Sunday, March 30, 2008

The hummingbirds are coming!

The hummers are coming! Hummingbirds are making their way north from the south where they've spent the winter. You can see their progress on this site:

For the last couple of weeks, they've been in northern Georgia & Alabama. This weekend, they've moved into Tennessee, Arkansas, and North Carolina, and they're not far from Kentucky. They should reach Bloomington, Indiana around April 15, give or take.

It's a long and exhausting journey, and there aren't many nectar plants in bloom just yet. They really benefit from all the feeders people hang from their porches or in flower beds.

Last year, we had many hummingbirds in our yard. They're not shy -- if you stand still near the feeders, they'll buzz around you without paying you much attention. They can be very territorial about feeders, especially the males. Last year, we had one male who chased off every other bird until we put out a second feeder.

In our area, the bird everyone sees is the ruby-throated hummingbird. Mature males have the red throats; females and first-year males are green and white. We make hummingbird nectar as follows: put 1 part white sugar and 4 parts water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cool, and fill the feeders. No need to put red coloring in it, but most feeders are made with red plastic, which helps to attract them.

Hummingbirds are attracted to red or orange flowers, especially those with trumpet-shaped flowers, like honeysuckle. In our garden, the hummingbirds were enthusiastic about my zinnia bed. The photo above was taken in my zinnia bed last September. But the red petunias everybody said would attract them were a bust--I never saw a hummingbird near them, and hardly any butterflies.

It looks as though we'll need to put out feeders in about 2 weeks. I can't wait to see them again!

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