Hummers at your window - a great gift idea!By Jan Recchio (grampapa)
December 3, 2007
Last year was the first time I attempted to attract hummingbirds to my garden by deliberately planting nectar plants and hanging hummingbird feeders. While I was researching the various types of hummingbird feeders available, I came across some that attach to the outside of a window with suction cups. I was fascinated, but wondered if the little birds would really come that close to the house. Having no real knowledge of them at the time, but a burning desire to get to know them, I decided to purchase several feeders.
I already had a bottle-type feeder in my closet that I had purchased just after we bought our house in anticipation of having a hummingbird garden at some point. It had been sitting there for 3 years and I almost forgot about it. As I surfed the web looking at the various feeders available and asking questions of those more knowledgeable, I decided to purchase a HummZinger by Aspects. I got the 12 ounce model. There is a 16 ounce size available, but as I was planning on more than one feeder I didn't think I needed the extra volume. As a postscript, the HummZinger turned out to be very easy to clean and the hummers liked it very much. But they liked the Opus bottle feeder, too. It was a little more trouble to clean, but the glass bottle can be put in the dishwasher.
Now it was time to shop for a window feeder. It turned out there were lots of choices, mostly in the $10 to $20 range. An internet search for 'hummingbird window feeder' will turn up a whole list of possibilities for you. I'm an internet shopper, but you can very likely find one at a local retailer also. Bird feeders are carried at pet stores, feed stores, garden centers, large discount department stores and many others.
I decided to buy a Heritage Farms saucer-type window feeder, mostly because it resembled the highly recommended HummZinger. It retails for around $15. This one is also easy to clean and fill. It lifts off the base that attaches to the window. Then you simply unscrew the top, wash the top and bottom, refill and reassemble. You should always clean the feeding ports with a pipecleaner or one of the little brushes made for this purpose and wash the feeder in hot water with no soap. They should be cleaned and refilled frequently, especially in hot weather, to keep the nectar from spoiling and mold from forming. Here's a good link with a lot of information about feeders and maintenance including cleaning.
In May, I hung my HummZinger on a pole near my pool and within sight of the great room window. There was also a nyjer feeder for finches on that pole. I bought a large hanging pot of Fuschia 'Blue Eyes' to further entice the little flying jewels and hung that on the same pole. Fuschia is a favorite nectar plant of hummingbirds. The bottle feeder went on another pole at the other end of the house. Ever the optimist, I hoped to have enough hummers that there would be territory issues. My reading suggested placing multiple feeders out of sight of one another. I wanted the 'main' feeder to be the one we could see from our great room because that is where we spend most of our time. Logically then, I thought, I put the window feeder on the great room window. Of course, this was totally ignoring the territory issue that I planned for with the other feeder. Logic, schmogic, I wanted to be able to see them!
The fuchsia did its job. On July 21st, we were relaxing in our pool and saw our first hummer, feeding from the fuchsia. After that there were several different individuals, probably 3 or 4, frequenting both the feeders and the flowers. On close observation, we felt that at least 2 of them were juveniles. They came to the feeders at various times of day, but 7 p.m. was regular enough that you could almost set the clock by it. All the feeders were used, but, selfishly, I wanted them at the window feeder. One day when the bottle feeder needed refilling, I cleaned it but didn't put it back out. Kind of a dirty trick on my new little friends, but it sure did increase the traffic at the window feeder.
With the 7 p.m. observation in mind, I could be ready with my camera, sitting on a chair just inside the window.
I learned several things:
- keep the window clean
- don't forget to keep the flash turned off
- use a sport or fast action setting
I really liked the Heritage Farms window feeder. All the hummingbirds seem to require is that you keep the feeder filled, regardless of the brand or style. This is now my second year and the funny little birds will go around the house to my patio door, hover and look in if the feeders go dry. They know that's where I emerge with the filled feeders. Of course, I try not to let that happen too often. I don't want my friends to move on to 'sweeter pastures'. The only drawback I saw was that the suction cups block some of the view of the birds, particularly when you are trying to take photos. So next season I will buy one with the suction cups below the section with the feeding ports. There are several in the illustrations of the window feeders above. This feeder will be kept and used on another window. It's much too well-designed to discard.
Our friends were truly amazed when they visited and were able to see the hummingbirds feeding or resting right at the window. Many of them had never seen a hummer at all, never mind up close and personal. Imagine the delight on the face of a child! Any amateur birder or nature lover on your list would be pleased to open this gift.