I’ve always loved hummingbirds, yet I couldn’t seem to attract them to my yard. Almost every other bird on the face of the planet has made its way to our bird feeders – except the one bird I was trying to entice. I was determined to figure out how to get them to visit.
I began researching plants that promised hummingbirds would come to my yard in droves. In other people’s experience, it might have worked; but my lawn was bereft of birds. Swarms of bees, however, saw them as a welcoming beacon. Adding to the problem, my neighbor is a bee keeper; my flowers became their main food source. Knowing that bees are beneficial, I didn’t mind them too much.
That was until they began to spend their entire day hanging out hosting bee parties, inviting all their friends to swim in the pond; in general making sitting out on the porch virtually unbearable.
Wasps and other less desirable insects soon found my feeding grounds, and began to build their homes all over my yard. Before long, I was hosting a new housing development for stinging bugs of all types. If hummingbirds were attracted to my flowers, they were soon run out by all the wasps and bees that’d put up signs, claiming my lawn as their exclusive community.
The following year, I bought a hummingbird feeder. I hung it up, and waited with bated breath for all the tiny birds to show up. Turns out, bees, wasps and yellow jackets also like hummingbird feeders - a whole big lot. In addition to the flowers and the pond, I’d unwittingly added a fast food drive through to what had become their private, members’ only country club.
We had to remove the feeder as it was at the door, allowing unwelcome winged houseguests. It was a difficult task, as it was usually covered with stinging insects. I donned large oven mitts, a rain poncho, and a wide-brimmed hat with cheesecloth draped over it (not being a bee keeper, it was the best protection I could come up with). I managed to grab the feeder, but not without disturbing the wasps that were covering it. They quickly organized and began a demonstration to let me know that I was messing with their favorite restaurant. Nervously clutching my makeshift beekeeper’s veil, I ran to the edge of the yard and flung the feeder behind the garage. I ran back to the house, with angry protestors chasing me, buzzing loudly in what I imagine were unkind words in their little bee language.
The next year, I decided to go with plants - no feeder. After a few weeks, I was rewarded with a hummingbird. Hoping that he would tell his (or her) elfin friends about my yard, I worked even harder on the flower beds. It could have been 110 degrees outside, but I’d be out there pulling weeds and keeping the beds watered. I even invested in top of the line fertilizer to ensure that my miniscule feathered friend would keep coming back, and hopefully broadcast it to his circle of friends and family. Unfortunately, the little guy must have wanted to keep it to himself, as he never brought company.
I tried to take a photograph of my prize visitor, but it seemed that every time I grabbed the camera, he’d get camera shy and fly away. One day, though, I got lucky. I saw him, and grabbed my video camera. I managed to get a full minute of him flitting from flower to flower.
Knowing that my late father-in-law, Normie, had tried unsuccessfully to attract hummingbirds to his garden, we took the footage over for the family to see. They all “oohed” and “ahhed,” congratulating me on my success. I was thrilled and soaked up the accolades.
It’s good to be Queen.
Then, Normie looked closer at the screen. After pausing the tape several times, he began to laugh. I wanted to know what could possibly be so funny. In between fits of laughter and outright guffaws, he explained. The garden I’d spent so much work and money to tend, where I’d spent hours of time sweating like Homer Simpson in a doughnut shop, had attracted a hummingbird . . . moth.
Yup, I’d doted on an insect called hemaris, or, a clear wing moth. Hummingbirds don’t tend to have six legs and bisected bodies or antennae.
That was the last straw; my days of courting hummingbirds were over.
Until this year. For some reason, Matt bought a feeder, put it up, but we didn’t pay much attention to it. Years of failure didn’t instill any hope for success.
Then, without the hard work, money and constant vigilance, a hummingbird came upon the bright red feeder. Soon, our little feeder became the “it” place for all the hummingbirds in the area (and yes, I’m sure they’re birds). Not only that, but they have absolutely no fear of me, and will fly right up to me when I’m out there. One even came to the window while I was working and watched me.
Without lifting a finger, I went from being the Evil Queen to Snow freakin’ White.
Honestly, though, I don’t care why they’re here; I’m just glad they are. They flit around and make the funniest noises when they’re playing. They go from the flowers to the feeder, they chase each other, but best of all, they don’t mind us watching. We anxiously await their arrival at dinner time every night. Whoops, speaking of dinner, it’s time to refill the feeder.
Like the song goes, Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, it’s off to work I go!
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