This is always a happy time of year for me, when the hummingbirds return from their winter respite. Hah, some respite. These formidable little birds fly more than one-thousand miles in the spring and fall every year. Some travel more than 300 miles in a day. I figure, the least I can do is reward their long journey with a little sweet nectar upon their return.
I've been feeding the hummers every year for the 16 years we've lived here.
Interestingly, my first hummingbird encounter was "in the wild" when I lived in Illinois. I was photographing nature scenes for an assignment in Kankakee County many years ago. This particular area along the Kankakee River was a lovely prairie remnant with spectacular patches of cardinal flowers, asters, grasses and more. Hummingbirds were thick as they buzzed about, pausing to partake of every flower and then scurrying off to the next. I wish I could harness that kind of energy.
I had never seen anything like it before. It was like stepping back in time to a pre-settlement era. The beauty and diversity of the prairie plants, some as tall as me, hosted a plethora little winged creatures. In addition to the hummingbirds, there were several varieties of butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies, and bumblebees to name a few.
The only other time I'd seen a hummingbird, was simply a close encounter. If I had not been looking in the right direction at the right time, I would have missed it. A hummer was visiting my neighbor's butterfly bush. I'm sure it returned, but I had only seen it once.
When my husband and I vacationed in Arkansas, I was amazed at the wildlife, colorful birds, and hummingbirds "in the wild."
When we finally moved here, to our little house in the woods, one of the first things I did was buy a hummingbird feeder. I have several now, both in the front and on the deck. No matter how much sugar I have to buy or cleaning necessary, it is worth it. I love these little harbingers of springtime.