Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Challenge For The Hummingbirds

Early in May we always look forward to seeing the Hummingbirds return to our area.  They show up about the same time as the Baltimore Orioles.  I have seen videos showing hundreds of hummers attacking feeders with great enthusiasm.  We don't have that happen.  It would be an amazing sight to see.  Our hummingbirds seem to be very territorial.  They don't like each other very much.  We also have difficulties with our feeders.  The problem is raccoons and bees.  We have to position the feeders carefully or they get knocked to the ground.  Pieces get broken off and all the sugar water drains out or the raccoon drinks it.  If we put the feeders where the raccoons can't reach it, the bees take over.  The hummingbirds try but the bees usually win.  The bees either chase the hummers while drinking the sugar water, or they crawl into the feeder holes and drown contaminating the water.  When they die, they plug the holes of the feeders and need to be cleaned out almost everyday.  I refer to these flying insects as bees, but they are actually wasps or hornets.  I believe they are called Bald-faced hornets. They are not a true hornet, but they are part of the wasp family.   I believe these are the hornets/wasps responsible for making the beautiful paper nests we have on our property.  I wrote about the nests two years ago.

At this time of year, I usually give up on feeders.  Fortunately we have a lot of flowers that the hummingbirds love.  Since there are more choices for the birds, they don't fight as much.  Right now the birds are bulking up for their long trek south. Soon they will leave for the winter, but next May we will be excited to see them again.  I did get a suggestion from a blog reader.  He suggested I attach a brown lunch bag to the feeder.  The bag mimics a paper wasp nest and the wasps think they are in a territory already being occupied.  I tried this for the short time left in this hummingbird season.  It has somewhat worked.  I have a lot less wasps and the hummers have been feeding.  It may be that the weather is cooler and the wasps are less active, but I will definitely be trying this method next Spring.