whom, but with explaining that sharing is encouraged and there is enough for all since I’m the one providing the juice, there have been times when all four feeding stations have been occupied at once and with different species. Do they do this because of my words and sentiments? Well…

I went to Iowa a while back and bought a plastic solar powered light-up hummingbird garden figurine. I planted it not far from the feeder and the first few days it didn’t light up until after it was dark. Meanwhile I would tell them, as I talk to them at large in the morning, that I got them this token as a symbol of them. Several days in we got a cloudy patch of days when the garden hummer lit up before the sun went down.

A few days after the cloudy patch I walked over to the garden hummingbird, bent down and noticed that one of the hummers had marked the tail feathers section with some bird poop, directly on target, dead center. Indeed, they had seen my light-up plastic hummingbird figurine and knew the deal.

The picture below first seen in 420nurse Summer Rain’s photo group was the inspiration for my taking the responsibility of feeding these birds. It must also be noted that living in an area where there are no roaming feral animals due to bobcats and coyotes, is a plus in keeping an area safe enough for these little darts to zoom around freely. That’s life in Pleasantville.

420 and hummingbird

PT Rothschild

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