One of the things I look forward to most about spring is seeing the ruby-throated hummingbirds again. ” My hummingbirds,” I call them. Every year I anticipate their arrival with great joy, watching my feeders religiously for days on end, hoping everyday to see one suddenly light on the feeder for a drink. Here in the eastern United States, we only have one species of hummingbirds–the ruby-throated hummingbird. On the left here is a male–notice its ruby throat or gorget as it is called. Females and immature hummingbirds lack this distinctive color.
In 2012 the ruby-throated hummingbirds arrived at my feeder on the 8th of April. In 2013 they arrived a whole week later, on the 16th. This year I haven’t seen them yet, but I did take the time today to make up some hummingbird nectar, get my feeders out of storage, fill them and then put them up outside. I have 5 feeders, all of which during summer are visited regularly. I put them all around the house so that they will be used by more than one pair.
If you also love watching hummingbirds, put your feeders out! The sooner the better, especially if you live in the south. If you live in the north, you probably can wait a few weeks. If your feeders are out when the birds come by, they are more likely to stop and nest in your location. Otherwise, they may move on. The birds have already been spotted in Florida and Georgia and are steadily moving north.
If you are wondering when they will reach your neck of the woods, you can refer to this MAP.
It is a wonderful source of information to see exactly when they will be arriving in your area each year. Plus you can submit the date when they do show up to your feeder so you can take ownership of the map.
If you do put out feeders
PLEASE DO NOT use red food coloring!
This is totally unessential and may even harm the birds. It is completely unnecessary for attracting the birds to your yard and not worth the health risk it may present. (Perky Pet, who makes the nectar with the red dye says there is no proof that the dye is bad for the birds. But the thing is, there is also no proof that it is not bad for the birds! Why take the risk? The red dye is 100% UNNECESSARY FOR ATTRACTING THE BIRDS! If there is any question at all, we have an ethical responsibility to do what’s right for the birds. To learn more about this click here.)
In addition, please remember to clean your feeders regularly, especially during the hot summer months.
To make up your own nectar, simply mix together a ratio of 1:4, that is 1 cup of sugar for every cup of water. I use hot water, but do not boil or microwave it. Instead, I mix it up in a dedicated pitcher, shaking hard to dissolve the sugar. Then I store it in the fridge until it is time to use.
Above is a photo of a female ruby-throat. Notice her lack of a red gorget and her long tongue. It is hard to miss! Now you can see why they can drink so easily from our feeders and flowers!
In the coming weeks I will be adding more info about hummingbirds and will feature them on my Weekly Creature Feature page soon. To the left is the kind of feeder I use– from my experience, I believe it is the best design. It is super easy to clean since the bottom unscrews as does the top. Plus the tube provides the birds with some security as they are feeding.
Happy Hummingbird watching! Drop me a line when you see your first bird of the season! I’d love to hear from you.