James Manzo, who works under the alter ego Hum Daddy, is a park ranger whose love for hummingbirds has encouraged him to create a series of fascinating costumes to attract and feed hummingbirds. His weird and wonderful costumes are designed to help him get as close as possible to the birds. This means he has transformed into everything from a box of chocolates to a cluster of butterflies and even a walking flower bouquet. This “hobby” also gave him the courage to learn how to rehabilitate wildlife in the National Park Service, making him the park ranger he is today. Hum Daddy also emphasizes the importance of public education in ensuring the conservation and longevity of hummingbirds. This is why his work is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Life on Land.  

Floral arrangement costume by Hum Daddy. Image courtesy of @hum.daddy/Instagram.

Hum Daddy documents his colourful costumes in fun, bite-sized videos he shares on social media. He also uses these videos to further educate people about the lives of hummingbirds. In one video, he steps out in a tall Victorian wig and a floral Victorian gown to match. Hum Daddy shares that the costume is an homage to the 19th Century Italian Duchess, Anna Massena, whom the Anna’s Hummingbird species are named after. The species, identifiable by its bright purple neck, is the only hummingbird species to stay in the Northwest and Western hemispheres for winter. It received its name from naturalist René Primevère Lesson, who wanted to honour Anna Massena for her beauty and wits. Hum Daddy also shares that Anna’s Hummingbird is merely one of the 375 species of hummingbirds that exist in the wild, further showcasing his commitment to educating the public.

Anna Massena costume by Hum Daddy. Image courtesy of @hum.daddy/Instagram.

However, as of May 2024, 54 of them have been marked by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as either critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, or near threatened. The biggest cause of their biodiversity loss is the conversion of their native habitats into agricultural land in Central and South America. Climate change and invasive plant species follow closely behind, meaning nearly all that threatens their species are man-made actions.

Red floral arrangement costume by Hum Daddy. Image courtesy of @hum.daddy/Instagram

This is why Hum Daddy’s costumes, videos, and educational content go a long way in cultivating people’s interest in hummingbirds. His work entices the audience’s curiosity and propels them to find out how they, too, can contribute to ensuring that different hummingbird species can flourish. After all, hummingbirds play an important role in the world’s ecosystem. They act as pollinators for various plants, some of which have even specifically evolved to rely on hummingbirds to reproduce. 

Sugar Daddy costume by Hum Daddy. Image courtesy of @hum.daddy/Instagram.

Last but not least, Hum Daddy’s videos also teach people how to leave out hummingbird feeders., a non-profit dedicated to preserving pollinating species, has also shared a quick list that helps people understand the process further. It begins by encouraging people to purchase red-coloured feeders and place them out of predator’s reach. 

“Fill with purified water and 20-30 percent refined (white) sugar (never saccharine, artificial sweeteners, honey, or brown sugar). There is no need to purchase special “hummingbird food,” as this is usually just expensive sugar water. All your feeder should need is white sugar and water,” outlines for those wishing to follow Hum Daddy’s footsteps.

Find out more about Hum Daddy’s costumes and their other initiatives by checking their Instagram on @hum.daddy.

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