The fall hummingbird migration still has feeders popping! With most of the male Ruby Throats already in tow, females and babies are seeing less competition for nectar. They’re looking a bit plumper too as they prepare for the southward journey.
It’s pretty wild that even juveniles who’ve never made the trip, instinctively know to move south for winter – because they don’t follow mama and they don’t fly in flocks! The dwindling hours of daylight is their signal.
Nectar can be a little stronger this time of year as extra calories serve the birds well… they’re literally on a mission! So leave your window hummingbird feeder up, even if you don’t see anymore birds at the moment. Stragglers from the north may find an oasis at your place if fresh food is available for re-fueling.
To get an idea of the September-October migration, head on over to fall hummingbird migration (learner.org) and click the map to left. You can even submit your own comments about hummingbird activity at your place. Considered Citizen Science, the data greatly helps in tracking the tiny sprite’s movement.
If by chance you have a basin style window feeder, consider using it year-round for resident birds. Not filled with nectar, but mealworms, shelled peanuts, suet crumbles or similar. Remove the lid and your left with an ideal feeding tray!
We took an old plastic hummingbird feeder that started to leak (after a run through the dishwasher) and placed dried meal worms inside and hung from a branch. It was an instant hit with bluebirds, chickadees, titmice and warblers! Sure beats tossing a perfectly good feeder in the trash, huh? 🙂
Above all, leave at least one hummingbird feeder up for stragglers. There’s even documentation that some hummers stay year-round… in NC and even further north in MA. It’s a total myth that leaving feeders up will keep the birds from leaving… Mother Nature provides them with keen instincts far and beyond that of any two-legged creature!
Got a new window hummingbird feeder? Please fill it with the good stuff… read on:
One of the biggest myths about feeding hummingbirds is their food needs to be red. That one, along with leaving feeders up in fall will deter the birds from migrating. Neither are true, and the former may actually be hazardous to the tiny sprite’s health. Although no formal studies have been done to prove red dye #40 is not safe for hummingbirds… none have been conducted to say that it’s safe either!
Confirmed in Julie’s Zick’s recent blog post (yeah… she’s an expert) she’s got an interesting view on the subject: http://juliezickefoose.blogspot.com/2015/04/red-alert-for-hummingbirds.html
We’ve been encouraging folks to make their own nectar for years. Not only extremely economical, we believe hummingbirds prefer the home made solution over commercial mixes. 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water… it couldn’t be simpler!
Should you have any doubts or fears upon taking this leap from store-bought to home made, check out the new Nectar Aid. It’s the absolute easiest (and foolproof) way to make your own hummingbird or oriole nectar. Measure, mix and store it using one container, even the stirrer’s included!
Check out the demo video below, then watch some tiny sprites in action at this fun window hummingbird feeder!
Because hummingbirds are so territorial, they seem to spend more time fussing over (defending) their claimed feeders than actually eating. This time of year can be a trip if you really observe the tiny sprites. Adding an extra feeder is most helpful, if you can add two… even better. Consider a window hummingbird feeder, or at least placing one of them within view from inside your home. It’s an ideal way to catch small glimpses of action here and there while going about your daily routine. If we could sit on the deck all day and just watch… many of us would, the sprites are that mesmerizing.
Migration is a frenzied time around feeders. In the Eastern part of the country, male Ruby Throats begin their journey first. So aggressive around feeders, it seems their lives depend on that nectar. Females and juveniles follow, but you’ll never see them in groups or flocks because they fly solo. Even first-timers follow the instinct Mother Nature gave them to fuel up and find better digs for winter. Some land in Mexico for the season, while others journey further to Central and South America.
Nectar solutions can be a little stronger now as some recommend changing the ratio from the standard 1:4 to 1:3. One cup table sugar to three cups of water. The extra calories serve hummingbirds well in their quest to fatten up.
It’s also the optimal time for a swing! Say what? A hummingbird swing… really! Have you ever seen them? They’re hanging perches for the birds to rest while guarding their feeder. When we first installed ours, it seemed so-so, not a whole lot of action. But once the big migration was under way… omg, what a hoot! It’s the original, it’s Pop’s Hummingbird Swing and here’s the real story – enjoy!
It was actually snowing today, after 3 days of spring-like 70 degree temperatures, on March 25 there were flurries in Atlanta! Will winter ever end? Migratory birds are already arriving, making their way northward from the gulf. It’s got to be a trying journey as the landscape lacks their usual finds. They’re already hungry, tired and now… there’s no food!
Feeders help them on their way; seed feeders, suet feeders, fruit feeders, even your window hummingbird feeder. The same tiny sprites are likely to return to your yard if it offered good digs last season. It’s called site fidelity and hummingbirds practice this ritual.
The map over at hummingbirds.net shows daily sightings and locations for Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds. They’re penetrating the southeast and moving into Kentucky now. Just because it’s still cold outside it doesn’t prevent Mother Nature’s instincts from kicking into full swing! Longer daylight hours are pushing birds north to spring breeding grounds... despite cold weather.
Although it may not seem like hummingbird season is here – it is! Definitely time to dig out those feeders for a good cleaning and get them filled. Nectar can even be mixed a bit stronger than usual during migrations.
Your hummingbird feeder will prove to be a most welcome sight for the hungry and tired little birds. And hey, if you’re lucky enough they may even just stick around your place for the breeding season!
The busy hummingbird season’s winding down, and all of a sudden you’ve got ants who’ve discovered the nectar… yuck! Hummingbirds won’t drink (or prefer not to) from feeders with ants or bees, or any insects in their nectar – just doesn’t taste too good. If buying an ant moat this late in the season isn’t so appealing to you, there’s an easy way to get around the pests in your nectar!
Vaseline! Yes a dab of petroleum jelly around the hanger will thwart ant’s passage. If your feeder hangs in direct sunlight (which really isn’t the best location) just try to be sure that if the gooey stuff melts-it doesn’t enter the feeder’s ports. As the one in charge of six hummingbird feeders at the stables, an even better alternative was discovered this year.
It’s called Swat, and it’s purpose is to keep flies and gnats off horses’ wounds, out of their ears, or away from their eyes. There’s two kinds: original which is pink, and their newer version, which is clear, but like always… original is best due to the thicker consistency. They made it in clear because some folks don’t care for the “war paint” effect on their horse. Anyway… this stuff rocks as far as an ant moat! A dab around the hangers back in July… and it’s still working!
And the cool deck-mount feeder above? Parasol stopped making it for this reason… ants and no way to use a moat. The Flower Box is still around (in lavender and green too) and the same principle applies with the Vaseline application. A dab around the hangers and back of the basket keeps this hummingbird feeder ant-free… sans the moat.