DEAR JOAN: I bought a glass hummingbird feeder a few weeks ago. It is a beautiful blown-glass beaker and the hummingbirds love it, but in the last 10 days a strange thing has happened.
A male hummingbird has taken over guarding the feeder and chases away other hummingbirds who come to drink. There is a rose tree very near the feeder, and he just sits there practically all day. Every now and then, he will zip over and take a drink himself, but most of the time he sits in the rose tree and watches the feeder.
What gives? Is he keeping other birds away, so he can have the sugar water all to himself? Should we make an effort to shoo him away, so others can have a drink?
Thomas Cady, Pleasant Hill
DEAR THOMAS: You seem to have attracted a hummingbird who appreciates good art.
There’s no need to shoo him away. If you’re going to all the trouble of buying a beautiful feeder and keeping it filled, you can’t be picky about who uses it. Plus, it would be a full-time job trying to keep the art lover away but let the less appreciative feed.
Hummingbirds are solitary — they don’t hang around in flocks — and that can make them overly territorial when it comes to food sources. They will jealously guard a feeder or a patch of lovely blossoms, trying to keep it for themselves.
Experts recommend two very different techniques to break up the monopoly. The first is to put out a lot more feeders. If a hummingbird sees that there is a plentiful supply of food, it might not be as keen on driving others away.
The other plan of action is to let the bully have its feeder, but add another on the other side of the house or out of sight from the first one. The bully might try to guard both, but will soon learn that it’s an exhausting and impossible task.
DEAR JOAN: A duck laid eggs on top of the decorative cooking range-chimney area on my patio. Each time she flies, all the feathers she collected fall down and the eggs roll, as there is no edge to the platform.
If they hatch, how are the ducklings going to climb down? Are they going to die if they fall? What can I do?
Meena, Weston, Florida
DEAR MEENA: We have to trust nature when it comes to such things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give a duck a hand.
Your mama duck might be new at this and chose her nesting site unwisely. Take a shallow box, basket or bowl — it should be just deep enough to keep the eggs from rolling out — and add some straw or other nesting materials. If she will allow you, wait until she’s off the nest, then quickly scoop the eggs up and put them in your makeshift nest. Then put your nest in the same place where the duck made her original one.
After the eggs hatch, you can try moving the box down to ground level, but it likely won’t harm the ducklings if they have to jump down from the stove. They weigh next to nothing and the drop isn’t that far.
Depending on the breed of duck, the ducklings might stay in the nest for a bit, so in that case, you’ll need to move it to the ground, so they can travel in and out.
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