Without even knowing if there were any around, I got my wife a hummingbird feeder a couple of Mother’s Days ago to hang off our second-story covered deck. It took a while for the little birds to find it and we didn’t even see any for a while but the level was slowly dropping so we knew they were around. I think all last summer I may have only had to refill it once. Maybe twice. When we did see one come to the feeder, we’d all sit still and quiet so as not to interupt their feeding and get a good look at one of God’s small miracles. My wife or kids or myself would always have a cute little comment about how marvelous this little helicopters were and “ahhed” each time we heard a little chirp in between drinks. I read some where the hummingbird feeders should be taken down in early October to keep the little beauties from the temptation of not migrating to their winter homes. This, it turns out isn’t true. You can leave your hummer feeder up for a week or two after you’ve seen the last one of the season. So it came down last fall and was stored in the garage until it was time for them to return.
This year we put the feeder up around the first part of April and began to see them around everybody’s favorite national holiday, Tax Return Day. They started slow using that feeder but I figured with spring on track they had plenty to choose from with the pine trees gearing up for another summer of growth. Or maybe these were just the birds leading the pack during the northern migration and weren’t the birds that would be our neighbors for the summer. In any case I didn’t have to refill that feeder for the first time for almost two months. The color had faded to clear for a few weeks before I changed it out but the level was still dropping.
Now I use a mix you can probably pretty much buy anywhere. I wondered if I sweetened it up a little if the birds would hit it more. I know you can’t use artificial sweetners as it would make the little things sick So I boiled a couple of tablespoons of sugar in about one half cup of water, let it cool and stirred in the mix. I cleaned the feeder as it should be done every time it’s refilled, hung it back up on that beam that supports the roof over my deck and hoped they’d like it.
I had no idea what I was starting. Now when you step out onto our deck, you’re stepping into a war zone. We’ve got hummingbirds coming in all the time. And they all think that feeder was put up just for them. We’ve been witnessing some rather amazing aerial combat scenes that would impress some fighter pilots. One will come in to feed and it’ll have 1 or 2 other birds come in at kamikaze speed to chase it off. And some of them don’t chase off so easily anymore. What once sounded like cute little hummingbird chirps have been replaced by what I’m sure are warnings, insults and profanities in their language being ripped off at machine gun speed in the heat of battle. Some of these confrontations have spilled into our deck area where they come blazing in just missing anyone or anything in the way and sending innocent by-standers diving for cover. You can imagine what this does to our four cats.
Now I’m refilling this feeder about every two weeks. It ran out once about a month ago and we had hummingbirds right up against our sliding glass door glaring in at us. My son thought they were watching the TV but I’ve seen the true nature of these “cute” little birds. I waited until nightfall to creep out unto the deck in full camouflage to retrieve the empty bottle and get it filled before first light. I don’t want to go through that again.
I’ve learned something from this. Just because something looks and sounds sweet and its nourishment comes from the sweetest things in creation doesn’t make it so. That and the camies I wore when I was in the Marines 20 years ago have really shrunk.

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