You don’t feed hummers??
It's hard to believe, but I've heard that some people don't feed hummingbirds because they think it's bothersome to mix up the nectar and care for the feeders. I can promise you that it's really quick and easy and gives you great return on your investment. Use table sugar (sucrose), as it is chemically very similar to flower nectar and the most abundant sugar in the nectars of hummingbird flowers. And as a win/win, it's much more economical than buying prepared mixes.
Years ago I tested two commercial nectars against plain old table sugar and water. My testing was conducted like this: I hung two Little Flyer (LF-4) feeders side by side, one with a commercial mix and one with sugar water. Besides observing the feeders, it was easy enough to determine which one they preferred because of the nectar level. After a week, I switched the position of the feeders. I happened to be watching when a hummer landed on the feeder that had been sugar water but was now the commercial mix. She took one sip and backed off and went to the other feeder containing the sugar water. I only tested two mixes, but those observations in addition to the advice of hummingbird expert Sheri Williamson* convinced me that the best I can do for my hummers is also the best solution for my pocketbook.
To make the nectar: Boil a quart of water and add 1 cup of sugar and stir until dissolved. If you're lucky enough to have loads of hummers, then you'll need to increase your batch. When your mixture has cooled, fill your feeders and put the leftover into the fridge. It will keep up to two weeks. You can also make it without boiling the water, and when in a time crunch, that’s what I do.
Just remember to give your feeders a good cleaning every time you fill them. Dump them out and wash them if the nectar has been there for 5 days. Tiny bits of mold will grow in the sugar water in the heat and we don't want to give our hummers stomach aches. Using the Perfect Little Brush (PLB) included with each of our feeders to clean the ports lets you do a great job quickly. Then sit back and enjoy the magic!
*Sheri L. Williamson is the author of Attracting and Feeding Hummingbirds and A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North AmericaAnd as a win/win, it's much more economical than buying prepared mixes.
I know Spring is coming because the crocuses are blooming, in spite of the snow around them. And the birds are also telling me that it’s Spring. If you like feeding birds, you probably like having them in your yard and learning about them. Have you noticed any birds that are starting to build nests? This morning I watched a Mourning Dove with a twig in its mouth and sure enough, she tried to start a nest on the light shield over the door. Mourning Doves are notorious for building flimsy, poorly constructed nests and she soon decided that she needed a better support. If you’d like to learn more about nesting birds, you can become a certified Nestwatcher and record your observations. You’ll learn some helpful tips for finding nests and through your input, you’ll help scientists understand the impact of climate change, habitat degradation and loss, expansion of urban areas, and the introduction of non-native plants and animals. Visit http://nestwatch.org to get started.
Just feed birds,
Important Message from Betsy - to Our Retailers
You might have heard that Droll Yankees has developed both a Private Label product as well as a line of basic entry level feeders that bear the Droll Yankees name. These feeders were designed to attract a more diverse consumer through larger retailers. Many of you are now aware that Walmart is stocking some bird feeders that are labeled with the Droll Yankees brand name. This decision was made with great regard and concern for you and your business, and was not made lightly.
The initial impetus was a period of several months when very few orders came in and I had to cut our warehouse and production departments' hours. I recognize that many dedicated bird stores have gone out of business and our customer base has decreased. I had to consider the long term view and our ability to stay profitable, and the options available to me.
Feeding Birds Teaches Hard Lessons
Our first hummers were later than in other years, but only by a couple of days. They’re landing on their favorite branches and seem to be enjoying the feeders as much as we’re enjoying them. We think we recognize the ‘little’ female (aren’t they all little?) and the way they make themselves at home, they must surely be the old gang from last year. But there is one newbie who doesn’t know the rules. She attempted to share the LF with another female, who reacted tentatively about the breach in anti-social behavior. The lunch date was short lived, but ended civilly.
Despite our best intentions, we unwittingly created a bad situation for our bluebirds. The peanut feeder was still where it had been all winter, about 10 feet from the nest box, and on occasion a wily red squirrel would manage to scamper up the pole and grab a nut. We’d seen one of the pair of bluebirds swoop by the squirrel on its way to the next box, and had just thought it was interesting.
But one morning as I was getting ready for work, I glanced out the window to see the ‘red’ rocket up the pole to the feeder for breakfast. Almost immediately both mama and papa bluebird were on the attack, swooping in arcs, harassing the squirrel. Then there was just one bluebird swooping and I grabbed the window handle, yelling at the squirrel, fearing that the squirrel had gotten the bird. Then I saw papa bluebird drop to the ground beneath the squirrel. I dashed down the stairs yelling for Tom to come help, and we both ran to rescue our beloved bluebird.
He had indeed been bitten by the squirrel and died just minutes later. Although we had tried to provide a safe habitat for them to raise their young, instead we had welcomed a predator to a zone that they needed to defend. We had heavy hearts that day and will always carry that very hard lesson with us. We’re diligent with our mealworm feedings for mama, hoping that she’ll hatch her five eggs, but she spends a lot of time sitting on her favorite perch, watching and to our eyes, waiting for papa.
