John Creed has been fascinated with hummingbirds since he was a boy spending summers at the family’s cabin in Westcliff, Colorado. Hummingbirds swarmed the deck that was lined with feeders and he was entranced. When he wasn’t watching them, he was learning as much as he could about them—the different species, their habits and migration patterns. When he saw a television documentary about them, he could see every tiny detail as the cameras zoomed in and as they filmed the birds’ antics in slow motion. John was determined to find a way to watch hummingbirds that up close and personal. The result was the HummViewer.
John started with a welding mask, fake flowers and rubber tubing. When he tried it out, the birds passed him by at first, then they became curious, then they stopped long enough to take a sip of nectar. He continued tweaking the mask and, by trial and error, he created the HummViewer. He could observe the birds so close that he felt the wind from their wings and saw their very long forked tongues reach deep into the tube for the nectar. He watched as they jockeyed for position to get to the flowers, and he noticed that the friendly birds were watching him, looking him straight in the eye as if to say, “S’up?”
For the superstitious among us, seeing a hummingbird is a sign of renewed hope at the end of a difficult time or a sign that the spirit of a deceased loved one is near.
- John perfected the HummViewer for the safety of both humans and birds. A sturdy, adjustable, clear plastic shield with three pre-drilled holes holds the flowers and feeding tubes. The shield is attached to a helmet lined with thick rubber for maximum comfort.
- 3 bright red feeder flowers resemble the calla lily, the hummingbirds’ favorite for its plentiful nectar.
- 3 feeder tubes.
- A bulb to use for filling the feeder tubes with nectar.*
- Brushes to clean the tubes and a microfiber cloth to clean the mask.
- Cloth bag to store the HummViewer.
* You can easily make nectar at a fraction of the cost of commercial nectar and without artificial flavoring, red dyes and preservatives. The mixture that most closely approximates the natural sucrose level of flower nectar is: One part granulated table sugar to four parts tap water.
HummViewer TV Debut
John contacted Denver’s NBC affiliate news station 9NEWS to see if they would be interested in the HummViewer for their series “The Most Colorado Thing We Saw Today.” They certainly were! A reporter and photographer went to the family cabin where John was hosting his annual “adult camp” with his childhood friends. They played like they were kids again, walking the slack line, playing ladder ball, and hiking, and simply hung out reminiscing about the good old days. But the highlight of the weekend was watching the hummingbirds with the HummViewer. That segment of the news was voted one of the “9 Most Inspiring Stories” of the year.
Hummingbirds surely are among the most fascinating birds to watch. Their antics are a breathtaking miniature “Cirque du Soleil.” Their jewel-tone (emerald green, coppery orange, iridescent red, sapphire blue) feathers glitter in the sunlight, while they do their impossible acrobatics, their wings beating 20 times a second (100 times a second when mating), whizzing by to stop mid-flight on a dime, flying straight up or straight down, hovering in place. They are the only birds that can fly backwards due to their wings’ ability to move in a figure-eight pattern. The show is underscored by the music—a harmonious montage of the humming of their wings, short and soft chirps or long and harsh chirps, depending on the mood of any particular hummingbird.
During COVID, HummViewers were produced without the flowers and tubes and given to local healthcare workers when masks were in short supply.