The new welfare class

That’s what my husband Ben calls the hummingbirds. We have a yard and garden full of blooming things, but I have a dozen or so birds (apparently the contingent that wintered in Mexico has finally worked their way this far north) who squabble consistently over my little 6-flower hummingbird feeder.

It’s far better than the soaps on TV. They each have a personality, and although some of them keep a fairly low profile, others would rather fight than eat. There is one that I call The Guardian (Ben calls her The Bitch) who likes to sit on a nearby branch and monitor the feeding. When she thinks it’s time to do so, she descends like a Valkyrie and wipes the feeder clean with her beak and wings. It stays empty, on the average, for about 10 seconds.

There is another bird who is very nervous. She is a problem, because she hovers and buzzes the entire time she’s eating. Ben says she probably never saw a flower with a footrest before. But her buzzing makes the other birds think The Guardian is about to descend, and they all start flying around and beaking each other and generally behaving like unruly toddlers.

When I said that it was like having a dozen preschool kids, Ben said, “Well, look at the bright side. You don’t have to give them baths, wipe their bottoms, or pick up their toys.” Point taken.

This morning I got up at 6 a.m. because I knew the feeder was low on food. I made some the night before but hadn’t refilled it. My feeder holds about a quart of syrup. I filled it at 6 a.m. By 6 p.m. it was bone dry. I made some more food, but since it takes awhile to cool, I took the feeder down so the birds wouldn’t find it empty and abandon it. Besides, it needed cleaning. For the next half hour three of the rufous birds fought fiercely over who owned the airspace where the feeder used to be, all the while surrounded by colorful flowers.

But a quart in 12 hours–I think I’ve created a monster. Today at any given time (at least while I was home–it’s my writing day in town), there were from 4 to 7 birds on the feeder. Yes, 7–there are times when they share not just the perch but the feeding hole. The little green Calliopes are better at this than the Ruby-throats.

So there’s new food cooling downstairs, the feeder is clean, and I’ll probably be up by 6 tomorrow again.

They are so beautiful.

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2 Responses to “The new welfare class”

  1. MoskerVenice Says:

    New welfare class? Nah, as someone who does my big drives on serially refilled Double Gulps of Diet Coke, they’re just being good Americans. Hmmm…eat all you want, burn it off constantly. The Hummingbird Diet. You ready to come down to Los Angeles and pitch it to the stars with me?

  2. mklekacz Says:

    Dave, you have the metabolism to butn this stuff off. Some of us don’t. . .

    But “Diet” Coke? Do you know what that stuff does to your kidnets? I’d rather wreck mine with good scotch.

    And it would take more that a new “diet for the stars” to get me to LA. Trust me.

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