Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cooking up a Sugar High: Hum Along?

Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter (pardon the pun) already know that besides my passion for cooking, I'm also a fool for birds. Yes, a birdwatcher. Complete with field guides, a nerdy stalking vest, binoculars, spotting scope--and the Audubon Bird app on my iPhone. Yup, prone to squealing with joy at feathered sightings and often found with bincoular dents around my eyes.  I tote huge sacks of birdseed home from Costco and Walmart. But there is one species of birds that draws me to the kitchen: Our hummingbirds.
Like most people, I initially forked over cash for "hummingbird mix"--that stuff that looks like it came out of a Jello box and turns the water in the feeders red.

Then I found out three things:

Hummingbirds don't need the liquid to be red to attract them
The red dyes aren't healthful for these birds (or humans either)
AND it's super-easy and cheap to make your own hummingbird syrup

So today at Authors' Galley I'm combining my love of cooking with my love of birds. Voila: 

Cheap and Simple Hummingbird Bird Syrup


Water and Sugar in a 4:1 ratio

2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of sugar will make 2 cups of syrup

Fill measuring cup with 1 cup of near-boiling water. I used to microwave it, but our new house has this amazing gadget, a hot water dispenser--love it, love it (perfect for tea, pasta water, cleanup).

 Stir 1/2 cup of sugar into the hot water: 

Add cold water to the 2 cup-mark, stir again. 
Pour into your feeder:

Wait for the happy applause . . . um, grateful hums:

If you're thinking that I can't come up with an excerpt from one of my books that mentions hummingbirds, think again. 

In Trauma Plan, readers meet secondary character Vesta Calder, a diabetic recluse (with a pivotal secret!) who has a passion for birds:

Vesta lowered the binoculars and set them on the windowsill beside a tulip-shaped sherry glass. She scanned the view unaided, willing its familiar peace to wash over her. It was only a modest one-third acre, tucked between her cozy guest cottage and the owners’ much-larger home, but it held a treasure trove of foliage. Cedars, live oaks, mesquite, several crepe myrtle, a young redbud, an old hollowed-out black walnut stump—destined for destruction by the eager ladder-back and golden-fronted woodpeckers. As well as an array of wispy Texas grasses and flowering sage and salvia, jewel-bright splashes of color irresistible to the native black-chinned hummingbirds and several other species that migrated through South Texas on their way to Mexico. 

The Bluffs cottage was a balm for Vesta’s soul in every season. A peaceful, private haven. And her fourth lease in the fifteen years since she’d sold her own home . . . and begun to hide. 

I’m safe here. Even though . . . 

She picked up the binoculars again, adjusted the focus, and strained to see the slice of San Antonio Street visible beyond the trees. A few cars. None of them police or fire vehicles, though they could have used the Crockett Street route; construction for The Bluffs’ security gates had a good section of the road in upheaval. The evening news assured viewers that the routine investigation was winding down. But was it routine? Or was it . . . arson?

So, how about YOU, is there a soft spot in your heart for birds? A hummingbird feeder in your yard? 


Clari Dees said...

I go through a LOT of sugar at my house with three feeders and about 20 Ruby-throated hummers. At the first of the season I was filling the feeders once a day (they hold about 2-1/2 cups of liquid apiece), but at the moment, I'm filling about every other day.

The greedy little things will actually come and look in the windows when a feeder is empty, and they'll even eat from the feeder when I'm holding it. I've been accused of creating addicts. (You know they say sugar is more addictive than cocaine. ;-)

They get so crazy/active of an evening, that it sounds like miniature jets in an old-time dogfight when you're standing near the feeders. Visitors to our porch are always surprised at how many birds we have. :-)

Oh, and I feed all the other birdies, too.

Connie Brown said...

I must confess that I love to watch the birds. I don't have a way to hang feeders now. I'm off the route for the hummers. My dad used to make up lots of food for them. They hovered and looked at us accusing us of forgetting to fill the feeders sometimes. They would fight for the feeders. One would pick a feeder and would spend more time protecting it than eating. I miss them. The house burned and now it's been too long since I even tried to feed them. I have feed the birds and squirrels bird seed especially during the winter. Our winters aren't bad but sometimes it's cold and barren.

Anne Payne said...

I love birds! We put up our first feeders this spring and had so many sweet little birdies. I took tons of photos :) I just bought a hummingbird feeder and so glad to see your water recipe. I will make it tomorrow!

CandaceCalvert said...

Clairi, I LOVE that! Great descrption of the hummingbird "dogfights," and I'm so envious that they practically eat ouf your hands. We have Anna's here, and they do come peek in the windows and sort of grumble if the feeder is low. What a joy they are.
Thanks for stopping by to share.

CandaceCalvert said...

Connie, isn't it amazing how birds (and other garden creatures) can become alomst like pets? We sure feel that way.

CandaceCalvert said...

Glad you'll be able to use the recipe, Anne! I've seen some of your photos on your FB page--love them. There's something so special about birds, and so peaceful and relaxing to watch them. God's gift.