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Goodbye Big Bird, Hello tiny birds

By Paul Viau | Mar 29, 2017
Photo by: File photo TIME TO PUT OUT YOUR FEEDERS — Any day now, the ruby-throated hummingbirds will be back in our area. Be ready for another, action-packed season.

It’s the start of the birdwatching season, and there’s some good news and some bad news.

For reasons unknown, we always start with the bad news, don’t we? Well here it is:

If the president’s new budget passes without change, we may be saying goodbye to Sesame Street and its many, happy-go-lucky characters, including the larger-than-life, ‘Big Bird’ — fine feathered friend of children everywhere.

Our two sons grew up watching Sesame Street, and generations have followed. I could go on and on about this situation. — “Sad” — But at this is the time of year, there is other birding news that demands action.

According to reports posted on the North Carolina Hummingbirds Facebook page, ruby-throated hummingbird scouts have already been sighted in Western North Carolina.

Soon — and very soon — this advanced party of scouts will be combing the mountains, looking for good nesting sites.

What are the hummingbird scouts looking for? First and foremost on their bird brains is a good source of food. In this regard, the male hummingbird scouts are ‘seeing red.’ No, they’re not angry — not at all. They’re hungry after a long journey and looking ahead to when they’ll have hungry mouths to feed.

Did you know? Now is the time to unpack your hummingbird feeders and load them with a fresh batch of homemade hummingbird nectar.

The recommended formula for hummingbird nectar is 4:1 water and sugar.

Making the nectar couldn’t be easier. Just heat one quart of water on the stove or in the microwave. When the water is warm enough, add 1 cup granulated sugar per quart, mix and let the solution cool.

The water doesn’t have to be boiling for the sugar to dissolve, and be sure to let the ‘nectar’ cool completely before moving feeders outdoors.

Oh yes, and don’t bother with red dye — it’s not necessary.

Most hummingbird feeders are plenty red enough to attract hummingbirds. Beyond that, it’s the sweetness that will seal the deal with the hummingbird scouts.

As I am writing this column, my Carol is right in the middle of loading the nectar in our five hummingbird feeders. Yes, there’s no waiting for a feeding station at Villa Viau — so long as you are a hummingbird.

My wife has another trick to further attract hummingbirds. As an Indiana University graduate, she has a compliment of bright red T-shirts and sweatshirts that she often wears while deck sitting. And Carol’s hair has a noticeable touch of red.

Yes, she’s clearly pulling out all the stops. And I’m supporting her 5,000 percent.

Sitting out on our deck enjoying the cool air and our mountain view is a wonderful thing. Add to that ‘perfect picture’ a number of dodging and darting ruby red throat hummingbirds visiting our feeders, and we can smile and say, “Western North Carolina — This is heaven.”

For up-to-date tracking and information on the hummingbird migration, ‘like’ North Carolina Hummingbirds on Facebook.

Finally, don’t forget to feed the other birds year ‘round. We put out both black-oil sunflower seeds (a favorite of all birds) to a nut and seed mix that is particularly successful attracting a variety of nutcrackers.

We have good luck attracting birds because we use good seed and good feeders. Our favorite supplier is Pleasant Places, 36 N. Main St., in Waynesville.

Pleasant Places has a wide variety of bird feeders — for both hummingbirds and other bird varieties. I’m a big fan of their not-so-friendly-to-squirrel birdfeeders — the squirrels, not so much.

Pleasant Places is a great place to get gift ideas for gardeners and bird enthusiasts of all ages.

Happy hummingbird watching!

This year, I’m going to see if they’ll drink some beer. (Just kidding!)