The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

A Bird In The Hand: Hmmm

by db Conard - The Quill

Bringing a living jewel to your hand

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds are familiar to most of the people in this part of the country.

We all see these jewel like birds on a regular basis. If there is nectar of any kind these birds seem to find it.

Their sound comes from a unique wing structure and the way the Hummingbird beats its wing in a figure eight pattern. The Hummingbird and the Swift are the only birds with these special wings which enables them acrobatic abilities capable of amazing maneuvers.

Very few people ever get the chance to have one of these small jewels on their finger, but it's easier than you might think.

It's such a light touch on your finger, but one you will never forget.

With just a little patience and a desire to tame it to come to your hand, it will not take more than a few days at most and sometimes less than an hour to entice one of these smallest of flyers to your hand.

The first time you coax one of these unique birds to your finger your whole perspective of these neighbors will change. It becomes personal when any wild animal overcomes its fear and gives you its trust to the extent it touches you.

With the Humming Bird, the best way to do this is by purchasing three inexpensive Humming Bird feeders that are small enough to hold in your hand.

For the nectar, add 4 parts of boiling water to 1 part sugar and stir until dissolved. Clear color is fine, the red feeders will attract them.

Hang each of the feeders in an area that is easily accessible and hang them out of sight of one another:.. one in the front yard, one in the side yard, and one in the back.

When you attract more than one bird it reduces the fights over the nectar and also gives you a way to manipulate the birds to the one feeder as you start to work with them.

After establishing a population of Humming Birds, take two of the feeders down, this funnels the birds to the sole feeder that is left and where you will begin to teach them to trust you.

The single feeder pushes them through some of their hesitancy due to first, the loss of two food sources and second, they must be even more competitive with each other for the nectar.

Sit or stand quietly as close to the feeder as you can without touching it. They will come to the feeder and their first reaction is to fly away from you.

Continue standing or sitting and they will return closer each time to the point that they will start to feed in spite of your presence.

They will retreat between feedings for an average of 5 to 7 minutes before returning.

After they have gotten comfortable with your presence, now is the time for you to transfer the feeder to your open hand presenting the feeder port to them.

It will generally take the same amount of time for them to get use to coming to the held feeder as it did to get use to your initial presence.

As you constantly build their trust, the birds will feed comfortably with it held in your hand.

The exciting step is the final one, where you hold the feeder in the hand with your finger tip positioned to serve as a perch as they feed from the port.

They will be hesitant to begin with, and this is where you will first feel the wind from their wings as they hover over your hand.

As they gain trust that you are not there to harm them, you will eventually feel the sensation of two tiny feet settling on your finger tip as they feed.

The final step is when they land on your finger and you react by gently trying to shake them off which makes them want to cling and stay.

After not too many more of those landings, the birds become relaxed and will comfortably perch on your finger and continue feeding wherever you might sit or stand with their food source.

They won't become your friend, but they no longer perceive you as an enemy and their mere closeness will amaze you.

They also seem to seek refuge on your finger from more aggressive birds who are less of a bully when it comes to attacking the feeding bird in the giants hand.

(It is important that you put the other two feeders back up when you are finished with your training sessions.)

Humming birds are particularly defensive of food sources. The three feeders result in more chasing and less fighting

On a side note, it is hard to imagine the incredible endurance that these smallest of migrating birds demonstrate on their annual migration both to and from Central America.

The distance these fliers travel across the Gulf of Mexico is over 500 miles each way, and that"s just crossing the water.

They continue over land, and can fly as far north as Canada, an additional 1500 miles each way.