Barefoot by the Sea: Bring on the hummingbirds, butterflies and a recipe!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bring on the hummingbirds, butterflies and a recipe!

So hard to believe it's almost know what that means?  6 months from mid-December!  Ugh.  We are in full Summer swing around here and the weather has been absolutely amazing.  It's Summers like these that make us really appreciate all that the Northeast has to offer.  The flowers are beautifully blooming, the butterflies are out and about....and the hummingbirds!  We've been spotting the little gals and guys all around, especially this past week.  We have a lovely butterfly bush that attracts them, as well as zinnias, bee balm, lantana, day lilies, lavender and black eyed susans.  

The girls pointed out that our back deck (full of shade) lacks the color that our front does.  Fearing they might not be able to see butterflies and hummingbirds while dining alfresco, they got right to work...
    In nature, hummingbirds eat flower nectar for energy and bugs for protein.  Flower nectar is 21% to 23% sucrose - regular table sugar - so it is very easy and inexpensive to make.  Here is the recipe for making hummingbird nectar:
  1. Mix 4 parts water to 1 part table sugar in a pan.  
  2. Bring to a boil then remove from the heat.  Stir it while it is heating until all of the sugar is dissolved.  Don't boil it for long because that will change the ratio as water is boiled off.  The reason for boiling is not to make syrup, but to drive out the chlorine in the water and to kill mold or yeast spores that might be in the sugar.  
  3. Cover and allow to cool before using or pouring into the storage bottle.  We recommend making a large batch of nectar and storing it.  This makes refilling the feeder so easy that you won't mind doing it every few days.
Then....I got to work and figured out a way to hang the feeder above our mint, which supposedly also attracts the little guys.  I placed it in a spot where we could watch the action from inside or out. 

You may notice that my hummingbird food is red....and that is NOT GOOD FOR THEM!  This, my friends...was realized, after we made the nectar, took the pictures, etc.  SO!  Make sure you just use sugar and water and forgo any food coloring since it isn't good for the little guys.  We successfully made a new batch and some back-up food for the refrigerator.  

As you can imagine, the thought of harming a tiny, fragile hummingbird was a horror to my nature loving girls!  Needless to say, it was a little extra work but well worth the smiles on their faces in the end!  

Next up, I want to plant some coneflowers...because I love the way they look.  What flowers do you plant to attract them? 


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