The hummingbirds are on their way.
In our area, put feeders out in mid-March to mark feeding areas for the migratory scouts. Hummingbirds feed by sight on regularly-followed routes - called traplining - their inquisitive nature will quickly lead them to investigate any possible new source of food. Remember, feeders should be a supplemental food source to nature’s nectar supplying plants.
WHAT DO I PUT IN THE FEEDERS?Here is how Penn State Extension suggests to make “nectar” for your feeder. Mix 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Bring water to a boil and pour over sugar. Stir solution and let cool to room temperature before pouring into the feeder. Extra nectar may be stored in the refrigerator.
Replace the sugar solution every three to five days and clean the feeder before adding a new supply. Wash the feeder thoroughly with soap; you can use a weak bleach solution to sterilize the feeder. Vinegar may be used to clean feeders too. Be sure to rinse thoroughly with hot water to get rid of the vinegar. Remove the plastic flowers and scrub inside them with a small brush. Make sure to rinse all parts thoroughly before refilling with sugar solution.
|Hummingbird at Tithonia (Torch)|
Create a natural habitat in your yard that includes nectar-rich flowering plants, vines, shrubs, and trees. Even a window box can help. Hummingbirds especially like red tubular flowers. Bee balm, bleeding heart, coral bells, fuchsia, geraniums, petunia (red ones are like magnets at my house as is the Nicotiana), nasturtiums, morning glories and more. Penn State has a good list.
|Hummingbird perched on a shepherd's crook|
All birds need a continuous source of water. For hummingbirds, a drip fountain or misting device is ideal. They will not only drink but will bathe in it.
Although they seem to be always on the go, provide perching spots by including shrubs or trees. There are hummingbird perches and swings you can buy but they are not necessary.If your yard is safe and attractive, you’ll increase your chances of attracting nesting birds. They are not cavity dwellers and won’t use birdhouses. Plants that provide shelter from the sun, wind and rain are also ideal spots for hummingbird nests.
|Nesting hummingbird (Hummingbirds.net)|
Offer nesting material (cotton fibers, gather down from dandelions, thistles or cattails, yarn, string, thread, and even human hair) near feeders. If there's a nest nearby, minimize activity in that area. A few muddy spots in the yard near the feeder may help, too.
WHAT OTHER THINGS SHOULD I CONSIDER?Always eliminate pesticides as much as possible. Hummingbirds need protein, which they get from consuming spiders and small insects. If you use pesticides for these insects they will get into the hummingbird food chain.
Encourage your neighbors to have hummingbird-friendly yards. Creating a swath of good habitat through the neighborhood not only supports the birds but provides a natural setting for bird watching.
Place feeders and water sources away for cats the same as you would for other bird feeders.
As the days get shorter and daylight decreases, hormonal changes in hummingbirds cause them to migrate. Leaving your feeder up longer at the end of the season will not cause them to stay around longer than they should.Leave your feeder up for about two weeks after your hummingbirds have left for the season. This will provide nectar for any birds that get late start on migration. If you go two weeks without seeing a hummingbird in September or October, it’s a good sign you can take the feeder down.
If you live in the southeastern U.S., leaving your feeder out until at least Thanksgiving may attract one of the atypical Rufus or other hummingbirds that are reported more and more often each winter.Don’t forget to clean it thoroughly before storing.
SOME INTERESTING FACTSHummingbirds do not suck nectar through their long bills, they lick it with fringed, forked tongues.
A hummingbird’s maximum forward flight speed is 30 miles per hour, though the birds can reach up to 60 miles per hour in a dive.
Native American folklore from Peter Guanikeyu Torres, President and Council Chief of the Taino Indigenous Nation of the Caribbean and Florida:“The Taino Native American people were the first people to meet Columbus in 1492. The Hummingbird is the symbol of the spreader of life on the Earth. It also symbolizes the rebirth of the Taino Indian Nation of the Caribbean and Florida. We also call our Warriors, Colibri Warriors (Hummingbird Warriors), as the Hummingbird is very peaceful but, it protects it own homeland with the heart of a Eagle. Our history tells us the small Hummingbirds were at one time small flies that Agueybaba the Sun Father transformed one day into little birds.”
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