Food for thought

In a random blink of an eye, we saw a hummingbird hover around the red construction-tape waterproofing of a Christmas light on our railing.

The hummingbird feeders have been down for some time now, but we sprang into action, sterilizing two of them, filling them with proper sugar to water ratio (no dye, no honey) and hung them outside in their usual positions until dark when the temperatures dropped below zero.

The next day, we saw three hummingbirds taking turns in a feeding frenzy, quite a spectacle to behold in December.

How any small birds survive is a true miracle of God and nature, but we can help by putting out water when none is available due to freezing. It’s a chore, but they appreciate your effort.

From our backyard, we have seen 18 different species and realize how important trees, bushes and plants are to their ‘making a living’. Yes, there are times when I want to remove certain trees/bushes, but that would reduce their habitat options as well as food sources, so a good pruning suffices.

As for food supplementation, do some research and once you start you must continue as they quickly become reliant on your kindness. However, I reserve this action for extreme cold.

The bonus here is that our cat loves to watch all this activity from the safety (for the birds) of her ‘catio’ (cat patio), although a big eagle was eyeballing her from the top of a Douglas fir on a supervised yard outing.

A sad news item some years back from Stratford, Ontario described how an autopsy of several majestic swans revealed that they had died of malnutrition resulting from a diet of white bread, which gave the swans a sense of fullness but provided misguided satisfaction to people getting a second use of their leftovers.  Let us not feed our feathered friends French fries nor breads that we ourselves would be well advised to leave alone.

Gord Byers

Parksville and Port Alberni

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