Last call for Gilmore’s hummersBy TIM BEELAND,
For Larry Gilmore, sugar isn’t just for making sweet tea these days. Gilmore, who lives just outside the city limits of Sebastopol, spends much of his days working in his yard, mowing grass, doing a little gardening, thinking about cutting down a dead oak tree out front of his house, and feeding the hummingbirds under his carport.
“I’ve gone through just about four bags of sugar in two weeks,” Gilmore said last Wednesday while watching the tiny birds feed. For those counting, that’s 16 pounds of sugar, mixed with water and a little red food coloring, which gives it a bright orange/red glow in the early morning sun.
The hungry birds seem to think Gilmore’s sweet mixture is just right too as they swarm the feeders while buzzing around over his head. They will quickly dart off into a nearby tree when strangers approach — “they know something is going on,” Gilmore said — but as he tips one of the feeders, and the nectar overflows, the pack quickly returns fighting for a place at the trough.
According to the Mississippi State University Extension Service, “Only ruby-throated hummingbirds, the most extensive travelers, are known to breed east of the Mississippi river.” They are migratory birds that spend their winters in Central and South America and return to Mississippi in early spring and leave before the onset of cold weather in fall.
That mirrors what Gilmore had to say about his drove of hummingbirds. “There were probably 50 or 75 out here Sunday,” he said, “but with this cool snap some of them have already left for the year.”
Gilmore added that he thinks one of the reasons he has so many of the little birds is because of that same large oak tree next to his carport in which they were hiding from the photographer. “I’ve heard that they roost in those trees at night,” he said, and in fact that is true. An Internet search says that hummers actually go into a trance like “torpor state of temporary hibernation” at night.
That being the case, one thing is for certain, when Larry Gilmore’s hummingbirds wake up, they sure are hungry!