Fierce Little Warriors In The Orchard

Early this morning Craig and I headed to our garden to cut some fresh kale and collards for our daily green drink.

We'd almost reached the garden gate when we noticed that a battle was taking place near one of our Montmorency cherry trees in the back of the orchard. Actually, it was taking place right in the middle of the tree!

We have a bumper crop of cherries on our two Montmorency trees this year, and they've been ripening up very nicely the past couple of weeks. Since the Montmorency variety are not sweet cherries, but are sour or pie cherries, I've been picking cherries and dehydrating them almost daily. They're not tasty for eating fresh, but they're incredibly delicious when dehydrated. I've seen this variety of dehydrated cherries for sale in grocery stores at super expensive prices.

As our cherries were ripening, the yellow fruit was turning orange and red, and I imagine the local bird community was watching with baited breath, awaiting their opportune moment--when the cherries are nice and soft and ripe--to attack! This morning appeared to be "the day" for an onslaught.

But we were prepared! While filming one of our gardening DVDs, we had learned that a great way to protect cherries from the ever-present bird attacks is to place a hummingbird feeder within each cherry tree. Our trees are still not fully grown, so one feeder per tree seems to work well.

So, there at the garden gate we watched to see what would happen. A couple of birds made their move, diving from the sky into the brightly colored tree--and suddenly we saw some tiny warriors go into action! They were zipping around, in and out, up and down…and within seconds the larger birds made a hasty retreat.

Later in the morning, I was back in the garden tying my tomato plants to tall stakes, and I again saw another battle, similar to the first one. This time there seemed to be even more of the tiny warriors, and once again they were victorious! After finishing the tomatoes, I decided I'd better not take our little army for granted so thought I'd give them some relief--I headed over to the cherry tree and picked all of the most tempting cherries. While I was picking, the tiny hummingbirds would come and go, getting as close to me as they dared, still in their warfare mode.

I am so thankful for these little fellows! They have saved me so much work! I don't have to try to put nets on the trees--all I have to do is keep the feeders filled up. Recently one person wrote and told us that they had not been successful with the hummingbird warfare, so there may be situations where it doesn't work. Maybe there aren't many hummingbirds in some areas, but I believe that if you'll place the feeders in the trees a number of weeks before the cherries start to ripen, the hummingbirds in the area will claim their territory before the attacks start--and I think you'll be amazed at how protective and territorial and fierce these little guys can be!

  • Laura Dubcovsky says:

    Amazing story, interesting reading!
    I’ve learned something precious, a secret of nature! Thank you!

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