Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Hummingbird Showers and LA Parrots

Did you know hummingbirds prefer showers to sit-down baths? This is not something I have thought about. Ever. But I learned this as I was watering plants at a friends house the other day. I was in their backyard, giving all their potted plants a drink (the friends are on holiday) and this hummingbird kept coming over to check me out. I wasn't sure if it was a territorial thing or if it was attracted to my visor (which has brightly colored flowers on it) or if Timmy had fallen down a well and only the bird knew about it. Soon I figured out she was after the water and began to dance around in it. I held the hose steady and she darted in and out, up and down and got a bit soaked, then flew up to a wire to lather up then came back down for a rinse.

I didn't have my camera with me (dang it!) but thanks to Flickr and to photographer Pisco Bandito specifically, you can see a bit of what I saw:

I was mesmerized by the little beauty. They seem to have no fear for such a tiny creature. We need to put our hummingbird feeder back up.

This morning while blogging about hummingbirds and having coffee, I heard some loud squaking and realized it was a wild parrot. I looked out my window and saw these two dudes hanging our for a minute:

(Check out the little bird about to land in the middle -- click the picutre for bigger image.)
Close up:

They looked like they were on their way somewhere but were having a fight because they never sat any closer to each other.
"Why can't we get pancakes?"
"We got pancakes last time, I would like an omelette for once."
"You are so selfish!"
"Me? You're the one who woke me up early to go out and said I could pick the place!"

Okay, maybe they weren't arguing over pancakes. What would parrots argue about? This article about the Amazon Parrot in LA says that parrots mate for life, so that could have actually been a couple, out for breakfast...

Someday in the not too distant future, I will have a new camera with a longer lens......can't wait!

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Excellent encounters! Though I would recommend not putting out a hummingbird feeder unless you're going to be adamant and determined in keeping it regularly cleaned and refilled through October.

Here's the routine one hummingbird fan I found goes through:

"A mandatory responsibility that comes with the enjoyment feeders bring is maintaining their cleanliness and supplying fresh solution. They must be cleaned thoroughly with hot, soapy water and then rinsed with boiling hot water at least once a week, and more frequently (every two to three days) during the extreme heat of summer. Then refill with fresh solution, even if birds are not diminishing the supply. Otherwise, old solution ferments and could even be harmful once it turns into alcohol. Early in the spring when feeder activity is low, I only put an inch or so of solution in each feeder. Actually the only time I fill feeders to the top is during heavy use, from late June to early September."

Yikes, but that's a lotta work for a little bird!
You make a very good point, Will, thank you. Maybe it will be easier to find plants hummingbirds love and cultivate those.
Thanks, Julia, for watering our plants. I often send up a spray of water for the hummingbirds that flit around our backyard. Last year I discovered that butterflies too like light showers. The kids and I spritzed some Monarchs for about 15 minutes, watching them land once in a while and lap up little drops. We usually have a hummingbird feeder (broken now -- long story) and it is a lot of work to maintain, but it's a joy. That coupled with our hummingbird-friendly plants keeps them happy most of the year. You don't have to fill it to the top (as suggested above), but you do have to keep it nice and clean.

By the way, about 6 every evening the parrots land in the magnolia tree in front of our neighbors house and very noisily eat the flowers, sending the rejects crashing violently to the ground.
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