DEAR JOAN: I've been feeding the hummingbirds from my patio in the same Palo Alto location for more than 10 years now.
Ms. McClellan of Saratoga, who wrote regarding how often her feeders need refilling presently, is probably experiencing what it is like to feed the migratory hummers that pass through our area each fall and spring.
Her Saratoga neighbors probably need to refill their feeders as often during these several weeks while the birds fatten up before moving south.
This year almost a half-gallon of nectar is needed daily to keep my feeders full. Last year with a local "bully" bird living in the area it was much less. In the first years, sometimes a dozen would feed at once, but after several years a local bird kept chasing other migrating birds away.
I kept trying to find a setup to discourage that behavior, and this year after adding another three feeders the bully is finally cowed.
Overcome by trying to chase birds from so many feeders, it has stopped being so possessive.
Today there were 14 hummers feeding at once. There's lots of action as they work on a pecking order, but no one bird hogs all the feeders anymore. Seeing the transients again is fun.
It will quiet down any day or week now as winter shows more and the migrating birds finish their trips south. Just a few hummingbirds stay over winter locally, and nectar needs will drop.
Then in the spring there will be another, shorter surge of feeding needed on the hummingbirds' migration north.
DEAR GAVIN: Hummingbirds are some of the most entertaining birds we can have in our yards, well worth the effort to keep those feeders full.
Thanks for the tips on how to deal with a bully hummer. I've had some letters from folks who have one in their yard. Looks like the secret is to overwhelm him.
The Sunshine Rescue Group is having a Halloween adopt-a-thon and bake sale at 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Bayfair Petsmart in San Leandro.
The bake sale will benefit the group's medical fund that pays for the treatment of sick or injured homeless cats that struggle to survive on their own.
The cats and kittens rescued, treated and cared for by the Sunshine Rescue Group that are now healthy will be available for adoption at reduced rates. All cats have been spayed or neutered and are current on their vaccinations.
For more information, contact the Sunshine Rescue Group at 510-483-4599.
Paws In Need, a pet rescue group, is having a Halloween photo session for pets, families and children, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 2 in the garden area of Milfleur, a gift shop at Pleasanton's historic Kottinger Barn, 200 Ray St.
Dress up your pet and have a professional portrait made by Sierra Photography. Photos are $15, and the first 100 photos will include a decorative folder.
Dogs must be on a leash and all other pets in carriers. Face painting for children will also be featured for $4.
Proceeds will benefit Paws in Need, a group that focuses on reducing dog and cat overpopulation through spaying and neutering, and on paying for emergency care when owners can't afford veterinary treatment.
Contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org.