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Hummingbirds

Posted by greenelbows1 z9--so LA (My Page) on
Tue, Jan 30, 07 at 0:34

I was wondering if anyone has hummingbirds that spend the winter, or if they've started back for you yet. I've been planting things I hoped the hummers would like for some years--they don't necessarily like the things they're supposed to, and they frequently like things that aren't listed as hummingbird plants I find--but I've never had the hordes of them some folks seem to manage. BUT--several weeks ago I saw my first for this year, and today I saw it chasing off another one. (Sure are aggressive little monsters, aren't they?) A long time ago I planted Abutilon 'Souvenir de Bonn', which was beautiful for a couple years, froze to the ground, and came back without the beautiful variegation. Don't know what to call it. It blooms pretty much all year around, maybe taking off a couple weeks when it's really hot, and waves its orange bells ten or fifteen feet up in the air where the hummers can see it. I've also got variegated shrimp plant--Justicia brandegeana--coming into bloom, which the hummers love too. Put up a feeder when the first one showed up, as I wasn't sure there were enough flowers, but especially 'cause I can see them out the patio door. Really love bird-watching! I plant for the birds and the butterflies (flying flowers my kids called 'em) as well as for me.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Hummingbirds

Me too, Greenelbows!
What type hummer was that that you saw a few weeks ago? A rufous? I've put up a feeder, hoping for some winter western strays, but no luck so far. You couldn't possibly have seen a ruby throat this early?
Sherry


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RE: Hummingbirds

Me three, Greenelbows!

I have an over-wintering Buff-Bellied hummer (the only hummer that goes NORTH in the winter), a male Rufous (since they breed in the Pacific Northwest, this crummy dreary weather must feel like home) and at least one female either Ruby-throat or Black Chinned (impossible to tell the females of these two species apart). A very few RTs will hang out on the coast for the winter...maybe the lazy ones?

Here's a bad pix of a chilly Rufous (hope I got the right HTML code so you don't see the dreaded red "x" in the box)
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And an equally chilly RT or Black-Chinned
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

In this area, the RT hummers mostly come thru starting March, but few, if any, breed here. I had a cabin in NW Wisconsin where I had as many as 50 RTs at a time in the garden in summer. One flew into a screen and got her bill stuck tight. Luckily she didn't panic and move sideways, so I could gently push it out.

Keep the feeders stocked. They can show up when you're least expecting them.

Monica


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RE: Hummingbirds

I will, Monica!
Those pictures are great, considering how hard it is to get a good picture of a hummer!
My RTs get here on March 12th, at least that's the day they've arrived the past three years - they stay all spring and summer, and leave in October. I've never found a nest, but I get plenty of juvenile looking birds at the feeder, usually starting in May or early June, then more in September. I really enjoy them!
Sherry


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RE: Hummingbirds

My impression is that it's a female ruby-throat. Didn't see more than a fleeting flash of the one being chased away. I understand the ruby-throats around here, at least, breed around water, so they disappear for a month or two in late spring or summer (assuming I remember accurately, which is a BIG assumption!) and then come back, often with the youngsters, to the feeders. That seems to be the pattern for me, tho' I don't follow them to their breeding grounds. The river is pretty close and I think that may be where they go. I usually have one that's here most the year, and more at other times. Don't know if that one is the same one, but she(?) comes to the place where I usually have a feeder (sometimes have others other places, but mostly plants)and if there's nothing there she comes to the door like she's saying, hey! I'm hungry here!


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RE: Hummingbirds

We've never had hordes, but do get birds year round. We've never had a Ruby-throated in the winter, but I know some a little further south do. This year we have a couple Rufous and a Buff-bellied. The early December hard freezes fried most perennials, but there's still abutilon, jacobina, and camellias in bloom. I usually keep at least 4 feeders up, but we're in the middle of a construction project and because filling & feeding is more of a challenge now I only kept 2 out this winter.


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RE: Hummingbirds

My husband and I have owned property in Rockport Texas for 10 years, this is the first year we put out hummingbird feeders. We just sat on the front porch and watched them, it was just wonderful. I have not seen any hummingbirds since the end of October, but I do have lots of beautiful butterflies, they love my bottle brush shrubs.


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RE: Hummingbirds

I have seen several RTs in my yard in the Tampa Bay area the late fall. I have a fence line full of Cape Honeysuckle that they adore. This year, I have been focused on trying to plant items that they are supposed to like, so we shall see.

I'm wondering if those of you who have started to see the Hummers already if the migration to South Florida has begun?


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RE: Hummingbirds

I've seen a few RT this week (could be the same one though). I'm planning to put out my feeders tomorrow. There's nothing more relaxing than watching them try to kill each other. They are really funny and very territorial. I have several feeders and find that they claim which one is theirs very early on. They will even go so far as to sit on a branch to watch their feeder... and protect that feeder by swooping down on anybody trying to steal thier precious sugar water.


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RE: Hummingbirds

Pieohmy, keep those feeders up year round. Lots of winter hummers in your area. They migrate from the western U.S. and Mexico.

Here is a link that might be useful: Louisiana Western Winter Hummer weekly report for 2/10/07


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RE: Hummingbirds

Watching them sit on twigs to guard their territory tends to remind me of a very early lesson I learned--what you read in books or hear in class isn't always accurate! Don't think I was more than twelve or so when I 'learned' that hummingbirds never land--they even incubate their eggs on the wing. That was what the book and the teacher said. We had rufous hummingbirds--western Washington state--and they perched on the clothes line and chased Mother when she presumed to hang out the wash. Actually made her a little nervous a time or two! She was really awed once when a hummer flew onto the utility porch and couldn't find its way out, and she got to catch it very gently and release it back outside. That was a looong time ago! but I still almost feel the touch of that bird from the way she told it.


