EDITOR’S NOTE: Please welcome our newest columnist, Neil Ball, who will share photos and profiles of local birds that he’s seen and studied in our area.

By Neil Ball

The most common and the only year around hummingbird that we have in B-Town is the Anna’s Hummingbird.

As with most birds, the males are more colorful than the females. The drab colors of the females and young birds allow them to blend in with the background to hide them from predators. The male, however, have a bright red patch of feathers on their chin which they can “turn on” to both attract the females or ward off unwanted intruders.

Hummingbirds are pollinators, like bees. As they go into a flower to drink the nectar, flower pollen sticks to their beak and feathers, which they then spread onto the next flower. But nectar is not the only thing they eat. Hummingbirds are quite skilled at catching small insects in flight. Granted, they don’t have the gapping mouth of a swallow, but what they lack in the mouth department, they make up for in maneuverability.

Hummingbird feeders are a good way to better see the birds up close, but feeders take a lot of care. To keep the hummers safe, the feeders should be washed weekly, and the sugar water replaced regularly, especially in the warmer weather. You should never use red dye, or hummingbird food that has red dye. The dye does not attract the birds and it is harmful to the long-term health of the hummers.

For more information visit this website: https://www.audubon.org/news/hummingbird-feeding-faqs

Until next time, happy birding.

Neil Ball was born in Kansas and came to the Puget Sound area when Boeing transferred his father here from Florida. He is a Highline High School alum who has lived in the south Puget Sound area since 1971 with a few breaks for his stint in the Navy and an overseas assignment from Boeing.

Birding became a hobby about 40 years ago. Since then, he has recorded seeing 595 of the 9712 species of birds in the world on his life list.

Clearly, he needs to get out more.


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