Sunday, April 26, 2009

A welcome-home party for the birds

It takes more than color and scent to make a beautiful garden. You also need sound and movement, and one way to achieve both of those elements is to invite hummingbirds to party at your place.

During the growing season, I usually have several ruby-throated hummingbirds buzzing around my garden. Did you know that they can hover like little helicopters and even fly backwards when the mood strikes them? I love the zoom, zoom sound their wings make as they race from one stand of flowers to another. Hummers also make adorable little chirps and squeaks. The tiny birds can be difficult to spot in the garden because of their size and speed, but once you've become familiar with the sounds they make, you'll always know when your garden is being visited and you'll have fun trying to spot your little friends.

I keep a hand-blown glass hummingbird feeder just outside my office window, where the hummingbirds can entertain me all day. Sometimes I pick up the pair of opera glasses sitting here on my desk and spend a few moments studying my fascinating little guests.

Once hummingbirds have found a feeder, they'll return to it year after year. But to attract them in the first place, you have to get their attention--and nothing says "Party!" to a hummer like bright red ribbons tied to a feeder and stirring in the breeze like flowers nodding on their stems. Once several hummers have investigated and accepted your feeder, you can remove the ribbons, because the birds will have memorized its location.

I put up my hummingbird feeder several days ago, but it appears the hummers haven't yet returned from Florida or wherever they've been all winter. Today I put fresh sugar-water in the feeder and then raided my gift-wrapping supplies and found this huge floppy gold-trimmed Christmas bow. Yes, it's a bit much, but now every time I look out my office window, I smile and wonder how soon the hummers will show up for the party.

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