March 14, 2016

Hummingbirds

A male Ruby-throated Hummingbird displays a bright, iridescent red throat.

Statistics show that more people feed hummingbirds than any other bird. Missouri is home to Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and is periodically visited by other species of hummingbirds during migration. 

If you are a lover of hummingbirds, here are some simple guidelines:

1.  Keep your feeders clean; the hotter it is outside the more attention the feeders need.

2.  You do not need red water to attract hummingbirds, the feeder will do that. Just mix four parts water to one part sugar and enjoy the show.

3.  Give your feeders a good soaking and cleaning at least once a month using either one part vinegar or bleach to nine parts water. Don’t use soap, for somehow it affects the flavor of the nectar and hummingbirds will stay away.

4.  Males arrive about three weeks before females arrive and established territories. If you do not have hummingbirds in the summer, don’t worry they will come back.

5.  September is usually the best month for hummingbirds. As the daylight hours shorten, they continue their migration south and for the most part will be gone in October.

6.  If you really want to attract hummingbirds, construct a flower garden. These gardens are magnets for all song birds and hummingbirds. If you have a beautiful native flower garden with a couple of nectar feeders, chances are you will have hummingbirds all summer.

7.  Remember, hummingbirds, like all song birds, are insect eaters. Please do not use insecticides or herbicides in your lawn or garden. Invertebrates are critical to the survival of all birds as they supply the protein birds need to survive. If you kill insects you may indirectly be harming birds.

8. Try the Grow Native! top ten list of plants to attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird drinks nectar from Cardinal Flower in mid-flight.

-A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird drinks nectar from a Cardinal Flower in mid-flight.

A 20-day-old Ruby-Throated Hummingbird chick rests and tests its wings in the nest. Pinkie finger for scale.

-A 20-day-old Ruby-Throated Hummingbird chick rests and tests its wings in the nest. Pinkie finger for scale.

A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird drinks nectar from a thistle in mid-flight.

-A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird drinks nectar from a thistle in mid-flight.