Our spring migration is well underway and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are arriving on the Island. For me the Hummingbirds arrive shortly after the first flowers begin to bloom. I usually look for them when I see the first forsythia start to bloom. Another notice for me to start to look for them is shortly after the Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have arrived. While Hummingbirds are dependent on nectar from flower as a source of food, in spring, when flowers are fewer, they will also access the Sapsucker wells for sap. The Sapsucker wells also attract insects which provide food for Hummingbirds as well as other small birds like Kinglets, Chickadees and Warblers.
If you are planning to attract Hummingbirds to your yard, you can place feeders strategically throughout your yard and flower beds. There are a variety of Hummingbird feeders available from any number of stores and shops. I prefer those that do not hold to much so that they can be refreshed regularly and are easy to clean. For the first couple of feedings, I usually put out a mix that is three parts water to one part white sugar. I feel that this with the extra sugar it will attract the hummers to stay around as well as provide extra energy to withstand the cooler nights. Once feeding is established, I change to the regular syrup of four parts water to one part water. There is no need to add any source of red dye to your syrup as the birds are attracted by the color of the feeder and there are some who feel that the dyes may harm the Hummingbirds
You also should provide Hummingbirds with a variety of flowers in your yard if you wish to have them stay around for the summer. They tend to be attracted to the tubular flowers from Daffodils, Honeysuckle and Morning Glory. A variety of trees and shrubs will provide roosts, protection and nest areas. Hummingbirds usually choose a protected sight in a forked brand to build a nest of moss, lichen and spider silk as well as other fine materials. The nest are around four to five centimetres in diameter and will expand to accommodate the growing chicks.
Hummingbirds are a delight to have around throughout the season and are very entertaining to watch. Sometimes the aerobatics becomes quite intense as the young fledge and there can be some aggressive displays. As fall approaches, they will migrate when the time is right. However, sometimes it is good to leave your feeders out as during the fall Hummingbirds from areas west of ours sometimes stray outside their normal range and you may get to see a rarity.
Photos and Text by R.E.Arvidson