August 06, 2007

A Gallon a Day

A couple months ago I posted a movie on here showing what I then called a "swarm" of hummingbirds. Well, in retrospect, having four hummingbirds buzzing around your head for the first time can certainly seem like a lot. Now that all of our resident hummers' babies have fledged, there are a lot more visiting our feeders. Add to that a constant stream of new hummers who seem to continuously discover our feeders (I think their location has been posted on some secret hummingbird message board or something) as they begin to head south on their late summer migration, and we have a virtual smorgasbord of tiny, buzzing birds. We've also had rather frequent visits by both Summer Tanagers and Hooded Orioles to the feeders. However, I probably won't be posting a video of one of them drinking out of the feeder while we're holding it any time soon.

I have absolutely no idea how to estimate the number of hummers we have visiting the feeders in our backyard now. Anything I could come up with would be a complete guess...although, I do recognize some of the juveniles as repeat visitors with their distinctively patchy bibs starting to grow in. Lately, a group of colorful Rufous Hummingbirds have decided to lay claim to several of our feeders. They've been bullying the other species away from the prime drinking holes. Although, I think the Black-chins seemed to have figured out how to handle them...they ignore them. It's quite comical to watch a hungry hummer poking another one in the back with its bill to try to get it to move.

Suffice to say, we are now going through over a gallon of sugar water a day, and at any given point there are probably 30-40 hummers buzzing around our backyard. If anyone knows of a regression analysis we can use to estimate hummingbird visitation based on food consumption, let me know.


Janine said...

You could make some extra $$$ by charging admission for people to come & HOLD the Humming Bird feeder!!! :o)

Anonymous said...

A rule of thumb (and a rough one at that) is 500-1000 birds per day per gallon.

Dave said...

Try this math:
1ml = 1 gram of sugar water
1 gal= 3.75L or 3750ml (3750gm by wt)
Avg hummer wt is about 4gm in MN
Experts estimate intake at 1-2x wt/d

Assume 1x weight/day: 3750gm/4gm per bird = 937 birds

Assume 2x weight/d: 420 birds

If heavier birds, then less birds.

Great photos and video