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Flights Of Fancy: Tips For Keeping Hummingbirds Happy, Healthy & In Your Garden!

I love humming birds.

How they flit and chirp and never seem to sit still.  If time permitted, I’d spend a whole day watching them.

Living in Southern Cal, if this was a realistic aspiration, I would be able to do just that.

According to Native American lore, hummingbirds represent the animal spirit of joy.

But the other day when I found a dead hummer on the sidewalk, sorrow was what I felt.

As serendipity would have it, that same day I met an extraordinary woman.

She is known locally merely as The Hummingbird Lady.  In fact, that is her mailing address—The Hummingbird Lady; Lomita, CA. That’s it.

Sorta like the Santa of the South, she receives mail from all over the world with only a name and a destination noted on the envelope as the address.

While she doesn’t traverse the globe in one night delivering presents to good little boys and girls filled with the Xmas spirit, she does exemplify the spirit of compassion and human kindness.  She is juxtaposition of St. Francis and St. Nick, I suppose when get down to the core of it all.

The Hummingbird Lady runs a rescue site on her extensive property, where she nurses sick hummingbirds back to health.

She rehabilitates hundreds of hummers annually. We met at the oddest of places—at the local LFS. We met at the cash register. I was buying a Bolivian Ram pair for my tank; she was buying breeder cages and heaters. She also had two baby hummers in a box.

A small crowd had gathered around her amazed and in awe of the fragile tiny birds. I lingered afterwards. We chatted for quite some time. I also received quite the education with regard to hummingbirds after I mentioned how just earlier that very day I’d found a dead hummingbird. I told her it was intact. It not been attacked by a cat or other predator. It looked perfectly healthy, only it was dead.

The Hummingbird Lady immediately understood what had happened to the bird.

It died due to constant feeding at improperly maintained feeders hung on trees and in gardens by well-meaning nature enthusiasts.   It died from a fungal infection. She explained that fungus thrives in most commercial hummingbird feeders and not even a run thru the dishwasher can kill it. It is a slow and painful death for the birds.

They literally suffocate. I was horrified as I myself had three feeders in my garden. She proceeded to educate me on the proper type of feeder to use and asked me to spread the world to as many as I could as best I could.

I promised her I would. Hence, this article.

How to Keep Hummers Healthy and Safe and Returning to Your Feeder:

  1. Purchase a feeder that has no hidden areas as all inside surfaces must be physically cleaned.
  2. Avoid red dye, honey, and artificial sweeteners—only use sugar.
  3. Avoid feeders that have metal, especially if used as the synthetic simulated flowers petals.
  4. The correct food mixture ratio is 1 part sugar; 4 parts water. No exceptions.
  5. Wash the feeder every two days with very hot water. Use the scrub brush on all surfaces. Rinse well.

That’s it. So simple, yet so imperative. Follow these basic procedures and you will enjoy the wonderful sight of the flights of fancy provided to us free of charge from the magnificent creature called a hummingbird.

Read more posts by Alison Blasko, a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.