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"Hummingbirds like the Tejas best!"...

Sam Chiodo  1914 - 2004

Continued 26 years stewardship of "Tejas Hummingbird Feeder... 1995-2021

 

 

Sam Chiodo's "Tejas Hummingbird Feeder" came along in the early 1970s and was a descendant of what was recently determined to be the original "Texas Style" hummingbird feeder, created in the early 1930s.  This history follows below...

 

1st Commercially Available Hummingbird Feeder in the USA

Legion Hospital Hummingbird Feeder, 1932

      

W. R. (Robert) Sullivan, Legion, Texas

It would not have been possible to discover the story of this hummingbird feeder had it not been for the "W. R. Sullivan Papers", containing Correspondence, Newspaper Clippings, and Photos gifted to U. T. Briscoe Center of American History, possibly by family members.  And, what an interesting story this is. Sullivan was a many year Tuberculosis (TB) patient at V.A. Legion Hospital, Legion (Kerrville), Texas.

Among his correspondence, he states several times that he created//invented his hummingbird feeder in 1932 in the V.A. Legion Hospital "Occupational Therapy Shop".  He goes on to say that he advertised the Legion Hospital Hummingbird Feeder in Kerrville, Texas through a community Flyer which read, "Remember, a bird-feeder and look-see for one dollar and a pint size 'Heinz vinegar bottle' - - if you have one that you can spare."  Through this Flyer he invited the community to visit the Shop to purchase a feeder and view the hummingbirds.  He also made use of Legion Hospital I.V. bottles for his feeders, but generally relied on the Heinz vinegar bottles gathered from the community.

Sullivan was an early investigator of "hummingbird banding" before there were 'bands' small enough for hummingbirds.  Also, as an amateur scientific migratory bird collector, he secured state and federal permits to collect and supply small numbers of Legion Hospital Black-chinned hummingbirds to aviaries.  He sent hummingbirds to both New York Zoological Park (Bronz Zoo), and Forest Park Zoo (Fort Worth, Texas Zoo) in the 1940s.  His delivery of hummingbirds to New York Zoological Park in July 1941 was accomplished through a "very special favor" granted to the New York Zoological Park by Eastern Air Lines through its newly established business, "Air Express" from San Antonio,Texas airport to La Guardia Airport in NYC.

ca. 1950s...

Prentiss Swayze Hummingbird Feeder

Seventy (70) years ago an old timer in Kerrville, Texas -- Prentiss Swayze -- manually produced a derivative of the Legion Hospital Hummingbird Feeder by attaching 'old glass I.V. bottles' to Scotch Tape tins'.  He worked many years at Kerrville's old U. S. Post Office until retirement.  He produced this descendant of the V.A. Legion Hospital Hummingbird Feeder in his spare time.  It was in this review by Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine where Prentiss Swayze was first mentioned in April 2002. This story was confirmed later by Joe Herring, Kerrville historian, in this January 2014 story.  Although, the Prentiss Swayze Feeder was not the "original" Texas Style hummingbird feeder, as this distinction falls to the V.A. Legion Hospital Hummingbird Feeder.

Trivia... Prentiss Swayze was uncle to actor Patrick Swayze who was fond of Kerrville, Texas where he boarded several of his Arabian horses.

ca. 1970s...

Tejas Hummingbird Feeder

Sam Chiodo lived in the Frio Canyon a Leakey, Texas, west of Kerrville, Texas.  His contribution to the continued development of the Texas Style hummingbird feeder was to introduce mechanical devices in the production of the hummingbird feeder.

Sam took his idea to his neighbor, Freddie Franks... a local genius with a lathe, and together began to assemble an assortment of "Rube Goldberg" machines to create the Tejas Hummingbird Feeder.  Creating the Tejas Hummingbird Feeder involves a twelve (12) step process... each step utilizing one of the many "Rube Goldberg" machines designed to fashion the Tejas Hummingbird Feeder.

In 1995 the Lewises (Harriet and Marion) stumbled upon the Tejas Hummingbird Feeder. It's been said that "you have to have a hobby to retire to"... so the Tejas Feeder was a great candidate, and who wouldn't be excited about continuing a tradition like this!

Since 1995, the Tejas hummingbird feeder has been 'tweaked' only a bit, as this handcrafted "metal" feeder has already stood the test of time. In 1999 the Tejas acquired new graphics (label) including hummer food recipe. For sturdiness, a brass grommet was inserted between closure (cap) and top of red feeder base for a more secure fit of the glass bottle.

Late 2009 finds the Tejas hummingbird feeder 'tweaked' once again!  After many years of searching, a sturdy aluminum metal 'screw cover' component was discovered, to be used in construction of  the "new-style" Tejas hummingbird feeder base.  Beginning spring 2010 the Tejas Hummingbird Feeder features a screw cover feeder base, allowing the hummingbird feeder base to be opened for cleaning, and aluminum construction, a remarkable metal for its ability to resist corrosion.  A custom made gasket is included with the screw cover hummingbird feeder base to provide a water tight seal between top and bottom halves of the screw cover hummingbird feeder base.

Regarding honey bees and wasps, always hang hummingbird the feeder in a non-windy location, as wind will cause the hummingbird feeder to 'swing', breaking vacuum inside bottle, allowing sugar water solution in feeder base to rise to level reachable by honey bees and wasps.

So after 50 plus years, still only a few changes have occurred to the Tejas Hummingbird Feeder... and in a changing world, that's not so bad!

Sam Chiodo passed away Saturday, July 3, 2004 at his home in Kerrville, Texas.  He was 90 years old. The street he lived on in Leakey is named Hummingbird Hill Lane in honor of his love for hummingbirds.

 






























































Heinz 16 oz.Vinegar Bottle                   
    ca. 1930s
















"New-Style" screw cover Tejas      


"1970 Original Tejas"


"32oz. & 16oz. Tejas Today"

 

 

 

 

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