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GUEST COLUMN: An amazing trick for hummingbirds

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Ginny Schleihauf

I stood on Clara’s deck on the outskirts of Sarnia with a bit of doubt. But I thought I should give her the courtesy of waiting a few minutes to see what happened.

Clara, whose friends call her “Raz,” claims she feeds hummingbirds. That didn’t seem strange … until she told me she does it from her hand! I told her I had to see it to believe it, so she invited me over.

First, she took down most of the hummingbird feeders in her yard and went in the house. She came back out wearing a colourful plaid shirt. “Something to get the little jewels’ attention,” she explained.

Next, Raz took a little red plastic flower from one of the hummer feeders and placed it in a sterilized baby jar with sugar water.

Leaning against her house for support, she held out a hand with the jar, pointing her fingertips up. “This is so the hummingbirds can sit and dine,” she said.

Then we waited.

Hummmm. Hummmm! First I heard the noise and then I felt the air stirred by tiny wings. The hummers came like little dive-bombers homing in on a target. “Hard to believe all that commotion’s caused by something so small, isn’t it?” Raz said.

I stood with my eyes wide and my mouth hanging open in disbelief. One hummer darted toward Raz’s extended hand. Then a second one. And more flew in – one, two, three at a time. I was so excited my arms and legs were covered in hummer bumps!

Then she poured a small amount of sugar water into her cupped hand and dipped the plastic feeder flower in it. More hummers zoomed in. It was hard to believe – they were actually eating from her hand!

For an encore, Raz used a flat plastic cutout of a flower. She placed the cutout on her palm and poured sugar water in her cupped hand. This brought the hummers even closer.

“Why don’t you give it a try?” she asked as a hummingbird hovered by her hand.

I propped myself against the wall and stood perfectly still. The feeling of wind against my cheeks as ruby red and emerald jewels zoomed within inches of my face was exhilarating. My senses went into overload and a smile spread across my face. “Don’t smile too broadly,” Raz joked. “You’ll scare them away!”

Now I am a believer. Hummingbirds will eat from your hand. All that’s needed is patience, a red flower, some sugar water and a steady hand. And don’t forget to bring a friend with a camera. Otherwise, no one will ever believe you.

 Ginny Schleihauf is chair of the Sarnia Gardeners’ Club

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