By Paul A. Thomas University of Georgia Volume XXVIII Number 1 Page 16 Hummingbirds overwinter in Central and South America. Our ruby-throated hummingbirds return to most parts of Georgia in March (in Atlanta, around March 20). So that’s the time to dust off the feeders.Three-step successFollow three simple steps to get hummingbirds to feed, nest and raise young in your yard. Buy six to eight feeders per half-acre of land. Place two or three in the open sunshine or near windows to attract males. A feeder on the west, south and east sides of the house work well. Each will be visited most when the sun is on it. Place the other feeders in the canopy of trees. The preferred height is 10 to 15 feet. You can do this by hanging a set of “S” hooks on the branches and using a pole with a hook at the end to raise the feeder.The reason behind this is simple. Males doggedly defend their feeder, making it very hard for the females and young to feed. Females, though, search for nectar in treetops in tropical jungles and are much more comfortable feeding in semiprivacy in the canopy. Without fail, our hummingbirds nest within 15 to 20 feet of the feeders in the canopy. They prefer dogwoods, hickory and oak.Simple maintenanceThe simple maintenance rule is to fill each feeder half full and then clean and replace the sugar water every other day. Hummingbirds won’t use old, cloudy, rotten sugar water. They may leave your garden in disgust.Given eight feeders, keeping feeders fresh can be a chore if not tasked properly. We found that filling four feeders every day after dinner as part of kitchen cleanup works great, especially if you have kids that help out.The birds get comfortable with the pattern, and since we all eat dinner, it’s easier to stay on task during a busy week.Nectar recipeOf the several recipes for sugar water, the one we recommend is 1 part sugar to 3 parts water. This makes a 25-percent sucrose solution, very similar to the sugar content of phlox, salvia and buckeyes. Nectar-producing flowers usually range between 20-percent and 25-percent sugar. A 4-to-1 ratio is fine, but it may not have the draw a more concentrated solution has. We don’t add anything else. We make up 1-gallon batches, boil it just a few minutes, let it cool and store it in the refrigerator. A gallon supplies eight feeders for two weeks on our cleaning-feeding schedule.”Tipping” their waitersMy wife and I have been feeding hummingbirds for 13 years in Athens. Each year we see circumstantial evidence that the birds try to get our attention when their feeders are low.This is particularly true in drought. They hover around our heads when we’re working in the yard and outside windows, chirping loudly when we emerge from the house. I’ve seen two or three hover or sit patiently in a nearby branch while my wife changes the feeders.Dependence buildsThe best way to look at feeding any wildlife is that once you start, you’re changing their behavior,and they depend on you for the rest of the season.Males set up territories that include food sources. Females may even take food sources into account when selecting a mate’s territory.Eliminating that source of food (say, during the hottest part of July during your three-week vacation) will likely put stress on the birds. This is particularly true if the birds are raising young or you don’t have other sources of nectar and small insects, such as a butterfly-hummingbird garden or a nearby creek. Be sure to have someone feed the birds in your absence, or they may find another garden to call home.
Other leading hopes for the home team include Nicky Henderson’s RSA Chase winner Champ, the Philip Hobbs-trained two-mile star Defi Du Seuil and Vinndication from Kim Bailey’s yard. Dual winner Clan Des Obeaux is one of 24 entries for the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton.Trainer Paul Nicholls has claimed a record 11 victories in the festive highlight, five of which were delivered by the brilliant Kauto Star between 2006 and 2011.- Advertisement – Mullins has a trio of contenders as he bids to land the King George for the first time since the popular Florida Pearl struck gold in 2001 – with triple Grade One winner Kemboy joined by a pair of high-class novices from last term in Allaho and Melon.Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies, the Henry de Bromhead-trained Monalee and The Storyteller from Gordon Elliott’s yard complete the potential raiding party. The last Irish-trained winner was Tom Taaffe’s Kicking King in 2005.Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation disappointed in last year’s King George, after winning the Betfair Chase at Haydock, but bounced back to finish third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.- Advertisement – He has since saddled both Silviniaco Conti (2013 and 2014) and Clan Des Obeaux (2018 and 2019) for victory in back-to-back renewals, and looks set to play a strong hand once again.Nicholls’ Cyrname was a hot favourite for last year’s renewal – and although he was ultimately well-beaten by his stable companion, he bounced back to his best with an impressive display in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last weekend.The Ditcheat trainer has already confirmed the pair are likely to renew rivalry on Boxing Day – and he has also entered Frodon and Real Steel, who was formerly trained by Willie Mullins in Ireland.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –
After impressive wins against Alaska and honing in on their fundamentals, Wisconsin men’s hockey will return to the Kohl Center this weekend to host conference leader Michigan.While the Wolverines have an impressive track record this season (17-4-4 overall, 8-2-2 conference) compared to the Badgers (6-12-6 overall, 1-7-2 conference), University of Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves isn’t expecting a blowout in either game and hopes to contain a talented Michigan team.Practice this week was held at game speed, and every moment spent on the ice was directed at creating an environment the Badgers could expect against Michigan. But Eaves admitted it’s hard for UW to simulate the talent Michigan has with its speed and strength, though he believes this year’s squad handles the task better than last year’s.“In terms of the pace and how we practiced we did some of those things this week and competed in a lot of one-puck drills so I think in terms of making it as close as we can to game simulation, we did a good job of that,” Eaves said.The simulation reminded Eaves of the first time he met some of the players. Eaves said observing recruits allows him to see more than just the way they physically play the sport.“When you watch young people play you can actually get an x-ray vision of their character — I believe that,” Eaves said.He added that once he gets to know athlete’s families, he can start to get an idea of the type of person they will be on the team.Sophomore Cameron Hughes’ recent surge, two goals and two assists in the Badgers’ last three games, was the first example to come to Eaves’ mind.When Hughes moved to Wisconsin, his entire family came in an RV with him. Eaves and the Badgers were able to greet them.“It was quite obvious that [Hughes’ family] talked about things at home,” Eaves said. “About being selfless, about looking out for your teammate, about making people around you better, so it starts at home. I’ve come to believe that firmly in the years that we have been doing this, and [Hughes] is of that same mold.”This weekend’s matchup will be a testimony to the quality of leadership from not only Hughes, but the entire team. Eaves hopes to continue Wisconsin’s trend of high-scoring games against Michigan. In their last match-up, the Badgers scored 10 goals in the first series of the season.But Eaves stressed that what really makes a difference is a strong defensive team.“Offense wins games, but defense wins champions,” Eaves said. “And if we can tighten that up and continue to get better at that, that’s going to serve us well as we go down the stretch.”