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RE: Hummingbirds

I too remember being told that Hummingbirds never land. I was very surprised to see them sitting on brances like a regular bird. Having feeders really took the mystery out of them for me.

Thanks Natal. Someone had told me long ago that I had to put them up for the winter or the hummingbirds would not migrate. I guess now that I think of it that really doesn't make sense.


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RE: Hummingbirds

I think that idea of taking the feeders down for the winter has been circulating for a long time, but as you say it really doesn't make sense. Guess it's rather like the people who said they never land! When we had our record-breaking cold spell about 1983, I think, and the temperatures didn't get above freezing for a HIGH for a day or two and made it down to single digits at least one night, I had to get up at dawn to get the feeders out there, and now I think about it I had more hummers that winter than usual. One morning I overslept and when I came out they were all congregated in the Mahonia bealeii, which had just started blooming a few days before. Don't recall seeing them in there before or since--any old port in a storm, hmm?


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RE: Hummingbirds

I know that RTs come to south Louisiana earlier than they do southeast Mississippi, Pieohmy, but this still seems mighty early! Do your hummers have the bright red throat, showing that they're males? Males always come first, with the females following shortly after.
Sherry


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RE: Hummingbirds

Misssherry, not all RTs leave for the winter. I know someone in Metairie who's had a RT all winter.


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RE: Hummingbirds

  • Posted by pepa z9 TX (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 12, 07 at 12:16

I just spotted a Ruby-throated hummer this morning. With our mild winters I have flowers year round. I have lots of plants that attract hummers so they hang around most of the year. This early I don't have that many blooms so I do hang out feeders.


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RE: Hummingbirds

Wow!
I've never gotten a winter hummer, even though I leave at least one feeder up all winter - wish I could get one!
Sherry


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I am just a few miles south of New Iberia, LA. I have had one hang around all winter. I think Ruby Throat, but I admit I haven't paid that much attention to it. Actually saw it just just yesterday. I have a feeder out and it took a few drinks, but it seems to prefer my Cape Honeysuckle which has bloomed all winter.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Garden


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RE: Hummingbirds

misssherry, I'm not sure because the little thing wizzed by my head so quick I only got a glimpse of it.

Last year was the first year I've put feeders up and I think it confused my hummers a little. We live in the woods and have always had them flying around outside without the feeders. They are very skiddish so far but hopefully they will get used to us soon. My mother has had her feeders up for years and can lift a feeder off its perch and the hummers will follow her around while she fills them. They also come very close when chasing each other... they sound like tiny helicopters when they fly by :)


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Hehehe!! I know what you mean about them following your mother around while she fills the feeders. When I take my kitchen window feeder down, I take it in the kitchen to clean and refill it - the hummers will buzz back and forth in front of the kitchen window where it sits, like, "Where's my sugar water?" I hurry as fast as I can to get it back outside! :)
Sherry


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I try to remember to take them down at sunset and be sure to put them up either right away or first thing in the morning, tho' now you tell me about having them follow you I'm not sure I should! The other day I didn't pay proper attention to proportions and realized I'd apparently reversed the sugar and water proportions so it was really thick. I added quite a bit of water but wasn't sure it wasn't still too sweet, but I put it out anyway. Today I was glad and I think my hummer was too--it's so cold, and it just sat there and drank and drank and drank. Stocking up for tonite, I guess! The only squirrel the cats have not succeeded in driving away or eating (I did think the little pests were annoying when they were digging up plants and stuff, but I enjoy having SOME!) just sat there and ate most of two ears of corn the same way. AARGH!! It's too late to be so cold!


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RE: Hummingbirds

Greenelbows, why do you take the feeders down at night?


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RE: Hummingbirds

I didn't make that very clear, did I? I just take them down to clean and refill them, except when it's cold enough for them to freeze. I think that's only happened when we had that awful spell about '83 when it stayed below freezing for a couple days. This country is not geared for that!


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RE: Hummingbirds

I thought you might have a problem with raccoons and that's why you were taking them down at night, LOL.

I have two color-marked birds coming to the window feeder right now. One was banded in the area a couple weeks ago and the other here last Sunday. Both are Rufous.


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Yes, I was actually shocked to see the hummers (ruby throats) dancing around the gardens in the middle of the winter. Here it Tallahassee we had several hard freezes this winter, but there they were. I'm very grateful for the smiles they brought but I hope they were successful in finding enough food and warmth to stay comfortable!


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RE: Hummingbirds

I should keep a journal, as I keep telling myself, but this forum works too! I've been missing hummingbirds, but I wasn't sure when they usually come. Some winters there are some all winter, but I was just asking my son today if he'd seen any, 'cause I haven't. Still things in bloom, but I took the feeders down last fall when there hadn't been any around for awhile, and I was afraid I'd get careless and poison them if they showed up from not changing them often enough! Late last fall we had a meeting at a friend's house in north Lafayette, and she had feeders all over and seemed like every feeder had a dozen hummers. They were zipping all around us as we sat on the deck with feeders every few feet. Amazing!


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RE: Hummingbirds

  • Posted by roxy77 Houston Z9 (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 18, 08 at 11:10

I have hordes of Hummers in the fall, but have yet to see even 1 during the spring. Doesn't make sense to me. I have tons of hummer plants and usually need at least 4-5 feeders during the fall to keep them all fed....but every spring they skip my house.

Oh well, it makes the fall even more special for me. :)


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