The seed bird feeders have been put away for the summer -- the free lunch is over and I am counting on my flying friends to eat the insects in my gardens and clean the seed heads.
And in their place are my hummingbird feeders.
I have never been fond of the ubiquitous red-and-yellow plastic models. But when I saw this pressed glass feeders, I thought I'd try to attract these little "flying jewels," a name given to them by Spanish explorers, to my garden.
Hummingbirds have an incredibly high metabolism and their appetite isn't satisfied with the nectar they find in the garden, so the brightly colored sugar water in feeders should bring some around.
I've learned some new things about my feeder, however.
It should be hung around flowers or a hanging planter. Tiny little feeders that can be tucked inside flower are also available, allowing you to have several sources of food because hummingbirds can be very territorial.
Unlike the seed feeders, hummingbird feeders need to be cleaned regularly -- at least once a week. Mold and bacteria growth in the nectar, as well as fermentation caused by yeasts can be harmful. And the sugar in the water often attracts ants, bees or wasps.
A hot water rinse usually does the trick, but you can rinse with a vinegar solution to give it a thorough cleaning.
How often to change the hummingbird nectar depends on the outside temperature. The hotter the temperature the more often it will have to be changed.
As a general rule, if the temperatures are cooler you can get by changing the nectar once a week. If the temperatures are in the 70s change every 5 or 6 days, if in the 80s change every 3 or 4 days, if in the 90's change every 1 or 2 days.