Feathers In Your Grill: Hummingbird Mask Facializes Birding

Mar 4, 2011· 1 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.
Facetime with a facemask. (Photo: Heatstick.com)

In the old world order of birding, binocular-strapped birders flocked to winged flyers to behold them hovering in backyards, soaring over swamps, or fluttering through forests.

But, compliments of a simple invention from Doyle Doss, a wildlife photographer in Eureka, California, the paradigm might be shifting.

Are you ready to slide your noggin into Eye 2 Eye, a hummingbird feeder mask?

Doss tells TakePart that the genesis of the mask can be traced back to an incident in the 1970s.

“I had a big, red beard at the time,” says Doss. “One Sunday morning, I stepped outside and a male Anna’s hummingbird came down right in front of my face and hovered there.”

Fast-forward to four or five years ago when, after a few of hummingbirds began to frequent a eucalyptus tree on his property, Doss thought to himself: “How could I share that intimate experience with everyone?”

Two factors—call ’em hummingbird catnip—are essential to the mask’s effectiveness: its red color and the presence of sugar water in a special feeding tube between the eyes.

“Hummingbirds are attracted to red,” says Doss, “but they won’t come back if there’s nothing to eat.”

Once the birds find a reliable source of nectar, they will protect it from other birds. “They’re very territorial, and like an alcoholic, you don’t want to get between them and the bottle,” says Doss.

To those who do purchase one of the hand-crafted masks, Doss stresses patience. The mask should first be placed outside for a few days to allow the birds to get used to it.

While individual birders are quite excited about the mask, Doss says that larger birding organizations, like the National Audubon Society or Birds and Blooms, have yet to contact him.

To date, he has sold over 600 masks. The retail price is $79.95.