Hummingbird Migration Season is Here
The northward migration of hummingbirds is currently underway. With over 300 known species and at least 23 recognized in North America, the odds are favorable that you may encounter one of these jewel hued travelers in your backyard garden.
The most common varieties seen in the US are the Ruby-Throated and Rufous. Most will spend winter between southern Mexico and northern Panama. Rufous hummers in areas along the Pacific coast may not migrate at all.
Unlike most birds, hummers are solitary creatures and typically do not fly in flocks so a single bird may spend the winter anywhere in this region and likely return in the years ahead. Certain triggers such as the changing level of sunlight and a drop in available natural food sources are believed to determine the departure time of each solo flyer. The peak of southward migration for this species is late August and early September although some adult males start migrating south as early as mid-July.
When is the right time to hang your hummingbird feeder?
Timing of hanging your hummingbird feeder for the season is as important as placement and will depend on location. You should begin setting out feeders about two weeks before your first expected visitors based on historical trends of northbound migration. Click here for an interactive map of this year’s sightings across the US.
8 Tips for Successful Feeder Placement
You’ve heard it before. It’s all about location, location, location. The same holds true for the placement of your hummingbird feeder. A good location will ensure your feeder is not only an attractive garden accessory but also provides a good food source and enjoyment for both birders and birds.
1. Noticeable-Your feeder should be placed where it will catch some light and reflections will attract the birds’ attention. Hummingbirds have a vision in near UV giving them a heightened sensitivity to the red and yellow end of the color spectrum.
Cluster a brightly painted Couronne Co Hummble Bold Hummingbird Feeder near other colorful garden items or feeders for more visibility.
Hummers have a great memory and will return to the same nesting spot each year so let them know you’re open for business. Is this your first year as a birder? Try suspending your feeder near bushes for perching spots and where they can be attentive to predators. Your feeder should be no more than 10-15’ from foliage. Consider planting inviting flowers that attract hummingbirds such as honeysuckle or beebalm. The diminutive fliers must eat every 10 to 15 minutes and can visit between 1,000 and 2,000 flowers per day.
2. Convenient-Feeders must be easily accessible for the birder to refill and clean. Keep near decks or patios for prime viewing opportunities.
The Mosaic Birds Hummble Easy Hook Tabletop Stand can be placed on a patio table for an up close experience.
3. Safe-Hang high enough so cats and other predators cannot jump and attack. Cats can jump vertically over five feet.
4. Private –Hummingbirds are known to be territorial and will avoid feeders where larger birds are active. Offer your visitors several feeder stations distributed throughout your yard.
5. Close-Choose a relaxing area in your home near windows or patios to sit back and enjoy. For outdoor areas, display your feeder near benches or gazebos for better observing and photography. Don’t despair, urban dwellers. Hummers can fly up to 4000 meters above sea level and can spot feeding stations hovering on high rise patios and balconies. Protect your feeder and bring it indoors during any high winds or storms.
Century City/West Los Angeles. Photo Courtesy of Mike Andler.
6. Protected-Ensure the location of your feeder is not in a direct path of strong winds to prevent tipping or spilling and avoid high traffic areas where it can get bumped. Check your feeder after a hard rain as rain water can enter the feeder ports and dilute the syrup making it unappealing to hummers.
7. Shaded- Areas with dappled shade are good locations. Nectar will ferment and spoil faster in sun or hot temperatures and become cloudy or milky in color. Hummers are very susceptible to infections so help keep them healthy by inspecting and cleaning your feeders frequently. Make nectar in small batches to avoid spoilage and waste.
8. Well-spaced-Hummingbirds can flap their wings an average of 80 beats per second so they can cover plenty of area while hovering. Keep a nice open fly zone around your feeder so they don’t feel cramped.
7 Natural Ways to Keep Bees and Ants Away From Hummingbird Feeders
On occasion, bees or ants may find their way to your feeder to partake of the sweet nectar. Here are ideas on deterring insect invaders.
- Add an ant moat
- Install an ant guard
- Hang feeders from fishing line
- Spread something slippery on pole such as petroleum jelly.
- Move your feeder location
- Don’t overfill your feeders to prevent leakage
- Keep feeders clean
- Rub bay or mint leaves on the pole or Shepherd’s hook
- Hang your feeder in the spray of a fountain
Backyard birding can be a therapeutic hobby to enjoy at home. With a mindful eye towards the health and wellbeing of your backyard visitors, you will be rewarded with hours of entertainment and enjoyment year after year.