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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Made in the Shade

Need + school assignment + hot glue = Invention!

In the Spring our oldest child was required to participate in the school’s Science Fair. The timing was serendipitous. Only a week before I had noticed that our hummingbird feeder was becoming moldy as the weather warmed up. The feeder is in direct sunlight but I didn’t want to change its location because I love seeing the birds from our kitchen table. A solution popped into my head: perhaps we could make a tiny umbrella to protect the hummingbird feeder from the warm spring sun. It might save the juice from molding, an experiment that clearly fit the bill for the Science Fair.
 
We used cotton fabric from my sewing stash, bamboo skewers (intended for Shish Kebabs, but hey, they are very versatile materials!), and of course, my favorite adhesive: hot glue!

The umbrella came together nicely and it does its job. It gives just enough shade so that the glass bottle of juice for the birds does not become moldy, but the umbrella isn’t so large that it blocks the birds’ access to the juice. It cost nothing, as we already had the supplies, and it was fun to make.

I wish I had a photo of a bird at the feeder. I tried! I sat at our kitchen table for a while, camera in hand, waiting for the birds to come. Yesterday morning I’d seen a hummingbird at the feeder several times, and I did get one photo, but it didn’t turn out well. These fast fliers stop for only a few seconds to drink, so it’s no easy feat to capture these birds on film. I’ll keep trying and I’ll add the photo here if I ever get one. Hummingbirds do not believe in sitting down to digest their breakfast. Their food is always to go.

After we created our sun shade, I searched online for umbrellas for hummingbirds. I was surprised to see that they existed. Shoot, so much for my completely original idea! But most of the ones I found online were made of glass or metal, with just a few made of plastic or fabric. And none had the jazzy color scheme ours did! Hey, if hummingbirds are attracted to orange and red flowers, isn’t an orange and yellow umbrella likely to catch their eyes, even with their short attention spans? Of course!

I don’t consider myself scientific by nature, but sometimes art and science join hands and the result is an invention that fills a need. The teacher thought we did a good job, and I’m not certain, but I think I saw a humming bird waving a wing at me in approval…

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