Did you know?

The early bird gets the hummers

By Paul Viau | Mar 30, 2016
Photo by: File photo LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT — Every spring, we look forward to our first hummingbird sighting. Get your feeders out ASAP

This Friday is April 1, commonly referred to as, “April Fools Day.” It used to be the day I childishly pranked everyone I could. Now, it’s a day that is both: (1) a warning that tax day is just two weeks away; and (2) a day of anticipation — time to put out the hummingbird feeders.

Conventional wisdom in the birding community is to have your hummingbird feeders out no later than April 15, to attract the early scouts. But this year (as you may have noticed) everything is happening early — especially ‘round these parts. I’m guessing that the hummingbirds might be coming early, too.

Did you know? — Hummingbirds send out scouts ahead of their group to find the best nesting and feeding areas, and you can catch their attention by providing: (1) food — clean hummingbird feeders with open-throated, bright red flowers and plenty of nectar; (2) nesting materials — anything from cotton batting to pet hair; and (3) a cold shower — a little mist of water for the hummers to fly through.

In simple terms, you need to make your house one of the most “pleasant places” for the hummingbirds to hang out.

That’s a not-so-subtle hint and my tip of the day — to attract the best birds, hummers included, visit Pleasant Places, 36 N. Main St., in historic downtown Waynesville.

Pleasant Places is my favorite kind of store — local. Owners Liz and Leon Russell will be celebrating the shop’s 4th anniversary June 15.

In just a short time, this couple (and their very pleasant store) have attracted a “charm” of loyal customers. BTW, a group of finches or hummingbirds is called a “charm.” And in a sense, the Russells have “charmed” the community with quality birding supplies, including a variety of decorative garden and patio accessories.

To a person, their customers will tell you, “It pays to spend a little more on good feeders and better birdseed.”

At Pleasant Places you’ll find Cole’s wild bird feed and bird treats. Cole’s is located in nearby Kennesaw, Georgia, and is famous for its quality.

Cole’s says it all with the catch phrase, “If you want bird seed, buy any brand. If you want birds, buy Cole’s.”

I take that a step further. If you want weeds and varmints, buy bird seed from a big box store. Birds are smart. They quickly sort through and discard filler and unwanted seeds in search of their favorites.

Quality feeders make a difference, too. Pleasant Places features Brome squirrel-proof feeders and Droll Yankees Feeders — which are made in America and carry a lifetime guarantee.

That really resonates with me, because my wife and I have that same kind of commitment — to one another and to our love of bird watching.

Getting back to the hummingbirds, Pleasant Places is carrying a new hummingbird feeder this year that experts consider the, “Best hummingbird feeder — Ever.”  — the Dr. JB’s 16-oz. Clean Feeder.

This feeder features a wide-mouth glass jar for mess-free filling and easy cleaning. The two-piece base features a baffle that prevents spilling hummingbird nectar as it sways in the wind and comes apart for easy cleaning. All of the components of the Dr. JB’s hummingbird feeder are dishwasher safe, and from my experience, the cleaner your hummingbird feeders are, the more hummingbirds you will attract.

Another neat feature of the Dr. JB’s hummingbird feeder are interchangeable flower petals that attract the hummingbirds’ attention. You can choose from red, yellow, blue or purple to match other flowers in your garden — or stick with the traditional red.

My wife, Carol, believes in making her own hummingbird nectar. The standard recipe (from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center) is one part sugar and four parts water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cool. Bringing it to a boil kills bacteria and mold present. Oh yes, common wisdom is that you don’t need to add red dye.

So my birding tip of the year is to visit Pleasant Places in downtown Waynesville. Tell them, “Paul sent me,” and hope they don’t throw you out. Call Pleasant Places at 828-456-4974.



Comments (2)
Posted by: Paul Viau | Mar 30, 2016 08:11

A little bird (a Pleasant Places customer) told me hummingbirds were sighted last week in the Florida Panhandle.

Posted by: Ginger Kuehn Lang | Mar 31, 2016 06:30

Great article, Paul. Thanks for the info on the new feeder at Pleasant Places and for reminding folks to leave out the red dye.

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