Hummingbird Feeder Wars

006“So why are all the hummingbirds at your feeder and none at mine?”

The afternoon was warm, the breeze gentle and the shrimp boats were drifting back and forth on the Sea of Cortez. A group of us had gathered, sitting and chatting, on Tom’s patio at his beachfront RV site. The comment had an accusatory edge.

032Bob leaned back to look at his trailer, two spaces down from Tom’s, and the frenzy of small birds flitting around the feeder hanging from his ladder.

“Maybe they’re shy because we’re all here,” he offered.

“They’re still all at your place even when there’s no one here.”

Feeding the hummingbirds, the chuparrosas, is a big thing here in Puerto Peñasco.

018Tom got up and gave his feeder a poke, watching it swing back and forth.

“The birds here aren’t shy. And we just filled this thing too.”

Tom tilted the feeder, watching the red nectar ooze from its tiny flowers.

“What are you using in it?” asked Bob. “I just use plain sugar. Four to one.”

“And you leave it clear? This is a special solution made just for hummingbird feeders.”

Jamie, a guest at the resort next door, had interrupted his stroll down the beachfront walkway to listen. “I use ordinary sugar, three to one, in mine. And you have to boil it for about 45 seconds so it doesn’t crystallize and plug up the feeder,” he suggested.

“Let’s do a scientific experiment.” Ed was the engineer, from next door. “Let’s swap feeders and see where the hummingbirds go.”

001There was a flurry of activity as the two hummingbird feeders were moved. Everyone settled back to wait.

023Nothing. No birds at either feeder.

Then, a lone hummingbird gingerly approached Tom’s feeder hanging on Bob’s trailer, circled, circled again, and left. Then both feeders hung there, abandoned, the hummingbirds all apparently having left the area in search of better feeders elsewhere.

The feeders were swapped back to their original locations –  with no clear answer to the mystery.

004“You should change the solution, Tom. Maybe that stuff is killing them.”

“It’s made for hummingbirds.”

Tom brought out the box of feeding solution. “It says here mix four to one. And not to boil it.”

Suddenly, in a flash of inspiration he snatched up the feeder jar, unscrewed it in a dribble of red syrup, and handed the jar and box of feeding solution to his wife.

“Here, Carma. Put in some extra mix.”

Carma disappeared into the motorhome. In a few moments she reappeared and handed the jar to Tom, who reassembled the feeder and hung it back on the hook. It rocked back and forth a few times and them came to rest.

Now we’ll see.”

We all waited.

Still, no birds came to either feeder.

Daylight was fading. Maybe tomorrow the hummingbirds would come back.

*          *          *

018The following afternoon I was strolling down the walkway. I stopped at Tom’s place to watch a chuparrosa feasting at his feeder. I glanced up and saw that Bob had shuffled over. He looked at the hummingbird, then at me, and squinted.

“Hmmph. Now he’s stealing my birds.”

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