I'm thinking that most of us hummingbirders are very much alike in this manner. When the hummingbirds start showing up, we do the frequent glancing at each of the feeder locations, hundreds of times throughout the day to see if there's one around. As a matter of fact, I find myself glancing at the feeders well after they've gone south. It just becomes a habit. Every task you do, there's the brief glance, and if you've got several feeders like I do, it becomes a routine instead of just a simple glance. But this routine was lacking one crucial glance every 30 to 60 seconds. It was missing a glance toward the fountain. I realized this a couple years back. Something caught my eye at the fountain, which was about 75 ft away. After staring at it for a few moments, I caught the movement, and it was our little Gunner (male Ruby throat). It made me question whether I had missed many opportunities of him at the fountain. So I started adding the additional glance to the fountain as well as the feeders, within my routine. From that moment on, that additional step paid off. Sure enough, it was several times throughout the day that Gunner would be at the fountain. Whether sitting and relaxing, gardening, or walking the trails I would make a point to frequently look at the fountain as well. I realized over time just how much he used the fountain. It definitely increased the entertainment, and gave me far more photo opportunities. It didn't matter what time of day. However, I did notice him often times very early in the morning, even with temperatures as low as 0 to 5°c. I would have chills going through me, but he'd be splashing around and taking advantage of the fountain before all the other birds started to use it. There was the 4 pm rush at the peak of the heat of day where he would avoid it, just because all the other birds were lined up and fighting over it.
So for those that are questioning a water feature, provide one with shallow water and start adding a glance to your routine toward the feature, and you may just be surprised how often they use it.
This is our little Gunner. Even though he may drink some of the water, it becomes and necessary part of his day in controlling mites. It appears as though he's snorkeling and blowing bubbles, but mites gather around the base of the bill, and it's not uncommon to frequently see them scratching like a dog with fleas, and dipping their bill entirely under water to rid themselves of the little pests. May 2021, N.E. of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.