Hummingbird Tease

Sometimes the self help gurus can get confusing. Like when they say you can attract things to you by the power of your thinking, but on the other hand if you want something too much, it’s no dice. Some days I can ride that gray wave and almost think I understand, and other days, I want what I want, pithy sayings be damned.

My current deepest wish is to see a hummingbird. Last year I put out flowers they were supposed to like and nothing happened. Then around this time in mid-summer, a friend suggested a hummingbird feeder. Within weeks I had a regular evening visitor. And I can’t say I blame him/her. I’d rather mainline the sugar too in a pan of brownies than eat a 100 chocolate chips slowly one at time.

Fast forward to this year, and at the height the COVID-19 surge in Boston, working 10-14 hours days, 7 days a week, I was looking for hope, or at the very least a distraction. I started Googling “When can you put out a hummingbird feeder in Massachusetts?” Several sites said that hummingbirds start returning to the area at the end of April, when the flowers start blooming.

I was delighted. I could get in so many more hummingbird sightings by hanging the feeder up early! So I did. I changed the nectar once a week diligently, and waited like a little kid anticipating her favorite candy.

And waited. And waited.

I did more research about flowers they like since the ones I had last year didn’t seem to do the trick. But then I had to I wait until I could actually get out and get flowers without endangering myself or freaking out about going to a people-filled nursery. I got impatiens, petunias, and begonias, planted them and waited again. I sent out my ask to the universe: The hummingbird Ponderosa buffet is open for business! We’ve got pretty nectar-filled flowers! A well of nectar just for you! No waiting!

When I noticed that even the bees were snubbing the flowers, (and, thus, me) I just got mad. Like I don’t have enough things going on that one little hummingbird can’t take a minute out of its busy day to get an easy meal? Or even the stupid bees? In the meantime I was battling aphids and bud worms, but for what? For these ungrateful hummingbirds? OK, so maybe I was also enjoying the colors and shapes of the flowers a little bit on their own, but still.

It makes a girl feel spurned.

Fine. COVID-19 is running roughshod over my life, why should hummingbirds be any different? And maybe I just need to be grateful for the host of other common, less glamorous birds that are nearly sideswiping my deck. Want what you have, right? Isn’t that another guru thing to say?

But then it happened. I was up a little earlier one day checking on the tomatoes in the yard and as I was returning to my second floor deck, I saw the quick shadow move away from the feeder. Ah-ha! But then I realized, like a lot of humans I want what I want, but I often don’t want to work too hard to get it. And getting up early is one of those too hard things.

Little did I know it was game on.

Several evenings later, I was on the deck well past sunset, and the light was dim. But then I saw a small, quick moving dark thing alight on the feeder. But coy as ever, it was directly opposite me and I could only make out the bobbing tip of its head. The ripples in the nectar as it sipped was the only other indication it was there at all until it flew off.

The next night I was chatting on the phone at dusk, and there is was again, this time stopping for one sip at each flower box impatiens, petunia, begonia. I breathlessly narrated its movements, fully expecting it to land on the feeder as that was the next thing in its path. But it flew off after the begonia.


I have caught it several more times out of the corner of my eye, but that’s OK. I know it’s out there. And I may be greedy and demanding, but I’m not a complete jerk. For my self-help money the Rolling Stones may have it right:

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you may find
You get what you need.

Still waiting on the damn bees though.

Photo credit: Inkaterra


  1. Hi Dee. I’m also a hummingbird wannabe! Tried many different feeders and finally found one that attracts many hummers. However, the ants have taken over the feeder even after spraying the living crap out of the area. So I had to give up. The universe be damned. Take care

    1. The beautiful little fuckers!!! And how are ants getting in there? Is there no sense of decency in the insect world? Anyway glad to hear from you!

  2. They are one of my favorite birds. They taunt eagles, and also often live under their nests. They are the only board that can fly in all directions including backwards. They noctitate instead of sleep. Like sleep, only deeper like they go to another world, their beak pointing straight up. Though, Nature made a trade-off. For all of their amazing traits, they cannot walk, can only grasp with their feet. So, they’re either flying or sit-standing.

    Cool you have one coming around.

  3. Very cool! Thanks for reading! I’m hoping it will get a little braver as the summer wears on–I’m really quite harmless, ha ha!

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