Like the hummingbird sipping nectar from every flower, I flit joyfully through my days, seeing beauty in everything.

— Amethyst Wyldfyre

Dear Gary:

Over a year ago I was given a hummingbird feeder with hummingbird food.

I mixed it up and put it out. We saw one hummingbird check it out but he never came back. It had red metal flowers and I thought perhaps the metal put them off.

I moved it from place to place, changed the food to honey and water, etc. Couldn't think what else to do. Thought it might have been the feeder in some way.

This year I got a new feeder, a more usual style. Same story. They ignored it completely despite the cold, rain, and lack of flowers in winter.

What is the problem?

Flora Baumann,

cyberspace

Dear Flora:

If they're checking out your feeder and then never coming back, it has to be the nectar you're using.

Hummers are very fussy about how that stuff tastes.

First, you need to immediately stop feeding them honey and water. Wash the feeder with hot water and soap, then rinse thoroughly. Honey is bad because it can cause hummingbirds to develop a fungus infection on their beaks.

The correct food to use is a mix of 4 parts water to 1 part granulated sugar. Boil the water first to kill off any bacteria in the water, let it cool, then add the sugar. This nectar simulates the sugar content of natural nectar that's found in flowers.

Fill up your feeder with this artificial nectar and hang it in an obvious area where you can see it, out of the sun so it doesn't get heated. Put any leftover nectar in the refrigerator.

Let me know how things go and if the hummers are starting to use your feeder, or not.

We'll work this out!

Dear Gary:

Yesterday evening I noticed a large flock of cedar waxwings out in my apple tree.

My tree is full of blossoms, but no apples have appeared yet, even very small ones. Can you tell me what the waxwings were eating? They were there for quite a while, and seemed to be really enjoying themselves.

JoAnne, Orinda

Dear JoAnne:

They were probably eating the blossoms. Apple blossoms, yum!

Spring Fling

  • The Animal Lover's Boutique, located year-around in the lobby of Feline Medical Center, 3160 Santa Rita Road, Pleasanton, will hold a special "Spring Fling for the Animals" event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

    Lots of great dog- and cat-themed gifts, plus a Bargain Bazaar with discounted items, and LOTS more.

    Proceeds from the boutique will benefit Jackie Barnett's Just Like New Fund, a Valley Humane Society program that aids sick and injured pets.

    Muir donor comments

    Notes that came along with donation checks:

  • It is a special pleasure to join with the cities of Lafayette and Walnut Creek in protecting this land. Thank you, Muir Heritage Land Trust. (Edith & Frank Valle-Riestra, Walnut Creek)

  • It's not exactly in my backyard, but it's a backyard of sorts for all of us. Thanks for your efforts — it's so worth it to us and future generations! (Lynn Nieberling, Foster City)

  • I miss so very much hiking in the open spaces with my life partner who passed away 1½ years ago. Please accept this donation in memory of Robert L. Stark. (Sue Stewart, Redwood City)

    Please send your tax-deductible donation to: Muir Heritage Land Trust, Save Our Open Spaces, P.O. Box 2452, Martinez, CA 94553.

    For the wide open spaces!