Hummingbirds are such amazing creatures. I love watching them and have made several designs honoring these magical little guys including a wall clock, alarm clock, set of magnets, nightlight and magnetic bookmark.
So tiny, the smallest hummingbirds can weigh in at less than the weight of a penny, full-grown. Though small and delicate, they are also incomprehensibly fast and vigorous and can amazingly migrate hundreds of miles in windy conditions, all while subsisting on a diet of flower nectar and gnats.
Many people like to attract these brightly-feathered friends by hanging a backyard hummingbird feeder. I just put one out last week and am so thrilled to watch them flutter in to feed. I did some research afterwards and to my surprise, learned that hummingbirds rely on these feeders in areas or times of year when blossoms are scarce. So they are not only for our enjoyment, they keep them alive. Hummingbirds can live many years without our help, but I had no idea that they often rely on the charity of us bird-watching humans.
Sadly, feeders can also kill them. The wrong ratio of sugar to water, or a dirty feeder can be deadly to hummingbird.
Here are some tips I found on how to safely feed and care for hummingbirds in your backyard habitat:
1. Use the secret recipe for hummingbird nectar: Boil water to kill any fungus or bacteria that could be harmful to the birds. Measure 4 parts post-boil, and add 1 part sugar-just enough to keep them coming back. The secret is that this is the only recipe. (Too sweet can damage their liver!)
2. Hang feeders in a safe place: in the shade, spaced from window panes, not accessible to cats or other predators.
3. Keep it natural! Commercial hummingbird feed, or additives like red dye are unnecessary for hummingbirds and may not be healthy for them. Keep it simple with the sugar water recipe above, which is close to the nectar substance they get from flowers in the wild.
4. Keep it clean! Hummingbird feeders can host a fungus that is deadly to these winged beauties. Wash the feeder thoroughly in hot water every couple days, and if it ever looks funky, wash it out immediately.
5. Feed hummingbirds gourmet wild foods! If you want to go beyond the sugar water feeder, flower and seed mixes for hummingbirds can be purchased at a garden or feed store, and spoiled fruit set out in a bucket will attract fruit flies which make a very nutritious food for hummingbird babies. Who knew!
6. Never mess with a nest of baby hummingbirds. While the mothers may be gone for long periods, and back so quickly you don’t see her, the babies have the best chance of survival without human interference. Never attempt to remove a baby from a hummingbird nest at any time. They are extremely delicate (as small as honeybees) and can lose their legs if pulled from their perch.
Enjoy your visits from hummingbirds, but always leave them in their natural environment undisturbed. If you want to bring them in your home, choose one of my hummingbird gifts, created from my original paintings, appropriate for all indoor environments.
1. Battery-powered alarm clock – great for travel! This tiny 2″ alarm clock is made from a print of my painting of this nectar-seeking hummingbird in a flower patch. The yellow and purple flower counts off seconds, appearing to hover magically over the clock face. Such a moment, when observed in your yard is quickly fleeting, but here it is appropriately captured in time. Wake up to this beauty every morning.
2. Glass gem magnets – in a reusable gift tin. Would you like to see hummingbirds get even tinier? These tiny magnets are super strong. They are perfect for sticking notes and pictures on your fridge and will not fall down like many magnets do. They are made from micro prints of my hummingbird paintings encased in real glass. A beautiful flock of guests to cheer up your kitchen.
3. Nightlight – Light up the summer nights with the image of your brilliant garden friends. Our night lights plug into any outlet and bring colorful cheer to the darkness. The nightlight is made from a print of my original hummingbird paintings sandwiched between two pieces of durable acrylic, with an easy on-off switch. These make great decor for a kids’ room or guest room.
4. Wall clock- Keep time with one of our whimsical wall clocks. My wall clocks are made from colorful high-quality prints of my original artwork affixed to a durable lightweight backing, and look just like tile. Unlike ceramic, it is light enough to hang on a pushpin and will not shatter if dropped, making it easy to hang on just a pushpin and safe anywhere in your house.
5. Amazing magnetic bookmark – Keep your place with this unique bookmark. My hummingbird image sandwiches the page of your book, holding steadfast even if your book is moved, using magnets hidden inside. These bookmarks make an affordable and functional gift for anyone, and can slip right into a birthday or holiday card. Show your appreciation of reading and make a mark with this artistic memento!