Hummingbirds

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Hummingbirds

Postby skeeter » Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:03 pm

We have fed the Hummers for years and always enjoy the "swarms" of birds we get at our multiple large feeders at this time of year. They keep us busy with constant cleanings and re-fills.

This year they were late in arriving and suddenly, over the past few days we have noticed they have left for points South, very, very early for some reason. Our numbers of birds that were showing up are probably down by over 60% or more.

Others are reporting the same behavior and no idea why this has occurred so unusually early.

Anyone else keep track of them and how few birds are still hanging around ?
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Re: Hummingbirds

Postby Mack » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:33 pm

We've only had the swarms a time or two. I think read that those are juvenile birds gathering for migration. We always have some around, but the past couple of years the numbers are down. We've tried multiple feeders and it seems that one bird tries to dominate all of them. It's entertaining to sit on the deck and watch them have a buzz off. We had none in Nebraska, so it's a treat for us.
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Re: Hummingbirds

Postby skeeter » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:44 am

The usual "Bully Birds" were really fierce this year. Not much you can do about them until enough birds arrive to overwhelm them and they finally give up. Sometimes it works to separate the feeders as much as possible.

We had about 40-50 birds at one time which is down from previous years. Best estimate is that there are maybe 10 birds still here feeding-up. The way we arrive at "best guess numbers" is by the number of feeders we put out X the numbers of feeding ports at each feeder. When all the ports have a bird on them (usually in the morning or late evening) we take a crack at estimating the number of birds still airborne and trying to get a spot at the feeder + the occupied feeder ports. It's sure not accurate but it's a start.

The extremely early departure of so many birds has me wondering why because we have never seen this happen this early before. Is it our terribly dry conditions that has stopped the flowers from blooming maybe ?

Watching the feeder action and the aerial dogfights beats a bug zapper and a six-pack for entertainment :lol:
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Re: Hummingbirds

Postby Mack » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:51 pm

And, I do not believe that is a coincidence that the bully birds are primarily female.
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Re: Hummingbirds

Postby FAADAN » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:20 pm

skeeter wrote:The usual "Bully Birds" were really fierce this year. Not much you can do about them until enough birds arrive to overwhelm them and they finally give up. Sometimes it works to separate the feeders as much as possible.

We had about 40-50 birds at one time which is down from previous years. Best estimate is that there are maybe 10 birds still here feeding-up. The way we arrive at "best guess numbers" is by the number of feeders we put out X the numbers of feeding ports at each feeder. When all the ports have a bird on them (usually in the morning or late evening) we take a crack at estimating the number of birds still airborne and trying to get a spot at the feeder + the occupied feeder ports. It's sure not accurate but it's a start.

The extremely early departure of so many birds has me wondering why because we have never seen this happen this early before. Is it our terribly dry conditions that has stopped the flowers from blooming maybe ?

Watching the feeder action and the aerial dogfights beats a bug zapper and a six-pack for entertainment :lol:

We never have near that many but I only put out one feeder.
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Re: Hummingbirds

Postby skeeter » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:42 am

We begin in early April by hanging out one small, 8 oz. feeder until we notice the Northbound migrators beginning to arrive and gradually put more of the little feeders out (if the destructive "rose breasted" or "red-bellied" Woodpeckers do not destroy them) until we reach three in total. We know that when the Hummers go on the nest they will all but disappear as their food source then becomes insects for the protein.

Mid-July we start seeing the fledged nestlings being brought to the feeders in increased numbers by the adults and cannot keep up with demand so we start deploying our large 48 oz. feeders and always have had to bring out all five of them in previous years to keep-up with the numbers of birds we have always had.

This year, despite the mild Winter we had, the birds arrived at our location very late and the numbers of birds were way down. We never had to put out large feeder #5 and I' m just about ready to bring #4 in as soon as the remaining birds empty it.

At the height of the usual annual feeding frenzy, when they are trying to build up reserves for the Winter migration, we will clean and re-fill each of those large feeders in a 24 hr. period. This year, that re-filling frequency increased to about a 36 to 48 hr. average period.

And yes, we feed the other birds year-round. :tup:

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Re: Hummingbirds

Postby Mack » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:04 pm

I take our seed(sunflower only) feeders down in late spring and they'll go back up next month. I didn't know coons liked sunflower seed until this spring. He's no longer with us.
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Re: Hummingbirds

Postby skeeter » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:28 pm

Outstanding !

