Senior Staff Writer
Gary McCall has declared his property a hummingbird sanctuary and while it's nearly impossible to say exactly how many hummingbirds he feeds, he has nearly 100 birdfeeders.
"They're territorial with their food, so if you want more hummingbirds to visit, you must put out more birdfeeders," McCall said during a recent visit after many of the birds migrated south. "Thirty to 40 degrees seems to be the temperature when they leave. Last year it was in mid-October."
McCall lives in the north part of Marshall County on Mt. Lebanon Road, east of Laws Hill and west of Haskins Chapel in Bedford County. Mt. Lebanon Road becomes Laws Hill Road (and vice versa) at the Marshall-Bedford Line.
He used to feed all kinds of birds, but stopped when the cost hit $40 a week.
"I've rescued one hummingbird from a spider web, and it was a big spider," McCall said. He brushed the bird off, punched holes in a jar lid and held the bird in the jar overnight, releasing it the next morning.
Originally from Iowa, McCall and his wife, Linda, moved here in 1989 because of GM's Saturn plant in Spring Hill. He retired from GM after 28-1/2 years.
In 2001, he threw a piece of cantaloupe on his compost pile and noticed a humming bird eating fruit flies. He started buying feeders and by 1994, he had 96. He put out 21 gallons of homemade nectar before a two-week trip. When he returned it was almost gone. From that he calculates he fed about 200 hummingbirds.
His recipe for nectar is a cup of sugar in four cups of water.