Hummingbirds at Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary

Hummingbird, up close but not doing anything

Back in the 30s, 6,000 hummingbirds at a time buzzed the Dorothy  May Tucker Bird Sanctuary in Orange, County, CA. Dorothy and her husband Ben perfected the hummingbird feeder and created a national spectacle in what they called the Hummingbird Cafeteria. When I went recently I got to see just a handful of hummingbirds, but the sanctuary has branched out to include other birds, too.

In 1946 Popular Mechanics did a story on the incredible invention of the hummingbird feeder. For the first feeders, Ben took a cactus flower–preferably red–and cut off the back. Then he impaled the flower on a straw, which he stuck in a beaker of sugar water. The magazine gleefully reports that “once he’s sampled the syrup, he’s yours. After a few days he’ll drink from the test tube without a flower.” I guess that explains those clumsy yellow flowers on all red hummingbird feeders–and why they work so poorly.

The sanctuary doesn’t just get hummingbirds. They set out seed for scrub jays, titmice, sparrows and spotted towee.

Popular Mechanics, 1948

Now you can visit the sanctuary named after him in Orange County, CA, and since it’s totally full of hummingbird and other feeders, you’ll almost certainly see at least one. And you get to sit in the coolest bird blind–a big porch smothered in vines that hide the bleachers. After Dorothy died, Ben donated the special place to California Audubon, which eventually gave it to Cal State Fullerton. During WWII they got special permission to keep using sugar, then scarce, to feed the birds.

They’re best known as a field trip destination, but they’ve got all kinds of events and festivals for hummingbirds, bats and butterflies. Bat night is coming up Oct. 23.

The sanctuary is near Saddleback Church and at the end of Modjeska Canyon Road, a curvy, horsey drive through an oak forest that miraculously shows up in the middle of the desert.
Where to See Odd Birds

Related posts:


2 comments to Hummingbirds at Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Linda

    I have a humming bird nest in my yard and one of the babies flew away on July 4th but the other one can’t fly.
    I think there is a problem with his wing he gets out of his nest to a branch about 2″ higher and when he falls
    out of the nest he buzz’s around well just can’t fly. Can he be put in a bird cage and I just put one of the humming
    bird feeders on it? Right now the mom or dad keeps coming to feed it so I keep putting it back in the nest. I put a tarp
    down to catch his fall which works well. But I’m just worried that a lizard or cat might get to him before I do. I
    feel like I have another baby lol. He gets on my finger he’s very cute. I’m just worried about him everytime I go
    out that he well get out of the yard. He did yesterday while I was out. Thanks for any information you can give me.
    I also live near Saddleback Church.

  • vicki

    Please help I found an injured hummingbird. Where can I take him to be cared for?
    Thanks, Vicki
    (805) 216-8499