More about hum­ming­birds

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Jamie Drake jamiedrake­out­doors@out­look.com

Many read­ers sent me emails re­gard­ing last week’s col­umn about hum­ming­birds. Ob­vi­ously I’m not alone in my en­thu­si­asm for those back­yard buzz-bombers.

It doesn’t take much to feed them, and in re­turn they en­ter­tain us all sum­mer long with their aerial dis­plays of zip and pluck.

It’s not too late to get into the hum­ming­bird craze your­self. All you need is a feeder (or two) and reg­u­lar white gran­u­lated sugar from the bak­ing aisle of the lo­cal gro­cery store. Just mix one part sugar to four parts wa­ter un­til all the sugar is dis­solved. It helps to heat the wa­ter on the stove to make the process go faster. But make sure the so­lu­tion cools to room tem­per­a­ture be­fore pour­ing it into your feed­ers.

And about the feed­ers: These days there are so many dif­fer­ent kinds to choose from it can be a chal­lenge to pick one. When buy­ing a feeder, it’s im­por­tant to read the la­bel to know if you can just pop the parts into the top rack of your dish­washer, some­thing that makes clean up a breeze. Any feeder that has red or painted glass will have to be cleaned by hand, and those fin­ishes will even­tu­ally wear off from ex­po­sure to the el­e­ments and weekly wash­ing.

I’ve had just about ev­ery kind of feeder avail­able on the mar­ket the past 15 years. My fa­vorite brand is Perky Pet, which has been around for decades, and for good rea­son be­cause the de­signs are clas­sic and built to last. You can find this ubiq­ui­tous brand in just about ev­ery large gar­den cen­ter with a bird­feed­ing sec­tion. Of course, their feed­ers are avail­able on­line, too.

My fa­vorite feeder is the small 3-ounce “Planter Box” feeder that comes with a hang­ing rod. I have about a half-dozen of these lit­tle feed­ers. The Perky Pet ver­sion works great and is priced at about $5 per feeder. The off-brand ver­sions work al­most as well, for a frac­tion of the price, but with some quirks such as it tak­ing a lit­tle more ef­fort to get the lid threaded on, which might be a has­sle for some.

I like to put one in a hang­ing bas­ket on my front porch, nes­tled in with the gen­uine flower blooms so the hum­ming­birds have a more nat­u­ral ex­pe­ri­ence sip­ping nec­tar. But the best way to use these feed­ers, in my opin­ion, is with a suc­tion cup hook on a win­dow. Put the feed­ers on the win­dows of the rooms you’re in the most, and you’ll be amazed at how of­ten those tiny avian vis­i­tors fre­quent the feed­ers right in front of your nose.

I’ve tried the more ex­pen­sive win­dow feed­ers, but they don’t seem to re­li­ably stay at­tached to the glass very long, and frankly some of the de­signs out there ob­struct the view of the hum­ming­bird, de­feat­ing the pur­pose of a win­dow feeder. So take my ad­vice, get your­self a cou­ple of the small feed­ers with the hang­ing rods and put them on your win­dows with suc­tion cups from the hard­ware store.

And while you’re at it, get

more than just one. Hum­ming­birds can be ter­ri­to­rial lit­tle bug­gers and some­times a par­tic­u­larly ag­gres­sive hum­mer will stake a claim on a cer­tain feeder and chase off any other bird that tries to drink from it. Spread­ing out sev­eral feed­ers en­sures there’s a place for all of them to drink.

And lastly, you’ll prob­a­bly have to deal with ants at some point this sum­mer. Once they find a source of food, it’s hard to get rid of them. For the win­dow feed­ers, I just clean the win­dow and move the feeder a few feet away from the old lo­ca­tion. That works just fine un­til the ants find it again, usu­ally after a cou­ple days, which is about how of­ten we should wash the feed­ers and change the sugar wa­ter any­way.

For the feed­ers hang­ing on the shep­herd’s hooks through­out my gar­den, I use an­other Perky Pet prod­uct called an ant guard. I’ve tried dif­fer­ent ant-aver­sion meth­ods — from moats, wa­ter reser­voirs, and even Vicks Vapo-Rub once in ab­ject des­per­a­tion — and noth­ing works as well as the ant guard.

The two pieces of plas­tic con­tain a thin layer of Per­methrin (the ac­tive in­gre­di­ent in the kind of sham­poo that kills lice), and the ants stay away like magic. While I wouldn’t rec­om­mend us­ing the ant guard to hold your soup or let your cat play with it, it’s safe to use for its in­tended pur­pose and re­ally works.

Be­cause the hooks on the ant guard are a bit too small to fit over the di­am­e­ter of a shep­herd’s hook, I just slip a d-ring cara­biner clip over the hook and hang the ant guard and feeder from the clip. These ant guards will last mul­ti­ple sea­sons and I’ve only had to re­place them when the plas­tic has worn out from sev­eral sum­mers in the hot sun.

Now is the per­fect time to put up a hum­ming­bird feeder. These tiny birds just fin­ished mi­grat­ing all the way from dis­tant lo­cales in Mex­ico or Cen­tral Amer­ica. It’s a true feat of na­ture they can make such long trips twice a year. Cel­e­brate their ar­rival by putting out a good meal for the ones that pass through your yard.

Draft Ad­den­dum V

The folks at the At­lantic States Marine Fish­eries Com­mit­tee are gear­ing up for their an­nual meet­ing to be held May 8 to 11 in Alexan­dria, Va.

One of the items up for ac­tion is Draft Ad­den­dum V for striped bass man­age­ment, a pro­posal to in­crease striped bass al­lot­ments for com­mer­cial fish­er­men up and down the At­lantic coast.

A cou­ple months ago it was oys­ter sanc­tu­ar­ies. Just a few weeks ago the com­mer­cial crab­bing lobby started pres­sur­ing the Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources to in­crease har­vest lim­its and re­duce the min­i­mum size. Now we need to add striped bass to the list of nat­u­ral re­sources that are un­der as­sault.

If you want to voice your opin­ion to help pro­tect this fish­ery for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of recre­ational an­glers, reach out to your lo­cal elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

The of­fice of Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) can be reached through the web­site http://gov­er­nor. mary­land.gov/mail/ de­fault.asp and David Blazer, the DNR Fish­ing and Boat­ing Ser­vices Di­rec­tor who also sits on the ASMFC board, can be con­tacted via his of­fi­cial email at david. blazer@mary­land.gov.

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