Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hummingbirds/Purple Martins

Purple martins by Dori, Wikimedia Commons
Hummingbirds and purple martins are arriving. Purple martins have been reported all around and even north of us. If you have a purple martin house, be sure to evict the starlings and house sparrows and keep them out until the martins arrive.

For those who love the hummingbirds, it's time to clean out your feeders and get them up. Our most common hummingbirds in this area are the ruby-throated and black-chinned hummingbirds. They are very similar in appearance. Appropriate native plants are the most important food source you can make available to these tiny birds with a big attitude. If you haven't already done so, head to your local nursery and pick up some hummingbird friendly plants--coral honeysuckle, crossvine, sage, etc.

Ruby-throated hummingbird, William H. Majoros
Used by permission, Wikimedia Commons
If you don't have the space or ability to garden or just want to draw the birds to a place you can more easily watch them, hang a hummingbird feeder or two or more. It is very important the feeder be kept clean. You do not have to buy expensive hummingbird nectar. Just dissolve 1 part white sugar in 4 parts boiling water, allow to cool and pour into your feeder. You do not have to color the water red--and in fact, most people advise against it. If there is some red on the feeder, the birds will find it easily.

Be sure to change the water regularly and clean the feeder thoroughly each time. Never allow your water to get cloudy. Right now, with the cooler weather, you can probably leave your sugar water up to three days. When it gets really hot, you will probably want to change it every day.

I hope you are able to attract and enjoy these beautiful birds this summer.

Good birding!

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