The Nature Center at Lake Hope State Park is well-known as the place to go if you want to try hand-feeding hummingbirds. This seasonal activity typically begins in July. This year park officials will continue to host the hand-feeding sessions on Thursday through Sunday from 1 to 3 PM until Labor Day.
This was the first time Bob and I had tried hand-feeding hummingbirds, and we both loved it. It is fascinating to watch hummingbirds perform their aerial acrobatics, but it was even more amazing to have these wild, little creatures come right up to us to accept our offerings of nectar. We could feel the wind from their rapid wing beats on our hands.
Bob and I each got a feeding tube for the hummingbirds, but we ended up taking turns so that one of us held the feeding tubes while the other took photographs.
The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only hummingbird that nests in our state. Surprisingly every single hummingbird that we photographed was a female.
In addition to photographing the hummingbirds, we also took a video of them as they fed from my hands. Since two females are jostling for position, you can watch as they attempt to chase each other away. You can also hear the hummingbirds vocalizing.
Direct link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq1NWmESxXw
Hints for Feeding the Birds
The environment around the Nature Center has been made as enticing to hummingbirds as possible. There are both flowers and hummingbird feeders all over the place. Then during the prescribed time the center’s naturalist takes down all the hummingbird feeders and hands out nectar-filled tubes to park visitors.
The naturalist said that visitors had the better success in feeding the hummingbirds when they sat near the building. In addition she recommended that we hold the feeding tubes in the sunlight rather than in the shade because the bright light accentuated the red color of the pipe cleaners that are wrapped around the tubes. We arranged our chairs so that we were sitting in the shade of the building while our hands were in the sun.
Some people hold their feeding tubes up toward the sky in an attempt to entice the birds. The problem in doing this is that your arm soon becomes tired. Because these are wild creatures it is important to not fidget a lot, or you will scare them away. We had a lot of success in just resting our arms against our legs, so we could stay still for a longish time.
We did sit there for what seemed like a long time before hummingbirds started coming over to us, but it was well worth the wait. There were a number of children participating in the hand-feeding, and I think this could be a lot of fun for a child. The only catch is that your child has to stay still and be patient until a hummingbird decides to come over, and this may be hard for some kids to do. It might help if you let your child know what to expect before hand.
We held our feeding tubes with the ends tilted away from us. This may have made approaching the feeding tubes less intimidating, but it also brought the liquid inside closer to the opening, making it easier for the bird to reach the nectar.
Visitors have the option of making a small donation to support the Nature Center inside the building.
- TrekOhio: Vinton County Parks & Nature Preserves; Lake Hope is located in this county. Check out this page for links to the park’s official website and to learn about nearby parks.
- Lake Hope State Park’s Facebook page: Lake Hope State Park
- ODNR: Ruby-throated Hummingbird
- About.com: How to Hand Feed Hummingbirds – Tips for Hand Feeding Hummingbirds in Your Backyard
- PBS.org: Infographic: All About Hummingbirds; includes all sorts of interesting information about hummingbirds, such as the fact that they have the largest brain relative to their body weight of all birds.
- TrekOhio: Lake Hope State Park: this is a more general description of Lake Hope; after feeding the hummingbirds, there are lots of things to do there, including having a delicious meal at the Lake Hope Dining Lodge.
The Nature Center is located at the arrow in the map below. Take 278 and turn on to Furnace Ridge Road. Before you come to the Nature Center, there is a gravel parking lot on the right-hand side of the road. The Nature Center is a short walk north from here on the left-hand side of the road.