Thursday, June 2, 2016

How sweet it is?

Last night one of the neighbors, or perhaps just a transient on the way through, visited the deck, drank almost two cups of oriole nectar and ate a nearly full dish of grape jelly put out for the orioles. If it was a bear, it was the neatest, least destructive bear in the universe. Nope, much more likely a raccoon. Since one of the neighbors turns their cat loose each night, that's a theoretical possibility but that seems improbable, especially in light of the quantity of nectar consumed. I may have to ask for a trail camera for father's day if this kind of stuff keeps up.

oriole at oriole feeder (2015)
oriole at oriole feeder (2015)
 Photo by J. Harrington

The feeders needed cleaning anyhow and I'd been intending to get into the DIY nectar making business, so this morning was filled first with research, then resolution of inconsistent formulas for two different nectar mixtures for different species (we have both hummingbird and oriole feeders, but this year the oriole feeder has attracted only hummingbirds), then measuring, dissolving and filling.

hummingbird at oriole feeder (2015)
hummingbird at oriole feeder (2015)
Photo by J. Harrington

The first web site visited proposed a mixture of 4/1 water/sugar for hummers and 8/1 for orioles. It suggested the hummingbird nectar could serve as a base for the oriole's and any excess could be stored in the refrigerator. That was clearly written by someone who hasn't seen the inside of our refrigerator. Space is at a premium. The next site suggested a ratio of 6/1 for orioles and 4/1 for hummingbirds. We were closing the gap! Finally, I found a site that noted orioles will do fine with hummingbird nectar but that more dilute nectar is less expensive, since it uses only half the sugar. The stock market will have to get a lot worse before I start to track the effect of a quarter cup of sugar a week on the bird feeding / entertainment budget. (Thank heavens!)

Our hummingbirds can now enjoy their 4/1 mixture at whichever feeder they use and, if the orioles ever arrive, they'll be rewarded with a richer sip. I'll try to remember to bring in all the deck feeders each evening, thereby "saving" from our night visitors the nectar that contains the "extra" quarter cup of sugar. If any of you know from experience that orioles shouldn't get be fed hummingbird nectar, please let me know. I know too much sugar isn't good for people, but birds?

The Humming-bird

by Emily Dickinson

A route of evanescence
With a revolving wheel;
A resonance of emerald,
A rush of cochineal;
And every blossom on the bush
Adjusts its tumbled head, —
The mail from Tunis, probably,
An easy morning’s ride.

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