Friday, December 2, 2011

Got Hummingbirds?

At the Boyce Thompson Arboretum
This year has been a revelation for me in a lot of areas that surround my life.  Today, I'm going to make it official and "out myself" as an amateur birder.  It was inevitable.  I've always loved birds, but I really started getting into it more during our trip to Panama.  Ivan, if you are reading this, you knew it was going to happen:)  This is a series of shots from over the year in Panama, around Arizona, and in my backyard. 
Outside my dining room window
First off, if you want hummingbirds, you need to get a feeder.  This pic above is from my dining room window.  If you are beginning, keep your feeder somewhere close to your windows so that you enjoy the action.  The feeders are much cheaper than the regular bird feeders that require an expensive mixture of bird seed:) Hummers are attracted to reds and oranges and that's why most feeders are red.  Don't put red dye in the water and DO change out your feeder every week to prevent bacteria from building up.  You don't want your new friends to get sick.
The recipe is simple.    Boil 4 cups of water.  Add one cup of sugar. Mix together. Let cool and add to feeder.  Any leftover, put in fridge for switch out later on. The solution will last one week in the fridge. Simple and easy. And if you begin feeding the hummingbirds, remember to be consistent and regular with your feeding.  So no missing weeks:)  I kind of look at them as my adopted friends.  In fact, the birds now wait for me to come out and switch up their food for them and it makes me happy.  I love birds but I don't like seeing them in cages.  Birds were meant to fly.
I now am a proud gardener of 4 hummingbird families that swarm around the feeders.   If you live in Tucson or surrounding areas, you absolutely MUST try this out.  We are home to MANY hummers and you'll be rewarded for your efforts. 
The Sonoran Desert Museum

Things started happening for me when I put birdseed outside our window.  The birds came and with it, their music and antics.  I made the El Presidio Gardens come alive and actually feel like a real bird sanctuary.  Over the past years, we've had many visitors, but not like this.  Today we have lots of birds hanging around waiting for some food and fun.   Our dining room window has become the "big screen TV" for our cats.  It also captures the attention of our guests and friends around the grounds.  Everyone has been enjoying the visits from our new feathered friends.
Shots taken in Panama
There are so many kinds of hummingbirds that vary from color, size, and shape that it can be overwhelming for first timers.  And if that isn't confusing enough, the male and female look different from one another which can add to the confusion.
And let's not forget about the plants we use in our gardens.  Hummingbirds are attracted to long tubular flowered plants.  Several great plant choices for your landscape are.....the Blue palo verde, Foothills palo verde, Cascalote, Desert willow( I have my feeder on this tree as well!), Baja red fairy duster, Chuparosas, Hummingbird trumpet, Mexican honeysuckle, Penstemon species, Salvia species and Yellow bells are just some examples.
Some cacti and succulents include Ocotillo, Aloe species, and the Hesperaloe species(Red Yucca is a hummer magnet)!!!!  While yellow, orange, pink, and red blossom are a hummingbird favorite, they will also visit plants with blue flowers as well.
Most of our hummers have small nests located in our Live Oaks around the property.  The nest is tiny and adorable.  When babies emerge, they look like those large black bees flying out of their nests. I've found nests in the Xylosma, Live Oaks and Bamboo forests on the side of our home.
I have the feeling that this year is the beginning of my urban wildlife gardening in the Old Pueblo.  I also tend to think they are super intelligent creatures that are very territorial.  They've gotten so comfortable that they'll fly right next to me while I'm watering the garden and just hang out.  When I put the feeder out with fresh juice, they'll feed right next to me.  Of course, several of these little guys are the hatchlings from our nests on the property.
So what's your personal experience with these little critters?


  1. Wow! You have that many hummingbirds in your garden?!!! Your photos are impressive. My favourite is the 2nd last one. I don't think there are any hummingbirds here. The closest is the sun bird.

  2. Perfect recipe and you will see how guilty you may feel whenever a feeder is empty! The sun can be thirsty too at times... ;-)
    (I don't know if my comment went through...)

  3. Belas fotografias da Natureza...Espectacular....

  4. Did you go to Panama? Wow!!!
    Photos are overwhelming.
    Do you teach Spanish?
    I am Portuguese. I am a Literature teacher, Portuguese literature…here in Portugal.
    See you

  5. Hi BlueShell, Thanks for reading. I went to Panama for the summer and had a great time. I teach Spanish and Spanish Lit in Arizona. I love Portuguese but I'm not very good at it, but I do practice:)Hope you have a good weekend.

  6. I have two backyard hummingbird feeders and see broad-billed, black-chinned and Anna's, just one or two hummers at a time. The females are very hard to identify. I once found a tiny nest in a citrus tree.

    Your pictures are great, I love the one with the tail feathers fanned out!

  7. I'm so envious of your wonderful shots of the hummers. Tell me about your new camera!

  8. Thank you for kind words everyone:) I have really gotten into photography more this year Kathy with this fun camera:) I started last year when I began this blog with an iS20 Canon. For an early Christmas present this year, I now have a Canon Rebel T3I which has expanded my ability to snap different kinds of shots. The lense and shutterspeed on a manual camera are everything. Tomorrow night I brave the freezing temps and do some night shots at our Luminarias event here. It has been raining all weekend here! Crazy weather.


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