Hummingbird fanatics are everywhere in the birder community. Here are five special people who are fully devoted to their hummingbird hobbies.
By Kirsten Sweet
Hummingbird fanatics will do everything possible to make a sanctuary for their favorite fliers.
Webster's dictionary defines a fanatic as someone "marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense, uncritical devotion."
My assignment for this special issue was to find and write about a hummingbird fanatic. No problem, right? I started by searching the Internet, hoping to find a few hummingbird fans.
I was completely blown away by the results. I found photographers, clubs, various hummingbird projects and plenty of people with a simple love for these birds.
These real people from all over the country are involved with hummingbirds in a variety of ways. I couldn't possibly pick just one, so meet my five favorite hummingbird fanatics.
Lanny Chambers of St. Louis, Missouri runs a Web site completely devoted to hummingbirds. In 1995, he wanted to teach himself HTML (the language of Web pages), and noticed there were no informational sites about hummingbirds.
He searched libraries for credible information about hummingbirds to fill his site.
Lanny maintains the site on his own, even though it has become a major hummingbird resource on the Web. It has a migration map, which he updates daily with sightings sent to him by the site's readers. It's a lot of work, but Lanny says it's worth it.
"It helps engage people with nature, and helps people be better stewards of hummingbirds," he says. "Hummingbirds make people happy, and it's satisfying to help that happen."
Not only is Lanny at the helm of one of the largest hummingbird Web sites, he's a licensed bander as well. He bands about 400 hummingbirds per year, and has personally seen 18 different species.
Kristin Williams of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania expresses her love for hummingbirds by creating one-of-a-kind feeders. Her original motivation for these feeders grew from frustration with a store-bought feeder that didn't work.
"I had a desire to create a better design that was both botanically authentic and beautiful," Kristin says.
Each of her feeder designs are based on real flowers like four-o'clocks, lobelias and catchflies. She sells the feeders on the popular craft Web site, Etsy.
The hummingbirds love the simplicity of the feeders, and what better way to attract them than with real-looking flowers?
Linda Beall of Covington, Louisiana has been a licensed bander since 2000. Since then, she's banded nearly 7,500 hummingbirds. For Linda, feeding and banding these birds is a passion.
She's working now, but Linda used to spend about 20 hours per week banding, entering data and feeding hummingbirds. She participates in banding demonstrations at festivals and for groups, and is an advocate for educating people about hummingbirds.
"Being able to allow people, especially children, to see hummingbirds up close gives me so much pleasure," Linda says. "And I get to see their reaction after a banded hummingbird flies away from the palm of their hands. It's an experience I hope stays with them forever."
The science of banding is what really excites Linda. Gathering and analyzing data is an important part of hummingbird research. And it's from that research that banders like Linda learn how faithful and long-lived hummingbirds actually are.
Joe Dellwo of Orange County, California discovered a hummingbird nest in his yard several years ago. The rose bush near his front patio is now the permanent home of a female Allen's hummingbird.
Joe has never done anything to attract hummingbirds, and didn't even have a feeder until last year. He was just lucky enough to spot the hummer in his yard.
Intrigued by what he found, he kept climbing ladders to get a good look at the nest.
"After a few years, I realized she was going to keep returning, so I finally bought a wireless camera to watch the action live," Joe says.
Now, he streams the hummingbird's antics live on the Internet. People from all over the world visit his site each day to watch the hummer on her nest.
Maureen Lynn of Montague, New Jersey is the perfect definition of a hummingbird fanatic. She's been feeding hummingbirds for nearly 25 years. At the height of the season in August, Maureen has up to 40 hummingbirds in her yard.
"There is nothing like standing alongside a feeder with a large group of hummingbirds buzzing around you," she says. "It's like a circus, especially just before dusk, when the hummingbirds are in a feeding frenzy."
She also loves photographing hummingbirds and says dusk is the best time to snap because they are so busy, they hardly notice someone nearby.
To attract hummingbirds to your yard and keep them there, Maureen recommends keeping feeders full and clean. And for those of you having a hard time attracting hummingbirds, she says persistence is the key.
"Keep trying, even if you think there aren't any around," she says. "Once a hummingbird is established in your yard, chances are it will return."