Sunday, February 25, 2007

Got Him!

I have been trying to get a good photo of the owner of my hummingbird feeder for weeks and today I finally did it. Isn't he a jewel? But don't let his looks and diminutive size fool you, he can be quite ferocious, especially if some other creature tries to use his feeder. The rufous brown coloring and green back makes this an Allen's Hummingbird. His gorget (only males have such a magnificent gorget) can be red or gold depending on how the light hits it and he has to be directly facing you in order for you to see the colors. But he can actually control the "flashing" of this gorget to warn rivals away.

I make my own hummingbird nectar using 1 cup of sugar and 4 cups of water. I bring the syrup to a boil and simmer it for 5 minutes. After it has cooled a bit, I freeze the syrup in feeder-sized portions, which for my feeder and bird is about 1/2 cup. I clean (rinse with hot water—no soap) and change the feeder every 5 days in winter and 3 days in summer when it is hot. This recipe will make enough for about 7 changes.

The bird is perched on a branch of my Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis, a native California species that is just starting to bloom. Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge, CA, has a planting of several redbuds, both Eastern and Western that can put on a spectacular display in the spring. If mine is starting to bloom now, then theirs should be at their height in about two to three weeks.

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