Why You Should Never Betray a Hummingbird

By Jack Edwards

My hummingbird feeder is notable for three reasons:  1. It’s antiseptically clean, 2. It’s filled with fresh delicious “nectar,” and 3. It’s completely devoid of hummingbirds.  In fact, several local hummingbirds have not only requested, but RECEIVED, a declaration from the Oregon Hummingbird Association to ban my feeder.

Here is what I know for a fact about hummingbirds: 1. They are super tiny, 2. They flap their wings super fast, and 3. They hold petty grudges.  “But, Jack,” you say, “you’re not a licensed ornithologist.  You don’t know anything about animal psychology – except for what you picked up reading Marley and Me.”  This may be true, but you need to remember one thing, Marley and Me was a great book.  They even made it into a movie.  And one other thing, I got my birding education the old fashion way, from the Ornithological School of Hard Knocks.

Last summer, our neighbors down the street, we call them “The Poodle People,” because they have standard-sized poodles, invited us to dinner.  We ate on the Poodle People’s back patio.  And much to our delight, about 500 hummingbird feeders where hanging everywhere.  Okay, more like four or five, but in any event, it was the Grand Central Station of hummingbirds.  We loved it.

My wife promptly bought a hummingbird feeder, and we hung it in our backyard.  In no time, a skinny drab-gray colored hummingbird “took possession” of it.  This hummingbird had all the grace and hospitality of your average serial killer.  If any other hummingbird so much as flew within a mile, it would launch a vicious, all-out, kamikaze-style attack.  And it is here, sadly, that I must make my confession.

Due to the uninspiring physical appearance of our mean-spirited hummingbird, I stopped filling the feeder.  I abandoned it… but only for a short time.  By “short time,” I mean the end of last summer, into fall, through winter, and concluding at the end of spring.  Okay… and just into the first part of this summer.  Unfortunately, within this short time, word spread through the hummingbird community that this feeder was a “dry hole.”  The more ornery hummingbirds wrote letters to the editor criticizing my neglect.  Other, more unruly hummingbirds, organized protest marches (at least the ones living up in Portland).  Property was damaged.  Cars were overturned.

As a result, when I filled my feeder three weeks ago, the hummingbirds (even the less attract ones) turned up their noses (if they have noses).

My options are now limited.  Tomorrow, I’m going over to the Poodle People’s backyard to offer my sincere apology.  If that doesn’t work, I only have one choice left.  I’ll throw away the feeder and buy a dog that looks like the one from Marley and Me.