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"I Ain't Drunk, I'm Just Drinking" - Albert Collins
Last Post 10/17/2016 12:23 PM by 79 pmooney. 6 Replies.
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79pmooney

Posts:1759

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10/13/2016 03:54 PM
The song the great blues guitarist, Albert Colins wrote for my hummingbirds. I filled my three feeders yesterday morning. One feeder they haven't touched. One is down 5/8". And the one in front of my study window is down 2". (They are upside down test tube like vials. Full, they contain 4" of sugar water. 1 1/4" ID. So that's over 3 cubic inches of sugar water mixed 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. So much sugar I have to bring the water close to a boil to dissolve it. 1 3/4 fluid ounces so close to 1/2 a dry ounce of granulated sugar or 0.4 ounces by weight = 11 grams.

I have (I believe) between 2 and 4 hummingbirds. (From the house I rarely get to see their trademark colors, usually just seeing them back-lit. One is very distinctive in both size and behavior. He's very much here. (The neighborhood alpha, a big male Anna's. I"m guessing the Rufuses (I'm thinking two) are eating like starved bears to get ready to fly back to SoCal or Mexico. (I wish I could get my hummers to wear nametags but that hasn't happened yet.) So, say I have 4. Over ~14 hours these four have eaten 1/3 their body weight in sugar. (3 grams is the best consensus figure I have seen for hummer weights.) And that is without feeding anywhere else, not likely as they seem to have done just fine for the day I got behind and let the feeders go empty.

And back to the title and drinking. 4 parts water to that one part (gram) of sugar. Or 133% of body weight a day. Serious drinking! (But not as serious as they wil get over the really cold days this winter. Then just two drink more.)

Ben
Spud

Posts:482

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10/14/2016 11:55 AM
If I don't bring my feeders in at night, the bats (brown bats) drain them during the night. I'm actually thinking about setting up my camera with motion sensor mounted, and see what I get for photos. Here is a video I shot from a few years back. We were out hiking, and came up on a banding that they were doing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cAll6W_xCQ&feature=share
79pmooney

Posts:1759

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10/14/2016 02:09 PM
I wonder if I have bats. If so, cool! That could explain some things. Do bats hoover? My feeders do not have perches so it would seem to me they couldn't get much unless they did.

I like the video! I have held a hummer, but sadly, it was dead. A beautiful male Anna's. In perfect condition in a bike lane. About the size of the one here which was 3.3 grams (including the mesh it was wrapped in). Do you know what kind of hummer that was in the video? It looked kinda Rufus-like but I never get a chance for great views of my Rufi. The're a bit skittish.

Ben
Spud

Posts:482

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10/17/2016 08:46 AM
The bats actually work in tandem. One will fly by and knock the feeder so that nectar spills out, while another will fly by to catch the spilling nectar. Here is another video from a few years back at my place, during the migration.

https://youtu.be/FwCQaG-HEk0
79pmooney

Posts:1759

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10/17/2016 11:45 AM
The known sources of hummer food loss in my feeders are ants and yellow jackets. Good thing is there are stops to both that do not harm either, just leave them disappointed. Moats, cups filled with water that have a stem rising from the center to hang them from and a hook underneath to hang the feeder from. (this time of year, I have t o watch for leave "bridges". Yellow jackets get stopped by yellow mesh plastic cages that fit over the nozzles. Long beaks are required to through past the cages.

The ants can drain the feeders fast. Yellow jackets don't drink much but the feeders they like are shunned by the hummers, there or not.

I have never seen the migrators, just the small number that finish their journey here. Maybe I need bigger feeders; that the word is out "Ben only has three feeders, one nozzle each". I've tried larger feeders with no observed luck, just noticed they were a lot harder to keep up to good hummer standards of cleanliness. (The "test tube" routine is really easy. 8 oz of prepared sugar water fills three exactly so one 16 oz vanilla extract bottle covers me for ~1 1/2 weeks. When empty, I make enough to fill 4 bottles and my three feeders. I have six feeders. Changing takes one trip around the house, and cleaning the feeders after my next meal.

Ben
Dale

Posts:953

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10/17/2016 11:49 AM
Speakin' of bats. I put up a bat house and it sat vacant for a few years before they moved in.
After that the mosquito population vanished from my property.
The humming bird feeders I put out were for entertainment, the bat house was for protection.
79pmooney

Posts:1759

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10/17/2016 12:23 PM
Dale, I used to watch the show by the bats every 4th of July at the Waterfront Blues Festival. Thousands of people eating food for 4 days attracts a lot of insects. First the swifts and sometimes swallows. (WWI fighters.) Mid afternoon the dragonflies would arrive. (The insect version of attack helicopters.) At dusk, they would disappear and the bats arrived. They were less intimidated by us and would do a lot of their work at low altitudes, but between the darkness and the alcohol, not very many noticed them. We also in recent years have been observed by an osprey. (A bird I never saw in my childhood despite the New England coast being right in the center of their east coast run. DDT.)

I never stopped to think about bat hearing and the noise level at the Festival. Did they time their visits between sets? Or is the important range of their hearing completely out of the range of our musical instruments and/or amplification? Maybe I will have to go next year and take better notes. Sadly, as the Festival crowd grows, I age and the mix becomes less fun so I am making no promises re: bat research.

Edit: My dad taught us by both word and example not to kill spiders; that if you didn;t like its location, you put it outside. I grew up surrounded by what we called then, swamps. (They have now grown in importance and status to "wetland". We knew back then the swamps had salamanders, frogs, tadpoles and were a banquet for a lot of animals.) So we had mosquitoes. New England variety with a bite that left a multi-day, itchy welt, like a very local poison ivy.. (These west-coasters are a joke. I often don't feel the bite or notice the welt.) Spiders were our friends. But sadly, they are not aerial mosquito terrors.

Ben
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