Monday, August 29, 2011

Help Migrating Hummingbirds

Hummingbird migration has started and with the drought, the little guys will depend even more on our feeders than usual.Photo above is of a patient at Wild Bird Rescue, so you can see how tiny they are.

I had the opportunity to do a short interview for Channel 6 today to talk about the impact of the drought on hummingbirds in migration. The segment may air tomorrow, depending upon other news. If you get a chance to watch, don't tell me. I try never to watch myself on TV.

Anyway, that made me think this would be an ideal time to talk about hummingbirds. We have black-chinned hummingbirds and ruby-throated hummingbirds here in the summer. During migration in September and October, other species of hummingbird may pass through, although not in large numbers.

All birds use a lot of energy in migration--hummingbirds are no exception. They consume a lot of food to keep their energy levels high for the trip to central America. They eat primarily nectar in flowering plants as well as small insects. With the severe drought there is a scarcity of flowering plants and the insects have not been plentiful either. This year more than most, hummingbirds will need the extra food provided by those of us who hang out hummingbird feeders.

If you don't already have feeders out, this would be a good time. You can make your own sugar water cheaply by mixing 1 part cane sugar with 4 parts water and boiling. Let the sugar water cool and pour it into a clean feeder. It is important to keep the nectar clean. Usually, you should clean out the feeder every 3 days, but in this heat, you may need to change the sugar water daily. If you see any cloudiness then change the water right away.

Hang the feeder out of the sun and preferably where the birds have a view of the sky. For best results, place your feeder near other flowering plants (if you have any.)

Let's help these wonderful birds have a safe trip.

Good birding!

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