By Darial Weisman
It was with a sad heart that I watched the month of August come to a close. By that time, most of the hummingbirds had left for their annual flight south. They are such delightful birds and with the flowers and feeders we have around, they are a constant joy. They are little bombers that flit and hover and then disappear…only to return. Each day offers something new.
Twice this past summer I witnessed something I had never seen before. I was standing on our deck watering plants on the patio below. I was using a soft shower setting, so there was a mist that spread out as the water descended to the plants.
All of a sudden, right into the mist flew a hummingbird, It just hovered there taking in the cooling mist. After it was completely wet, it landed on a leaf of one of my hydrangea bushes.
Then to my surprise, it began to finish its bath in the leaf. First, it put its belly in the water and ruffled up its feathers. Then it lay on its back in the water. Finally, it stood up, shook off the water and preened itself before flying off. Never have I seen a hummingbird in one place for that long. Unfortunately, I did not have my phone with me to get a video of this. Twice this happened. That’s what my husband and I like about our backyard bird feeding. You never know what you will find.
Although we don’t purposely feed them and we have squirrel baffles to keep them out of our bird feeders, we do enjoy watching the squirrels. However, we are going to have to address one of their habits that we just noticed as we started putting our summer chairs away. Whether it was one or more than one, the squirrels gnawed on the metal part of several chairs and tool the coating right off the metal. I am sure they were sharpening their teeth. Starting next spring, we are going to have to spray the deck railing and back of the chairs with a rodent spray that is supposed to keep the little critters away. They really did a number on a couple of them, and we are going to have to sand down and re-coat those areas.
As we move toward late fall and at the brink of winter, lots of new birds are replacing our summer visitors. It is a good idea to clean out all of your feeders and your bird waterers. Water is so very important for our birds. You would think snow would do the trick, but the waterers really help make their winter much easier. To water in the winter, however, it is important to have a good heating element that will keep the water open.
One of my favorite times of the day is sitting in our sunroom with a cup of coffee just at daybreak. You would not believe all of the birds that come to the feeder at dawn. Two of our most secretive visitors are our cardinals. They are always there early and then again sometimes late in the day right before dark.
For that reason, it is a good idea to check the feeders in the late afternoon and make sure they are full and ready for the lowlight visitors!