ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Ramblings of a Ranger- Hummingbird Heaven

Updated on April 12, 2013
Lots of bushes and trees helps give roosting spots for hummingbirds
Lots of bushes and trees helps give roosting spots for hummingbirds | Source
Open space on the Pacific migration flyway allows us to feed and nurture many hummingbird species
Open space on the Pacific migration flyway allows us to feed and nurture many hummingbird species | Source
Water is important for drinking and bathing. We use a small pump and recycling water fall, but also standing bird bath bowls for other bird species.
Water is important for drinking and bathing. We use a small pump and recycling water fall, but also standing bird bath bowls for other bird species. | Source
At dusk, the hummingbirds gather in greatest numbers, sometimes sharing drinking holes, with up to 20 birds  on a 10-hole feeder!
At dusk, the hummingbirds gather in greatest numbers, sometimes sharing drinking holes, with up to 20 birds on a 10-hole feeder! | Source

Connect to Nature-Heavenly Hummingbird Habitat

From the Summit Lake Ranger Station log book, Lassen Volcanic National Park: Another season! Finished (teaching) school down south in a heat-wave, full on summer, then headed north to lovely Lassen, where spring is just showing a first blush! ...the ranger station is in great shape, a small fire crackles, candles and oil lamps throw a warm and mellow light... a toast to the summer ahead!

So I had the opportunity to spend time at my twin sister's place, part of the winter and spring, in the sunny, supercrowded Southland of California. They live in an almost typical suburb, marching lines of homes in rows, tiny yards and houses 10 feet from each other. Almost typical, but not quite. To walk out their back gate is to step into another world, a step back in time. Down a steep embankment, through stands of willow that belie a tiny seasonal water source and up the other side to the rolling hills of Chino. Several hundred acres of protected open space and then 15,000+ acres of state park land beckon! Hills greened from the winter rains, (as meager as they were), roll on and the variety and number of birds is astounding. Cooper's hawks and red tail hawks soar, buzzards and finches and sparrows and hooded orioles ( in striking yellow and black dress, who drop in to sneak a slurp of sugar water from a humming bird feeder); roadrunners run, yesterday I spied a passing visitor, a colorful western tanager, hummingbirds, of course. And then there are the lizards, toads and frogs and screech owls and snakes (king, gopher, and Southern Pacific rattlesnakes, among others), and ticks and beetles... a plethora of wildlife to experience. Coyotes howl and bark their frenzied calls many nights, and a herd of horses roam at will, often showing off by standing dramatically at the tops of hills as the sun sets, striking scenic poses, their silhouettes dark against the perfect sky. This place is on a major Pacific migration flyway, and there are both native year round bird species and those winging by, bound for distant lands, especially in the spring and autumn. My sister and brother-in -law have made sure to create habitat that is welcoming to bird life, especially hummingbirds.

Just about any place can be made more bird friendly. Having fresh water for them to bathe in and drink, and changing it regularly, is a big plus. We use a small waterfall with a recycling pump so the water is aerated, and fresh water is added several times a week. Several seed feeders and a variety of bird seeds, make for attracting a wide variety of bird species, but this can also become an expensive habit. A yard with different trees, bushes and flowers to attract the optimum number of species is also a big plus. Cats, feral and domestic, are a serious problem for birds and small animals... it is estimated that literally hundreds of millions of birds, lizards, small mammals and other critters are killed each year. Common sense placement of feeders so that birds can safely feed is a necessity.We keep feeders stocked for the many seed eaters: sparrows, wrens, finches and others, but it is for the hummingbirds that we seem to have created the perfect environment.

This scene is one of pure magic! Five to seven hummingbird feeders (depending on the season and the numbers of birds), with extra strength sugar water are maintained for those hummers who call the area home, and for those passing through.At any given time, there may be 15 or 30 hummers zooming around and drinking the sugar nectar, bathing in the small water fountain, nesting or roosting nearby. But, as each evening draws near, there is a dramatic increase in the number of hummingbirds, as they congregate to 'tank up' for the night. With 10 feeding spots at each feeder, and some spots shared by two, on many evenings we witness 70 or 80 birds. It's no exaggeration, maybe a conservative count, but some winter evenings upwards of 90 or 100 hummingbirds are in a frenzy of feeding. This is my favorite time to observe, all the little birds in a more sharing mood, and to stand in a small space surrounded by these feeders and birds all around, is to feel a deep connection to the beauty of nature's design.

Many have grown used to me, and sometimes when I am taking empty hummingbird feeders in for cleaning and refilling, several will be buzzing around my head, inches away, or still siting on the feeder in my hand, reluctant to give up a chosen spot. During the day, there is the typical hyper flying and dive-bombing and general competition of hummingbirds, some trying to chase others away and 'lord over' one particular feeder, others sneaking up to grab a spot while some little male chases others away, yet it seems that everyone gets his/her turn, eventually. When there are the greatest number of birds around, we go through several pounds of sugar a week, though now with the warmer weather, flowers and other food sources more available, and the draw of migration pulling at them, the numbers have dropped off some. But that number will grow again, come autumn.

An on-line search reveals that there are at least thirteen species of hummingbird one might see in California, and most of them are represented at the feeder free-for-all. These thirteen species are: Allen's, Anna's, Black-chinned, Blue-throated, Broad-billed, Broad tailed, Calliope, Costas, Green-violet ear, Ruby- throated, Rufous, Violet-crowned, and Xantus' (which is said to be rare)... there are just too many feeders for any one bird or one species to dominate, with birds switching feeders, more hovering around or streaking in and out of the area, others nervously sitting for a moment in the trees above, and it's all about moving, moving, moving! To stand in the center of this nightly event is breathtaking, makes one almost giddy: the sound and sight of so much movement, color, zooming wings and trills of calling hummers just gladdens the heart. And though I witness some close calls, they never collide into me or each other and that is amazing to me that so many high-speed sugar water junkies can be so talented as to avoid mishaps.

The hills here are drying out now, the grasses soon to wither and bake under the dry winds and heat of summer. I can quickly run or hike up over a hill top and see before me only bright vistas of rolling hills, little wooded canyons, scattered wildflowers and pretend, for a while, that I an not surrounded by millions of people, asphalt parking lots, freeways, malls, houses, and endless sprawl. It is beautiful country, made all the more so by the fact that it won't last. Every green thing is rushing to flower and seed, laying the groundwork for next year's spring show.

Our national parks and wilderness areas are exceptional and worthy of visiting. Our connection to nature is deep and powerful and important in this technological overload of a world we have created. Visit a wild place, hike or camp or fish and, to paraphrase Muir: let nature's glad tidings flow into you! Or hang a bird feeder and plant a wildflower garden and welcome nature to your place. It's the connection that counts, however it is made, and you'll be glad you did!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Very well said, with a beautiful resonance, at that. Great job, and I am amazed that you can see 13 species of hummer in one place.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)