Friday, September 26, 2008

The Hummingbird Feeder...

I wanted to tell you about my hummingbird feeder. It's nothing fancy...just a small four position feeder made from plastic with little perches in front of tiny fake yellow flowers.

It hangs on the outside edge of my patio from an old rusty nail where the red, sweet liquid can be seen in the long glass bottle. The red nectar acts like a neon sign at a diner, saying "Open For Business". On an average day, the traffic starts fairly early and continues off and on until just about dark as the wonderfully colorful hummingbirds stop and stock up on a little shot of energy.

The day before the hurricane came through here, the wind began picking up and the rain started pretty early in the day. Still, the hummingbirds came by for their daily sugar boost, ignoring the hefty breeze and falling rain. This is not optional for them, as they are storing up fuel for their migratory flight south for the winter months.

We started moving plants inside, securing lawn furniture, taping windows, removing the hanging baskets and in general battening down the hatches so to speak in order to prepare for the fury that we knew was coming. Finally, everything was moved except for the feeder, which was still serving as a feeding station to several birds. I decided to wait for a while to move it...

As the afternoon wore on and the sky darkened, the wind began to show it's intent more and more, making a growling sound as it steadily blew across wires and through trees. It rocked the tree branches, rattled the siding and carport roofs and in general starting flexing it's muscles, while issuing this final warning that the Storm was coming on full blast!

In this prelude to disaster, the little plastic hummingbird feeder hanging from a rusty nail just swung gently back and forth as if to say "I can't go yet...the birds are still coming". Sure enough, one showed up, landed on a small plastic perch and began to feed while hanging on for dear life. I left the feeder hanging there and hoped for the best.

By midnight the hurricane was almost in full force. The winds came through around 1:00am at 80 to 100 MPH. Fences were blown down like playing cards. Large branches were ripped from trees and thrown all around like a giant choosing toothpicks. Carport roofs were torn away as easily as popping the top on a soft drink can. Some siding was blown off as easily as tearing the cardboard on a cereal box. I tried to open my door to the patio, but because of the suction created by the wind it would not open at all.

As I went to bed early Saturday morning with the Storm raging outside, I listened to the wind rattle the windows and drive the rain sideways into places that were not used to getting rained on. The power had long since gone out all over the area due to downed power lines and blown transformers that go out with the sound of a bomb going off in a war zone. Finally I managed to fall into a troubled and restless sleep, waking often as one thing or another slammed into my outside wall, then dozing back off.

The next morning the quiet hung gently in the air in sharp contrast to the night before as I stepped outside to survey the damage left behind. The sun was shining with a warm, friendly welcome, song birds could be heard as they heralded the coming of a new and better day, and in the midst of all the destruction and damage, the roses were still blooming on the bushes in the flower bed.

Then I saw it...the small little hummingbird feeder with the glass jar and plastic flowers. It was still hanging by it's slender wire from the old rusty nail as it offered up it's red, sweet nectar only slightly watered down from the rain. Proudly it seemed to call out "I'm still for business".

As I stared at it with unbelieving eyes, in flew a beautiful ruby-throated hummingbird, landing lightly on one of the little perches, and sticking his tongue deep inside the tiny yellow flower made from plastic began to drink his fill.

He knew that Nature would provide, that the food would be there, and never questioned for an instant that the small, plastic hummingbird feeder would be there hanging from it's rusty nail.

Such is the wisdom of Nature! about some fresh coffee, my friend?


meltcat said...

This is one of the most heartwarming and well-told accounts of the storm.
I remember you mentioning the feeder in one of your earliest posts after the storm, and thinking to myself that it was amazing that it had survived.
Thank you for sharing that.

Have a fabulous day, friend,

blondie said...

Morning Jim,
That was a wonderful story.
Hard to imagine what you really went through that night.
I'm just so glad that you, the rommies and the feeder came through with flying colors :)
Thanks for the coffee,

Lydia said...

Great story Jim, You should send it to your local paper. Am sure most people would love to read such a loving story amongst all the heartbreaking tragic stories that am certain fills your news these days. A good diversion for a short time.
have a good day

HermitJim said...

Hey Cat...thanks for the visit and for the comments. There is really just no way to fully explain how the storm sounds or to describe the damage one can do.

It is amazing that through it all, the feeder remained and is still serving up it's goodies.

hey Blondie...thanks for coming by. Going through a major storm like this is a good way to find religion again.

The roomies and I appreciate th kind words and much as the birds appreciate the feeder. One of the hardest parts was missing my friends for a week until I got Internet access again.

Thanks to both of you for dropping by and for the good wishes sent our way before and after the storm.

HermitJim said...

Hey Lydia...thanks fo stopping by today. I think we all here are trying to focus more on cleaning up and moving on...than to recall the fury of the storm that's past.

I do appreciate the suggestion and maybe this will become one of those stories that I can share as a memory at a reunion or get together' You know, the kind that always start with " I remember the storm of '08..."

Thanks for the visit...

danish said...

Hey Jim,
Great story. I really enjoy watching and identifying birds. HummingBirds are particular favourites. I keep two feeders active at our cottage, and one at home in Toronto,(Canada). Our cottage is 150 miles further north from here. Have had active feeders at the cottage for almost 20 years now and love to photograph the birds as they come to feed.
Anyway, you mentioned the red colour of the food and I wanted to mention this caution. If you are mixing your own food for them, please, please do not use red food colouring in it. It is not at all necessary to attract them and can be very damaging to their health. It will cause problems with developing fetuses, and can cause vision problems and even blindness.
A letter red colour in the plastic of the feeder is all the attractant that is necessary.
I mix one half cup of sugar into two cups of water and bring that to a roiling boil for 5 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it cool...put it in the feeder.

Love to send you a couple of my photos if your interested.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the typo.
I should have typed " A little red colour in the plastic....."


HermitJim said...

Hey Danish...the feeder itself is red at the base with a clear glass jar holding the nectar. The food I use is a commercial hummingbird food that has the red color already in it. It must be good because I see the same birds coming back over and over!

I would be glad to get the pics if you want to send them. You can use

Thanks again...

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