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Look into the latest in hummingbird feeders

Jamie Drake

Outdoors columnist Jamie Drake

A few weeks ago, I purchased a heated hummingbird feeder online from a website called Hummers Heated Delight.

I couldn’t be more delighted with the product. No buyer’s regret here, just regret that I didn’t buy one sooner.

It’s not a fancy, hi-tech gadget. The feeder stays warm via a small 7-watt light bulb encased on the underside. The bottom has a six-foot electrical cord that must be plugged in so the light bulb can heat the sugar water in the plastic reservoir. That’s all there is to it.

In addition to keeping the nectar from freezing, I like the warm, red glow that emanates from the feeder in my backyard when it’s dark outside. I like to think the of the light as a beacon to lost, hungry hummingbirds perched in the trees along the banks of the Patuxent River.

So far I haven’t noticed any hummingbirds visiting it yet, but I do wonder if I’ll get my regular visitors a tad earlier than normal this spring. Usually I notice the first hummingbird sometime between April 15 and May 1. I’ve never seen one in my own yard before April 15. Who knows what 2020 will bring, though? It’s a new year, a new yard, and a new feeder.

The Hummers Heated Delight feeder comes in 16-ounce and 32-ounce capacity, although I would guess 16 ounces is about as big a feeder as someone could need in our region.

The company also offers replacement parts, light bulbs and cleaning brushes all at reasonable prices. I went ahead and added a pack of light bulbs to my order just for convenience sake.

The 16-ounce version of the feeder is available for $32 and ships free to Maryland. It took about a week for mine to arrive. You can view the product at https://hummersheateddelight.com.

If you want to hang up a heated hummingbird feeder this very day, you can shop locally at either location of Wild Birds Unlimited shops in Southern Maryland.

The heater sold at Wild Birds Unlimited is a separate unit from the feeder and attaches to a disc style feeder with a perch. If you’re not sure if your feeder is a match, you could always bring it to the store and check. The sales folks are always friendly and helpful, always taking the time to help customers, answer questions and offer advice.

And that’s exactly how I found out something interesting about hummingbird feeders you might not know. Did you know that Wild Birds Unlimited hummingbird feeders are all red and don’t have any yellow flowers on them? That’s because hummingbirds can see the color red from three-quarters of a mile away and don’t need any other color to get their attention.

What’s more, the color yellow can attract unwanted visitors such as hornets, bees and wasps. I haven’t gotten my hummingbird feeders out of the garage yet, but I’m going to guess most of them have yellow flowers.

The price for the Wild Birds Unlimited heater is $44.99 and feeders range in size from 8-ounce capacity to 16 ounces with prices ranging from $26.99 to $29.99. In addition, all Wild Birds Unlimited hummingbird feeders are dishwasher top rack safe. I can’t say that about mine.

Regardless of what kind of hummingbird feeder you own, there’s less than a month till you should get it up in your yard.

Hummingbird update

Last month, I reported about a hummingbird sighted at a feeder in St. Mary’s County and later identified by an expert as a ruby-throated hummingbird.

Jane Kostenko is an avid birder and wife of Tyler Bell, the editor of the Southern Maryland Audubon Society’s Osprey newsletter. Together, they had the pleasure of befriending the lucky homeowners and escorting visitors to view this rare visitor. She wrote an update to share with readers:

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a bird in hand is absolutely priceless. The tale of an over-wintering ruby-throated hummingbird in Compton was reported in a previous edition of Outdoors; pictures were taken and a tentative ID was made based on those images. A licensed bird bander from the Bird Banding Lab in Laurel arranged with the homeowners to capture and band the bird. Imagine his surprise when he turned the bird over while taking measurements and saw a single purple gorget (throat) feather! That changed everything, turning the ID of this bird into an immature male black-chinned hummingbird, a first for Maryland.”

The homeowners recognized the interest a “first species” sighting like this would generate and graciously allowed controlled visitation on their property.

Logistics (parking, neighbors, active farm use, etc.) were all addressed and over 120 birders, most from Maryland but a few from Virginia and Washington, D.C., delighted in watching the hummingbird. He would zip in from his perch in a holly, sip from his choice of heated and unheated feeders, while occasionally catching small bugs for protein.

First seen by the homeowners on Jan. 18, the bird hasn’t been seen now since the morning of Feb. 22. Expectations from experts were that the bird would molt in new flight feathers (and possibly a full purple gorget) before he left, but apparently the hummer had other ideas.

The moral of the story is more complicated than keeping feeders up through the winter. This can be a hazard because of the risk of nectar freezing and breaking the feeder (unless you have one that’s heated). Be observant to what birds should be around at certain times.

If you notice something unusual, contact an expert. The Southern Maryland Audubon Society (www.somdaudubon.org) and Wild Birds Unlimited (http://stmaryscounty.wbu.com) are excellent, free resources in our area.

Who knows? You might host an errant avian visitor and save its life in the process.

Packard hosts kayak fishing event Saturday

Join recreational fisherman Eric Packard from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday at Patuxent Adventure Center in Solomons for an introduction to kayak fishing.

Packard will talk about how he sets up his kayak for fishing, his favorite fishing spots and techniques he uses to make the most of his time on the water. Learn the difference between pedal-drive kayaks and paddle only, how to use electronics on a kayak, where to access local waters by kayak and how to fish in a lake versus in the bay. The event is free.

Also, mark your calendars for April 4 will be PAC Demo Day at St. Mary’s Lake. Folks will have the opportunity to try out some pedal-drive kayaks from Native Watercraft.

For more information about these events and to RSVP, go to www.pacpaddle.com/. While you’re there, sign up for email alerts so you never miss an event.

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