Joley got a bicycle for Christmas, and the first time she returned from a ride around the apartment complez with Colin she started going on and on about showing me "the hummingbird tree."
Once I took her out, I was amazed - one of the apartment complex residents has set up hummingbird feeders in several trees outside his house. It was impressive enough without the birds flying around, but we happened to be there this past Saturday evening right as the sun was setting, which was apparently prime time for hummingbird dinner.
The man who monitors the feeders was outside and talked to us for several minutes. He has twenty-four feeders spread out between a few trees and the hedges across the road, and he had more last year - forty-two in total. He makes four gallons of sugar water a week to maintain the feeders, and the ratio he uses is one cup of sugar to four cups of water. He said the most hummingbirds he ever had feeding at one time was about a hundred.
It was the most incredible thing - I've never seen that many hummingbirds gathered in one place before. Some of the feeders had six or seven birds around them. They zipped from feeder to feeder, flying within inches of us, and they chirped constantly. I never even realized hummingbirds made noise beyond the buzzing of their wings.
He told us that some of the hummingbirds migrate from Central America all the way up through Canada. He pointed out the iridescent feathers on the males, and the two different species of birds that were feeding at this time of year, and he told us with a mournful face how last year when it got down to 16 degrees, he got up in the morning to find nine dead hummingbirds on the lawn.
These feeders he set up for breeding season. Apparently the males get territorial and only let the females they mate with eat from their feeder, so spreading them out like this allows everyone to have an opportunity.
It felt sort of magical, and I wanted to share it with you, especially as this man's goal in life seems to be share his hummingbirds with the world. He stands outside waiting to talk to people who pass by - as we left, he was already talking to another couple who was out for their evening exercise.