I’m reminded of the words I’ve spoken to customers before: that when we invite nature into our yards, we invite all of nature and it isn’t always what we think it will be.
Just feed birds,
Betsy Puckett, President
Feeding Gone Wild - A Backyard Birder's Secrets
This month, our Marketing Coordinator, Kate Peikin, had the good fortune to be in touch with a longtime Droll Yankees customer - Edgar D. of Far Hills, NJ. Edgar has a unique perspective on Droll Yankees bird feeders and accessories, because he has been using our products since the company was founded in 1969! So we are happy to share his thoughts and tips on feeding birds below. Enjoy!
Kate: You asked about a number of Droll Yankees' classic models, and referred to your "collection" of bird feeders. So I get the impression that you own quite a few feeders! How many feeders do you have in your yard, and how did it become a collection?
Edgar: My backyard birding adventure began with a Droll Yankees A-6F tube feeder and TH-3 thistle feeder hanging outside the family room window. The enjoyment of bringing a variety of birds never seen before right to my window became an addictive experience. Creating a habitat and feeding stations for birds became one of my garden priorities and as it turned out, a never-ending process of trail and error.
That humble offering eventually grew to a numerous collection of bird feeders (30 total) at four feeding stations in my backyard.
Kate: What is the biggest challenge when buying new bird feeding products, and what do you look for before purchasing anything for your yard?
Edgar: The biggest challenge when buying new bird feeding products is deciding what to buy from a numerous selection in stores and online shopping [outlets]. Before I buy anything I like to read customer reviews and check out manufacturer websites to learn more about the product.
Kate: How would you describe Droll Yankees' products?
Edgar: "When form follows function." Peter Kilham’s revolutionary design of the A-6 tube feeder in 1969 is carried on by the unique combination of design features in the A-6F Classic Bird Feeder that I admire so much: quality construction using die-cast metal parts and a thick clear polycarbonate feeder tube makes this bird feeder extremely durable. Squirrels chew on it. Black bears have taken it down off a tree, chewed on it, dragged and rolled it around on the ground. Fortunately I can feed birds all year-round: a pair of Black and Chocolate Labradors are happily on “bear busters” duty. My preference is the “Classic” tube feeder for the attractive retro look. Other Droll Yankees feeders such as the Onyx Clever Clean and Yankee Tipper are great examples of form follows function in a superior product using good design, excellent craftsmanship and durable materials. Add the Lifetime Warranty and "Made in the USA" and it is worth every penny of the cost, so one cannot go wrong.
Kate: You mentioned that the Jagunda was your favorite hopper feeder. What do you like about it? How long have you owned your Jagunda?
Edgar: The Jagunda is my favorite hopper feeder. I have owned this bird feeder for eight years and it has never been breached by squirrels. The seed tray is a simple design that doubles as the squirrel baffle. In the right location this feeder is absolutely squirrel proof. The hopper holds a large quantity of seed with ports that adjust to control the flow. This bird feeder is very easy to clean and add seed without a mess. To attract a variety of birds, I add a Droll Yankees TH Mini Thistle Feeder above the Jagunda with a Threaded Pole Adapter. The auger system allows easy movement to obtain the best location.
Kate: Do you own Droll Yankees feeders only, or have you tried any items from our Ultimate Pole System?
Edgar: Station four stated above is my mobile feeder group. Depending on the season and the blooms of the flower garden it can be located in the backyard or the front yard depending on which garden view I would like to enjoy with birds. For variety I can set up the pole system with a Water Dish, a Single Arm Mount and Hanger, and a Tipper in the rose garden at the front yard. The Tipper is a simple feeding station with an easy setup and no fuss.
Kate: What made you decide to turn your yard into a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation? What items have you provided for wildlife to make it inviting?
Edgar: I love nature and to have a Wildlife Habitat in my backyard certified through the National Wildlife Federation is my small contribution to protect wildlife for our children’s future. To make my backyard inviting to wildlife, bird food is certainly in abundance all year round. A birdbath and dripper in the summer and water heater in the winter are sources of water located adjacent to the bird feeding stations. To raise their young, my backyard provides a dovecote-style birdhouse with eight compartments. In addition, four bluebird houses are at the edge of the woods.
Kate: What Droll Yankees feeder would you recommend for someone who is just starting out feeding birds? For someone who is a more seasoned bird feeder?
Edgar: For someone starting out with backyard bird feeding I would recommend the large Droll Yankees New Generation Sunflower Tube Feeder. Seeds stay dry and it is easy to clean. It is the best all-round feeder to attract great birds. You can add on an Omni Seed Tray to attract larger birds such as Cardinals. The difference in quality between the Droll Yankees bird feeders and the “flimsy” feeders you find in the box stores is well worth the investment. For the seasoned bird feeder, what are the secrets? In a nutshell, bringing birds to a backyard involves a combination of feeders and natural food, a source of water, and the native trees, shrubs and or flowers to create a safe environment for the birds that live in the area. I suggest adding the companion Droll Yankees New Generation Thistle Feeder and a New Generation Peanut Feeder and you’re all set to sit back and enjoy your feathered friends.