by PAULINE TOM
No need to take down your hummingbird feeders in the winter. In fact, please don’t. Just keep the syrup fresh, changing it once or twice a week.
Cindy Rector on Juniper tidbitted last week, “My experiment with leaving a hummingbird feeder out for stragglers has been rewarded. This morning I opened the window blinds to see a cold hummer perched on my feeder with her feathers at maximum fluff. Once the air warmed she flew to a nearby oak tree.”
If Cindy’s hummer is a female Rufous, she just recently arrived from the Northwest and may stay for the winter (while most of our summering hummingbirds are headed to Central America). It’s especially on freezing days that the Rufous Hummingbird visits feeders here.
Over the years, with more and more Mountain Citians keeping feeders out all year, it seems more and more Rufous Hummingbirds winter here. Some years our little city that’s still somewhat out in the country has hosted Calliopes, Buff-bellieds and other good finds.
The formula for hummingbird syrup is one part white sugar to four parts water. Boil and cool. Pour into a hummingbird feeder.
Nectar producing plants also provide an energy source for hummers.
Hummingbirds require protein, which they get from eating insects and spiders. Native plants and trees attract more insects and spiders than exotics.
But, not only hummingbirds require insects as food. The Eastern Bluebird is another bird that eats mostly insects.
Last week, four bluebirds perched on the utility wires that run parallel to FM 2770, beside City Hall. Others did not pull over to take in the beauty.
The work of a few in Mountain City (including the Polks, the Garrisons and the Toms) produces a few more bluebirds each year. A few of those make it through their first nesting season. In late winter, the first-year bluebirds find a mate and look for a cavity, in order to nest.
Since most snags come down before woodpeckers can create cavities, “bluebird” nestboxes go up to provide the missing element in otherwise well-suited habitat. (Nestboxes do not begin to replace the priceless resources for wildlife destroyed when humans remove a dead tree.) These nestboxes also provide an artificial woodpecker cavity for other native species including Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Bewick’s Wren, Carolina Wren and (hurray! in the 2012 nesting season) Ash-throated Flycatcher.
A nestbox will not guarantee an Eastern Bluebird. But, no nestbox will guarantee no bluebird (unless you have another cavity suitable for nesting).
For more information visit www.texasbluebirdsociety.org.
Mark Klym, who coordinates the Texas Parks & Wildlife Hummingbird Round-up and Texas Wildscapes, will speak at the bluebird organization’s 2013 Season Kickoff in Kerrville on Feb. 9.
A new nestbox distributor from Bastrop came by to pick up nestboxes last week, and the 2012 black fawn (very rare) stood out in a herd of other white-tails in Lynn Cobb’s backyard.
I hate it when tidbits are rare. They are needed, in order to build “Montage” each week. Please keep me posted. (512) 268-5678 or firstname.lastname@example.org.