Nectar makes hummingbirds at home in Odessa garden

My husband, Jay, recently returned from our neighbors' and announced hummingbirds were zooming around their place.

"If there, then here," I remarked.

We've lived at our place for 34 years, and while we have a variety of critters at our rural Odessa home, we'd never seen hummingbirds. I've long been intrigued by the unique little fellows but sort of figured they were more suited to other climates, like North Carolina, where we have enjoyed their antics many times, hovering around an outdoor porch during the summer.

I trotted out and bought a hummingbird feeder, heeding the advice of my sister in Indiana — who has dozens of hummingbirds at her place — that the feeder should be red, since the tiny little birds seem to favor that color. I mixed a batch of nectar: one part granulated sugar to two parts water, heated it until dissolved, let it cool completely and poured a cup in the feeder. On Saturday, I hung the feeder off our deck near large pots of rose colored impatiens, having read hummingbirds are drawn to brightly colored flowers.

Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical. Late Sunday evening, as Jay and I were sitting down for dinner, I jokingly said I hoped one day he'd hear me call out, "Got one!" That would indicate a hummingbird sighting.

We were enjoying dinner in front of the large glass doors that give a good view of our back yard. "Got one!" I shouted.

Jay gave me a disbelieving grin and said, "Sure you did. You're teasing."

Then he shot to standing and exclaimed "Did YOU see that?! We have hummingbirds!"

We finished dinner and perched ourselves on the deck, sitting quietly, enjoying the little birds that seemed to drop out of the trees to slurp the sweet nectar. For more than an hour, it was a constant flurry of activity. I had my camera posed for a shot to confirm later that we REALLY did have hummingbirds.

It's hard to photograph these tiny birds that can almost be mistaken for dragonflies. Weighing less than a penny and with a wingspan of four inches, the tiny birds flutter their wings so fast they are a blur. In feeding, they pose at the port, slurp the sweet liquid, hover back a few inches and then return for seconds, thirds or fourths. They feed for a few seconds. Then in a flash, they're gone.

The experts at the University of Florida say three types of hummingbirds primarily frequent Florida, the main one being the ruby-throated kind distinguishable by the bright red "scarf-like" band around the front of the neck. Some hummingbird enthusiasts have documented up to a dozen species here, though.

It's a real treat to enjoy these little fellows, so bring out that hummingbird feeder and enjoy the visit. Better yet, come by the Pioneer Florida Museum's Hummingbird Festival on Saturday. Its gardens are blooming with plants designed to attract the winged wonders. Perhaps you'll catch a glimpse of one of these beautiful little fellows.

.if you go

Festival for them

The Hummingbird Festival will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Pioneer Florida Museum, 15602 Pioneer Museum Road, Dade City. Admission is $6 adults; $5 seniors; and $2 students. Activities include hummingbird and butterfly gardens; presentation on bats, butterflies and birds; traditional crafts; bluebird boxes; native plants and wildlife garden plants. The Hallelujah Sisters and Misters will perform bluegrass and gospel music in concert at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. For information, call the museum at (352) 567-0262.

by the numbers

338 Known species of hummingbirds in North and South America

16 Species of hummingbirds commonly found in the United States

3 Species of hummingbirds that primarily frequent Florida (though more have been spotted)

Source: University of Florida

Nectar makes hummingbirds at home in Odessa garden 05/16/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 9:03pm]

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