The mystery of hummingbird nectar disappearing faster than the rate of evaporation and without the aid of the birds I intended it to fuel has puzzled me for a week now. Yesterday, I got the answer to my vanishing sugar water.
While I washed dishes, I watched summer-plump squirrels carrying nuts and other harvest dashing about the yard and creek bank. One of these comedic characters ran into the flower- bed beneath the kitchen window, intending to hide his loot in the soft soil. To his consternation, the late summer foliage hid six hens that would enjoy his stash, so he swiftly zipped out of range and back up the hill.
As I watched the squirrel run to safety, the hummingbird feeder happened to catch my eye. What was that dark blob surrounding the imitation blossoms on the red base of the nearly empty plastic bottle? That morning, the container had been half- full, but this blob had consumed at least half of that amount, if not more of the remaining mixture.
Peering more closely into the waning light, I could see that the blob possessed moving parts that shifted over one another, but none of them left the food source. Truly intrigued, I used my camera zoom to figure out what this alien invasion too close to my house actually was.
On about 25 zoom, I could see a hoard of bees loading up on nectar. That certainly fit in with all the other wildlife activity occurring in our backyard. The squirrels are working double time gathering and storing food for the winter. Every one that I see is carrying something in either its mouth or its paws. Robins and killdeer pour over the lawn and pasture snagging up chilled insects that don’t move as fast as usual. Spiders come closer and closer to the house, spinning intricate traps to capture a dinner that will fatten them for coming lean months.
With the cooler and shorter days, creatures that can’t depend on a trip to the grocery store are loading larders in preparation for the days ahead when food is hard to come by. What entertains me as I watch out the window is actually survival mode for creatures that share my neighborhood.
What they don’t remember to dig up this winter may sprout into a new tree in the yard next spring, which will bring another smile when I think about how the frantic storage activities of this fall led to the new greenery.