Agriculture

“Build It and They Will Come!” – Say the Hummingbirds of San Benito County.

Column by San Juan Resident Don Rookaird

 

 

 

Create a hummingbird flyway and nectar station you can see and enjoy.

On the old Circle T Ranch, my grandmother would bring out a quart jar full of buttons. We would spread them on the rug, in front of the fire.

I was very young, just out of the button-eating stage and considered these buttons in the league with "Pick-Up Sticks" and "Tiddly-Winks". Among the hundreds of buttons was a delicately painted, ivory hummingbird button. It was too big to eat, my favorite button, and was the most prized piece in any sizzling game of "Button, button, whose got the button?" 

That was my first introduction to the hummingbird. Now, seven decades later, the hummingbird has re-appeared in my life with the same joy, energy and wonder that that simple button stirred in me years ago, just by creating the simplest flyway and nectar bar on my deck.

Director and producer, Kevin Costner, myself and the hummingbirds of San Benito County say "Build it and they will come". Keep it simple.

Put out three feeders close enough so that you can see them through the windows and sit with them outside. Once a bird finds you, he will bring his friends, just like it happened at my Hummingbird Happy Hour. "Birds of a feather flock together". They enjoy each others company.

Anywhere from twenty to sixty birds join me on the deck everyday while I read and listen to music. Hang out with the hummingbirds and much more will be revealed by the birds themselves. Hummingbirds thrive in this county.

When I travel, I don't feed them…..but they still thrive naturally….and return when I throw open the doors. They are not my pets, I don't have to walk them and I don't have to carry a bag to clean-up after them.

Again, keep it simple. A 32 oz feeder can cost as little as $6. Little ones go for a dollar. Find feeders that do not leak. Hold off on designer feeders. Use water to cleanup stickyness, no soap. Use pure cane sugar, don't waste money on commercial nectar. Don't be concerned about bees and wasps, they are manageable. Arrange your feeders so that you and the birds can see each other. Hummingbirds also love flower nectar, some plants more than others. As you discover the feeders are working, green-thumbers might want to embellish their gardens with hummingbird flower favorites.  

Check out "Hummingbirds" on Google, Twitter and Facebook, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Every life needs a bright spot, for the children, for the old folks, and for us involved in the everyday grind.

Build it and they will come; you might just create your own "Field of Dreams" in your own backyard. By-the-way, hummingbirds eat more than 3 times their weight a day, and can die within 48 hours if they don't. They cannot over-eat, their metabolism rate is very fast. They use that nectar energy in a days activity. They get their protien from catching small insects on the fly. Most birds live about three and a half years. The oldest hummer recorded lived 8 years. There are 338 species of hummingbirds in North and South America and their islands, but no hummers in Hawaii.

The little females can produce as many as three clutches of two eggs each, in a season. Like humans, they are happiest when well fed and loved.

Help them thrive and make this county their favorite home.

Capt. Don

Reader, writer, character actor, humming birder and landlubber. USCG ocean master. Riverboats, Vietnam '68-'69, San Jose State.