Hummingbirds A Coming!

PhyllaMarch 17, 2008

The hummingbirds are on their way! First one in SC sighted today, according to the wonderful map linked below.

It's always a marvel to me that these tiny little birds make it all the way across the Gulf of Mexico in about three days. And, I'm seeing the first blooms on the native honeysuckle, one of their first nectar sources, as well as the buckeyes and columbine heading up to bloom to welcome the hummies. Fills me with glee!

Time to get the feeders cleaned out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hummingbird migration map

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I was thinking about them this weekend. The columbine will be blooming soon and that's when they always seem to make an appearance.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 7:15PM
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Guess I had better pull out my feeder and get ready for the early birds...yuk yuk :-D

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 7:55PM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

I thought some are here all year long?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 8:25PM
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Going to get mine from the building tomorrow!! I have tons of them around here and got to keep those little guys fed!! Thanks for the info!! :-) I love these little guys!!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 9:12PM
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Alicia, there's no "seem" about it. The columbines bloom when the hummies come back, because they have an age-old relationship of Yum! nectar, for pollination and, with pollinated columbines, umpteen seeding. I love how all the flowers that are just-as-big as a hummingbird's beak mean that natural relationship is fruitful. Yep, Glee!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 10:09PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

I'm new to the hummingbird feeding arena, so where do you find and buy the plastic feeders...preferably the inexpensive ones? I've been wanting to put a couple up, but never got around to it. I assume the feeding is sugar water, correct?

I generally have hanging plants on the porch and they come by several times a day checking each bloom. Fast little buggers.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 5:59AM
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Tammy Kennedy

Jim, the best feeder i've found is sold at logan's downtown & isn't cheap but will last for years and is easy to clean. It's called the #1 hummingbird feeder and doesn't look super great- it's basically a vinegar bottle with a base, but boy, they work great. And if you break the bottle, it's easy to replace, or you can replace it with a decorative water bottle that has the same threads. The base comes apart into 2 pieces and is simple and quick to clean, and seems to resist mildew for a long long time. I've had mine get knocked down before- sometimes by a floor & 1/2 and they may crack the perches, which you can repair with wire, but the reservoir stays unbroken. They are around $12 or 15 i think.

Yes, you do 4 parts water to 1 part sugar beginning of the year, then cut it down to 5 to 1 ratio as they start in. I nuke the sugar & water right in a clean spaghetti jar, and the feeders hold 1/2 a jar or so (i only fill them 1/2 way so it doesn't go bad-the bottles are big). You can keep any extra cooled solution in the fridge or make fresh each time. I try to make a jar when i'm finished filling, so that i always have one cool and ready to go. Don't use food coloring as it's bad for the birds or eggs- i don't remember the details. You can poke a flower in a feeder port to get them coming in at first, but i've never had a problem.

I agree- it's no coincidence that the hummers come right when the columbines and coral honeysuckle get going. I need to get my feeder cleaned & out!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 10:06AM
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I stopped using feeders years ago. We have so much coral vine and other favorites that I just let them feed from the flowers. A sight that always cracks me up is to watch a hummer follow the sprinkler back and forth so as to just stay in the light spray coming off the sprinkler. Our water pressure is too high so a hummer wouldn't last in the main spray coming off the sprinkler!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 10:11AM
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Tammy Kennedy

Have you ever seen one darting around in a swarm of gnats? It's super cool- they eat them- so they shoot all around trying to get them. They sure are funny little birds.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 12:02PM
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No, I haven't seen that -- mostly a lot of darting around flowers and a lot of bickering, lol. I have seen a couple sit on feeders with their tongues hanging out sideways. They are funny birds.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 12:14PM
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I haven't seen the sprinkler yet, LOL I can imagine. Yes, they are funny, I love to watch them. Last year I had a little guy who would come up to my sliding glass door and just hover looking around inside. He loved the petunias in my window box on my deck rail. I've seen them chase each other around, zooming over the house and all around. I've also seen them fight with bees that got in their way at the flowers and feeder. Definatly good garden entertainment!! :-)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 12:27PM
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Tammy Kennedy

Yeah- they'll take on a wasp at their feeder real fast! It always reminds me of helicopter dogfights when they fight in midair.

It took me maybe 5 minutes of watching the hummer that day he was eating gnats to figure out what was going on. I was watching from the kitchen, which meant he was @ 15' off the ground or so. He looked like he was having a fit in the middle of the air! Never seen one do it again since. I have seen them play in the spray of a hose before. The silly wrens liked to do that last summer when i would water some of my pot ghetto off the deck. I think they thought i was their shower girl. Seeing one with it's little tongue hanging out must have been hysterical.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 5:29PM
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They are adorable! My deck window box he was visiting regularly isn't but about a foot away from the slider door. And he would come in even closer to the door and hover, looking inside. I'm keeping my camera by the door this year, I have to get a picture of this if he comes back again! Last year it was in my office and he was always gone by the time I would get back.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 7:05PM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

Thanks for the info, Tammy. I was just at Logan's last Saturday, but wasn't looking for that.

Funny story about Logan's last Saturday. I was leaving out the front door, and saw they had rain barrels on SALE!! They had 2 pickle barrels (like I bought for $35 a piece) hooked together at the bottom (so they could both fill up at the same levels-I do the same with a hose) for the fantastic price of...are you ready...$249.99. LOL! I was standing there with my mouth hanging open, then I started laughing. About that time a Logan's "staff" person ask me if I needed help, and I told him I was just laughing at their "sale" price on the barrels.

Needless to say he wasn't happy and walked off, but I couldn't help it. I was still laughing walking to my truck.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 6:17AM
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$250? Didn't you know that's a steal for a rain barrel?

In my Birds of the Carolinas book it says that most ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate south in Sept/ Oct, but that females and young of that year will sometimes stay until Dec. In mild years they may stay all winter if they have close access to a feeder. Rufous hummingbirds have also been sighted in the Carolinas in winter. The Rufous breeds in the Pacific Northwest and usually overwinters in Mexico.

The Museum of Natural History has a website where unusual hummingbird sightings can be reported.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 10:00AM
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Thanks for the heads up so I can prepare my feeders! All of my salvia greggii Navajo Red survived the winter and is still bushy and green. Too soon for blooms, so I need to get the feeders up.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 10:41AM
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Just checked that map and saw that someone reported a hummer sighting somewhere near Raleigh today!...the feeders are out and the honeysuckle is blooming--ready to go!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 9:42PM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

I thought some are here all year long?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 11:10PM
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Jqpublic see my post 4 posts up.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 11:15PM
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those little guys are territorial! last year i hung a hummie feeder on the edge of my front porch. i noticed that they were most active in the late afternoon, and whenever i came out around that time a hummer would hover aggressively at the front door as if to keep me from invading his (or her?) turf.

durham NC

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 9:46AM
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I think they get curious about people. I've had them 'buzz' me - come and hang in the air just inches from my face when I've been sitting in the yard. Once a young one came and sat on a porch railing next to me, apparently so that he could check me out. I love their nests, too. They're so tiny and intricate. I watched a pair building a nest one time it looked like they were weaving it with their beaks.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2008 at 11:36AM
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