Eating out of the palm of her hands
Published 10:09 pm Friday, August 26, 2016
Hummingbirds are agile little birds. They can fly right, left, up, down, backwards and even upside down. /// They will also land on Yvonne Nieves hands and come to her outside deck when she whistles. /// “They actually know my whistle, and they know when they hear it, I am either going to put out fresh nectar or manually advance their feeder,” she said.
Nieves, who lived in New Orleans before moving to Vicksburg, said she got interested in watching the tiny colorful birds after seeing them in her mom’s yard.
“My mother used to watch the birds when they came to her Bradford Pear tree. She could never pinpoint what kind of bird it was because they flew so fast.”
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But after discovering they were hummingbirds, Nieves said she and her mother would sit and watch their little feathered friends for hours.
“It is still the highlight of my mother’s day.”
Nieves has been observing hummingbirds for about eight years now — four years in Vicksburg — and has witnessed growing numbers at her home.
“The environment and surroundings here at the Landings is absolutely perfect for mass amounts of hummingbirds because of the small lake and because of all of the trees, insects, lots of shade, and it’s a safe haven for the hummers.”
And as long as hummingbirds are well fed and protected, adults and their babies will return every year, she said.
Vicksburg is in the migration path for all species of hummingbirds, Nieves said, however, the majority locals will see are the Ruby-Throated hummingbirds.
“The males have the bright ruby red throats and emerald green backs that you see in the photos and the females have just the all white chest and light green backs.”
During the first week of September is when Nieves said hummingbird migration begins.
“It’s the most beautiful and amazing thing to see and watch for two to three weeks straight. Every year I receive between 65 to 80 Hummingbirds that come to my balcony and stay with me for those few weeks.”
Nieves said the birds will gorge themselves from sunrise to sunset with nectar and tiny insects, “and before sunset every evening you will see them by the mass amounts come to my balcony feeders, and the ones who wait, will wait their turn sitting on the stick perches I made for them sticking inside of the tiny chains holding up the feeders.”
Nieves said she makes her own humming bird nectar.
“I never buy store bought nectar. The red dye in store bought nectar is very bad for their tiny kidneys. I always mix their clear nectar by the gallon, using four cups of sugar to a gallon of water and mix until it is completely dissolved,” she said, and whatever is not used, refrigerate.
“They like it cold.”
Nieves said she does not boil her water to make the nectar since it is consumed within a day, but if the nectar sits for two or more days, she said one would need to boil the sugar and water so the nectar will not mildew.
“You also need to try and avoid direct sunlight, because this will cause the nectar to spoil,” she said.
Since March, which is the beginning of hummingbird season, Nieves said she has used eight 10-pound bags of sugar.
“I’m refilling three 32 oz. feeders daily,” she said, “and when the mass group of hummingbirds arrive here in two weeks for migration, I’ll then be refilling the feeders twice a day every day for three weeks until they all fly south for the winter. That’s exactly why they will gorge themselves for those 3 weeks, because they have so far to fly.”