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Bring the Wildlife to You!

We are fortunate here in Southern California to have hummingbirds year round. Take advantage of it by setting up a hummingbird feeder in your yard.

Hummingbirds are tiny, weighing only a few grams. Their wings move so fast that hummingbirds can hover, and even fly backwards. They’re amazing to watch, but it’s difficult because they move so fast. So how can you get a good look at a hummingbird? Offer it food.

Hummingbirds eat nectar from flowers, which you can easily duplicate. First, you need a hummingbird feeder. There are many varieties, from plain plastic feeders to ornate pieces that match you garden décor. You need to find the right place to hang it. Right outside a window is idea, since kids can watch the hummingbirds without scaring them away. I have a string tied to a nail in the eave of the roof, and the hummingbird feeder hangs from that. Make sure that there are no places for sneaky cats to lie in wait, like the top of a fence or column.

Next you need nectar. You can buy it commercially or make it yourself. Making it is very easy. Put about a cup of sugar in a large measuring cup. Fill it up to 2 cups with boiling water and mix until the sugar is dissolved. A lot of people add red food coloring, since the birds are attracted to flower-like colors, but it’s not necessary, since most feeders have red plastic “flowers”. Wait for the mixture to cool, fill the feeder and put it out.

It may take some time for the hummingbirds to find your feeder, so be patient. Once the word gets out, you’ll have quite a show. Hummingbirds are territorial and will often try to chase each other away from the feeder. If you’re really lucky, a bird may stop fluttering its wings and actually stand on the little perch. Then you can get a really good look.

There are a few things to look out for. Like anything with sugar, hummingbird feeders attract ants. I’ve actually seen them climb down the string to get to the feeder! To prevent this, put thick, heavy chalk marks around where the nail is attached to your house. For some reason, the ants won’t cross it. Also, the nectar can get moldy. Once the crowds have discovered your feeder it won’t have a chance to get moldy before it’s gone. But at the beginning, if it’s been out for a few weeks you might have to empty the feeder, clean it out and start over.

Hummingbirds are the easiest pet you’ll ever have. There’s no cleanup, no training, and no vet bills. And you can enjoy them in any type of home from an apartment to a mansion.