Same here with the addition of Skunks, Possums and the usual squirrels. An even dozen of Pepe Le' Pew's Cousins each of the previous two years at the feeders but, thankfully, not even one this year. Developed a somewhat odorless extermination method (not always) for the Polecats and the Tree Rats are always fair game except for my pet "Rusty", an exceptionally large Fox Squirrel.

Our Coon "problems" occur over at our timed Deer feeder and I have to keep a close watch (after dark with a large spotlight) on the numbers of them or they put the word out and just arrive in ridiculous numbers. An old trap baited with Purina's Kibbles and Bits works pretty well and our local Turkey and Black Vulture community are always thankful for the results. :blow:
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Re: Hummingbirds

Postby Mack » Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:23 am

It seems we have 1000's of scraggly gray squirrels, but only a few fox. Too many leaves on the trees right now to deal with them. We have a couple of skunks the size of a dog that show up around the house occasionally. I leave them alone. We had a wood chuck looking in out front door a while back. I had a had time getting him to leave.
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Re: Hummingbirds

Postby skeeter » Thu Sep 14, 2017 8:25 am

Those pesky gray squirrels are all off cutting nuts for the Winter right now and have abandoned the feeders. Back in the 70's mostly all we would see around here and up in the shoreline woods while fishing was those big Fox Squirrels. Then the "Gray" variety moved in and the Red or Fox variety started a long decline. You'd think a color variation would just be a simple thing but the behavior characteristics are really different.

I take out every Gray I can hit if they are at the bird feeders trying to climb up and after expensively having to have one removed from our Attic when there are acres and acres of trees around. I am very leery of them getting anywhere near our home.

Local Skunks were feeding at the base(s) of our feeders at night and my Wife was almost sprayed by one two years ago when she had to take one of the Pooches out at night for an unusual potty-break. We both still wonder how she escaped getting sprayed since the thing actually ran across her foot. Like Coons, Skunks often "carry" rabies but are far more subject to actually coming down with it but at least they do not carry that blinding or deadly Parasite in their Scat that all Coons do.

"Woodchuck looking in your front door"....now that's funny ! :lol:
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Re: Hummingbirds

Postby Mack » Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:30 pm

A neighbor caught a skunk on his dock instead of the mink he was hoping to get. It was in live trap. He called me asked if I would do something so I grabbed a pistol and headed down the hill. I don't know how it got caught, it looked like it was stuffed in the trap. He didn't want me to shoot it, so I suggested kicking it over the edge into the water. Nope, didn't want to kill it. Not sure what his plan was but he tied a long rope to the cage and had his wife drag it off with their golf cart, It sprayed all the way down his walkway and across his lot and then got out.
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Re: Hummingbirds

Postby skeeter » Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:32 am

Ha, ha....he was trapping Mink ? Thought those coats were no longer "in-fashion" :wink: ?

Long pole, push the Polecat off the dock and recover the cage with a grappling hook later. Fish under the dock would not enjoy that though since they do, reportedly, have some sense of smell :lol:

We have storm-drain pipes/tubes around here that the Skunks love to get into and travel through. Our next-door neighbor, who has a cute little dog that is allowed in the house, observed a Skunk going into a pipe just before dawn that runs under their driveway. They were concerned the dog would get sprayed when it investigated. He set some oily rags on fire that produced a lot of smoke at the lower end of the pipe and waited a short distance from the upper end and dispatched the thing when it came out. If you shoot 'em, let the carcass sit for about 6 hours until "rigor" sets in then carefully slide a shovel under it from the head-end, just in case, and toss it in the Woods. Vultures enjoy them too !

If you don't keep the numbers of these varmints down, you'll soon be overrun with them but then we had the "Cat Lady" about two miles away who not only had 23 cats but fed the Coons, Possums, Skunks etc. and went through at least one 50 lb. bag of dog food every week and that was just for the varmints. You could smell that house, if you were downwind of it, at least a 1/4 mile away.
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Re: Hummingbirds

Postby Mack » Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:14 pm

We had a dog, the late great Mack, that killed every skunk he came across. Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dawn soap were my friends. He left the carcasses in the neighbors yard.
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Re: Hummingbirds

Postby skeeter » Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:51 am

I do believe all the Hummers have departed for points South. However, we always leave one feeder up until about 10-15 to help-out any stragglers passing thru and get an occasional migrator feeding-up.

This year, with the incredible late warmth, we just may extend that 10-15 date a bit just in case but the experts claim the weather has nothing to do with the migration other than they like to head South when a Cold front blows through so they can catch a tail-wind.
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Re: Hummingbirds

Postby Mack » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:45 am

Ours have been gone for several days. Coons like sugar water.
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