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A hummingbird high rise?

August 5, 2012
Kevin Williams - Grundy County Conservation Director , Reinbeck Courier

Last week, I told you that my Missouri brother-in-law provided the inspiration for the column. This week it is my wife's cousin from Nebraska that helped me out with the topic.

Her cousin, I'll call him Tom, because that's his name, rides RAGBRAI every year. Tom and his wife, Deb, stayed overnight at our house rather than pitch a tent in Marshalltown. While visiting, Tom asked me about hummingbirds. He wondered if we saw them during the summer around here. I answered yes because my son, Sean, had just related a story a couple of weeks earlier of hummingbirds recently visiting his feeders.

I guess they don't see them at this time over in Nebraska City, Nebraska or at least he hasn't had the opportunity. Then he told me about a nest box that he had purchased for hummingbirds. Now, I was immediately skeptical because I know that the ruby throated hummingbird which is the species around here doesn't nest in cavities. Then he clarified things by saying that it wasn't actually a nest box but a nest structure.

He went on to describe a cast aluminum affair that is fashioned to look like a forked tree branch, an artificial tree branch set at just the right angle and just the right fork to attract hummingbirds to build their nest there. Again, I was skeptical. But he had purchased two (they come in packages of two) and had placed them up under the overhang of the house as per the instructions.

Well, I decided to go to everyones' source for information in this day and age the internet. I googled hummingbird house and found countless sites where I could purchase one (actually two they come in pairs just like Tom said).

I read the information that the people that developed then furnished and there were photos of hummingbirds and nests on the structures. You can do the same thing too and read about them yourselves. I'm sorry, but the first thing that came to my mind was, "Sure they might work if there are no natural branches in the area," (like a cage filled with hummingbirds). But I remain a skeptic that I could purchase and install the structures at my house and experience any positive results.

But perhaps I'm being too skeptical, too hard on the makers of hummingbird houses. Like anything out there, the proof is in the pudding, as they say. So, if there are folks out there who have purchased these hummingbird houses and have success, I'd love to hear about it. They are such a delicate and beautiful looking member of the bird family.

Until I have more proof, I think that I'm going to continue doing the things that I know will help. Planting flowers (especially red ones), hanging a nectar feeder or two, and planting trees and shrubs at my house and around the county. Trees and shrubs help all sorts of wildlife.



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