Greeting hummingbirds

 

According to the ruby-throated migration map hummingbirds are making their way back from South America.  They are just now coming into south Alabama according to the link:

https://www.hummingbirdcentral.com/hummingbird-migration-spring-2020-map.htm?fbclid=IwAR3aKkd353DU5RwEhJHFLtWFsJhgGqmrDhVtrKJQt7gwoDaG5BjjJ6weeAs

If you want hummingbirds, the welcome wagon needs to be waiting on them when they arrive or else they will travel on.  A combination of sugar water and plants will keep them around.  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says there is absolutely no reason to add red dyes to hummingbird nectar. Natural flower nectar is clear. Hummingbird feeders have colorful parts that attract hummingbird.   The red dye will make the hummingbirds weak and unable to fly.  They eventually will die.   It may also cause tumors of their tongues.

Last year I rotated and used twenty feeders.   A good hummingbird feeder recipe that I use:

Boil 4 parts water for 3 minutes

Stir in 1 part pure granulated sugar

Cool to room temperature

Store remaining mix in fridge for 7 to 10 days.  When I first put my feeders up, I’ll use a coffee scoop to make up the sugar water (four scoops water, one scoop sugar).  As the number of birds increase, I’ll use four cups of water and one cup of sugar.   Do not substitute brown sugar. Do not add red nectar, red dye, honey or anything else.  Boiling water not only kills most bacteria and viruses, it also removes many other microorganisms and some chemicals.

Recommended Feeder Schedule change

70°-84°F: Clean feeder and replace nectar every 3 days

85°-87°F: Clean feeder and replace nectar every 2 days

88°F and up: Clean feeder and replace nectar every single day.

More about feeding hummingbirds…

Cloudy nectar indicates bacteria, which is harmful.

Discard nectar, clean the feeder and add fresh clear nectar.

Black residue indicates mold, which is harmful.

Discard nectar, clean the feeder and add fresh clear nectar.

There are several flowers and bushes that are known to attract hummingbirds.  Plants include red shades of daylilies, columbine, penstemon, cardinal flower, bee balm, hibiscus, peony, coral bells, Garden phlox, Oriental Poppy, echinacea (cone flowers), yarrow, annual red salvia, coreopsis.  Perennial Black and Blue salvia even though purple also attracts hummers.  I usually have one hanging around mine protecting it like one of the feeders.  For every one hummingbird you see, it is estimated you have six more in your area.  Most of the hummingbirds in our area are the ruby-throated.  They will guard and fight over feeders.  The ones at my house love Black and Blue Salvia.  They will fight over it like one of the feeders.

If you have ant problems, you can make a home-made ant moat with a spray can cap, wire about 18 inches long, and some waterproof caulk.    Make a small hole in the middle of the cap. Run the wire through the hole, make a loop at each end.  Caulk around the hole inside and out around where the wire goes through the cap.  Dry for a couple of days. Hang with the open end up to hold water to a hook, and hang the feeder from the loop below the moat.  Fill with water and re-fill as needed to prevent ants from getting pass the moat to the feeders.

Females build their nests 10 to 90 feet high, generally in trees or shrubs.  Hummingbirds build velvety, compact cups with spongy floors and elastic sides that stretch as the young grow.  Ruby-throated females attach their nests with spider silk to a small twig or branch that slants downward and covers the outside with greenish-gray lichens. They may lay eggs in a second nest while still feeding the young in the first. The nests are about the size of a quarter and almost impossible to see.  Eggs are about the size of navy beans. Most females lay two eggs, which they incubate for 15 – 18 days.  Young fledge the nest 18 to 28 days after hatching.

Occasionally, I will have one get into the garage and fly along the ceiling.  They are too dumb to see their way back out.  I keep a large aquarium net taped to an old broom handle for those times to scoop them up and take back outside.  The red tail lights of your vehicle and the emergency pull of your opener will attract them.   If you have a lot coming into your garage, it is suggested that you paint the pull a color other than red.

Each late August and early September they make the 3000-mile flight back to South America. An old wise tale says that they ride on the backs of migrating geese; they fly.  Another wise tale is to remove your feeders in order to make them migrate.  They will migrate when nature tells them.  Hummingbirds migrating through from the north need that energy to help them make it across the big pond. They are already starving when they come through.  Leave your feeders up for two or three weeks after the last sighting to catch any late stragglers.  Occasionally some of breeds other than our ruby-throated will over winter.  An Anna’s hummingbird was reported staying in the Huntsville area this past winter.

 

 

 

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