My wife put out a hummingbird feeder this year. We spent more time in the yard last summer, and noticed the birds buzzing around more than we had before. So, this summer, we figured we’d set out a meal for them and see what happened.

She knew the idea would be an easy sell with me. I’ve always liked hummingbirds. When I was young, the only place I saw them was in Baton Rouge, when we’d visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and assorted other relatives. My grandmother loved hummingbirds and had a feeder hanging outside their house, by the bay window in the breakfast nook. I’d watch them come up and eat while I was eating, fascinated by the jewel tones in their feathers and the speed with which they moved.

My parents said hummingbirds didn’t come far enough north for us to see them. I know now it was more likely that they simply maintained higher numbers to the south. The chance to see some this summer and bring back some warm memories was welcome.

The first visitor we got this year wasn’t a hummingbird, though. I was floored to walk out one day and see a Baltimore Oriole at the hummingbird feeder. So we got an oriole feeder to hang beside the one for hummingbirds, and it has done quite a business this year.

Oriole

The orioles were a surprise this year, but have made for some fun evenings with the camera.

We found the orioles will come in to eat oranges, but that they love jelly. It’s a rare day when we don’t see several, and those are just the ones that visit while we’re watching. The evidence says we’re getting many more.

It’s not just orioles, either. Purple finches are regulars. And on Friday morning one gave me quite a surprise.

I’ve gotten used to leaving for work carefully, trying not to startle any birds on the feeder. I’m not always successful. But this time I spotted the birds before they spotted me. One was an adult. The other, apparently, was a newly-fledged chick.

The chick flapped and chirped as the parent fed it at the feeder. It certainly wasn’t the image I expected when we set up the feeder, but it was a nice way to begin the day. After a few moments they flew off and I walked out a bit further, only to freeze when a green blur caught my eye. A hummingbird had been waiting for the bigger birds to leave so it could have breakfast.

It wasn’t quite the same as in Baton Rouge, when the birds were separated by just the window. But it was nice to see the hummingbirds visiting. It took a quick snack, then flew away.

Hopefully it will dry out in June. I’ve been thinking of ways to set up my camera with by biggest telephoto lens to get photos. It has worked for the orioles, but the hummingbirds have eluded me so far.

Now if I could only figure out a way to get the eagles to cooperate so well in the winter …

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.