By Wednesday night, we’d had four inches of rain on Green Mountain, and the birds were cold, wet and hungry. The hummingbirds seemed especially desperate, as I suspect that all that rain has diluted the nectar in the flowers.
The hummers were haunting our feeders, which I noticed, actually had more liquid in them than when I set them out two days ago. The rain had driven into the tiny holes, and watered down the sugar water. I decided to replace the diluted sugar water in the feeders.
While I made up some new water and refilled the feeders, hummers kept stopping by the feeding stations. They were not happy to find the feeders missing. I worked as fast as I could, listening to their frustrated chipping. It took me only a few minutes to get the feeders back on the back porch, but that was longer than the little birds wanted to wait.
We keep our third feeder across the yard in a flower garden. As I crossed the yard, holding the flat bowl of the feeder in both hands, a little female hummingbird hovered above my hand, impatient to get to the sugar water. I could feel the gust of air that they produced as she hovered. I set the bowl on top of its post, but before I could work it firmly in place, the female was dipping her beak into the hole between my hands.
I froze, unable to move for fear of scaring the starving bird off. She drank and drank, her hair-like tongue flicking out, for all the world as if she were licking her bill.
After a bit, she felt secure enough to sit on the edge they put on the bowl as a perch. Every so often, she’d flutter her wings, keeping them warm in case she had to dart off. When she did, the buzzing vibrated through the plastic to my hands — I could feel the hummingbird hum.
Finally, she was full — for the moment. Hummingbirds need lots of energy to survive cold nights. I had no doubt that she’d be back. And she was welcome to it.