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Where Did All Those Hummingbirds Come From?
Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 by eNature

Noticed a sudden increase in the number of hummingbirds at the feeders this month?

It’s not your imagination, nor is it an invasion of birds from somewhere else. It’s the new crop of youngsters.

The young birds of the year look like their mothers at first, regardless of sex. And that’s why most people think that there are just more females around all of a sudden. Hummingbird authorities do not mention any discernible differences between juveniles and females, but I believe that they can be identified by their shorter tails. This appearance doesn’t last long, because the youngsters grow tails as long as their mother’s in a short period of time, but at first, I believe there is a noticeable difference.

Another interesting aspect of the increased number of hummingbirds at the feeders is that the dominant male will tolerate the newcomers. Early in the breeding season, the dominant male will try to run off interlopers at the feeders, but the youngsters seem to be allowed to feed. Is it possible that these youngsters carry the genes of the dominant male, and that he recognizes them as his offspring?

With the increase in the number of hummingbird bellies to keep filled, the sugar water will disappear faster. This requires more frequent fillings to keep up with the increased demand. Keep in mind that the mixture is still one part table sugar to four parts water; heated to dissolve the sugar, but cooled before serving.

Have you noticed an increase in hummingbirds in your neighborhood? 

We always enjoy hearing your stories!

There are 16 species of humminbirds in the eNature field guides-- which ones live near you? »

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Comments

I live in Texas and we are in a severe drought. Our hummingbird population is way down. I am hoping they went to other areas where water is more abundant rather than the terrible thought that they may have died from the heat and drought.

Posted by Gail Hewett on 7/12

I have hummingbirds year round….I have been feeding them for about 20 years and currently have 10 feeders (30oz)...We go through about 100 pounds of sugar a month in the peak season and as little as 50 pounds a month in the winter. I live in San Diego California so the climate is temperate.

Posted by Cheri Moore on 7/12

I live in coastal Louisiana and we are also in the worst drought in years.  I am also concerned with the lack of hummingbirds this year.  I may see one or two and then none for weeks.  Presently, I am not seeing any.  We have a home in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas also and just started seeing some there.

Posted by Becky Broussard on 7/12

I live in Texas, too.  We had billions of them in the early spring because it was so warm here.  Then one day it was like someone flipped a switch-many of them left to go up north because it had finally warmed up there.  Now with the drought, I am seeing very few of them.  I assumed they had moved north also.  Normally, I have to fill my feeders every other day because there are so many here but this year I empty the feeders out every few days, clean them and refill.

Posted by Becky Provan on 7/12

Our hummingbirds have just about doubled in the last couple of weeks. The baby hummingbirds are here, as are the bluebirds, titmouse, carolina chickadees and we also seen the downey woodpecker young ones. We live in the foothills of the North Carolina Mountains and when the migration starts we’ll be feeding over one hundred hummingbirds. At the moment we are using over a gallon of nectar (sugar water) per day.  We’ve got baby turkeys and deer too.

Posted by Jean Thorne on 7/12

I live in British Columbia and we are fortunate to have Hummers all year round. We have Annas for roughly 6 fall/winter months and Rufous in late spring /Summer. It gets extremely cold in winter and the nectar will freeze, we keep a heat lamp over it and if it does freeze we are up early enough with another fresh at the ready. Haven’t had a winter holiday in years, it probably wouldn’t give me as much joy as feeding these little charmers.

Posted by Maureen Boncey on 7/12

Wonderful little creatures ... I maintain three feeders scattered around the yard (central coast, California) and I have noticed the little guys are very territorial and protective of their food source(s).  The dominate one(s) will chase away competitors during the day but between dusk and dark they seem to form a truce and I have counted up to 20 (or more) flocked around each of the feeder(s), each of the six feeding stations busy.  On more than one occasion I’ve seen two hummers perched side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder on a single station taking turns dipping into the sugarwater. There seems to be an urgency to receive adequate nurishment before “bedding” down for the night. Hummingbirds are aeronautical wonders. I find it fascinating to contemplate these are the only birds that can (also) fly backwards!

Posted by Milt Jines on 7/12

FINALLY and answer to what I’ve been seeing the last few years that we’ve live up in the WNC mountains!  Just as explained….suddenly a huge increase in the numbers, had to refill the two 16oz feeders every other day!  If I let a feeder run out…I’ll have one hover at my window and just STARE at me! lol!

Posted by Paul-3 on 7/12

I was watering my hanging baskets of petunias and the smallest hummingbird I’ve ever seen came right up to me and started feeding on the petunias!

Posted by Kay on 7/12

Right now we are going through 2 gallons of nectar a day, minimum…I’ve found that having several feeders eliminates some of the territorial issues.  We also have dozens of orioles that love the feeders.  The orioles build their nests on the underside of the Palm trees.  It is a full time job keeping the feeders filled and clean but well worth it.  It does make it difficult to travel.  I have one 72 oz feeder and one 48 oz feeder that I use if I have to be gone all day.

Posted by Cheri Moore on 7/12

We are inland in southern California & this is the first year we’ve had so many hummingbirds.  We have Anna’s, Rufous & Allen’s for sure, and I think I saw a Black-chinned, but it’s hard to tell unless they’re in full sun & sit still a little. We put up an Oriole feeder last year but they didn’t seem to like it.  This year we put the hummingbird mixture in both feeders & took the bee guards off and have been enjoying the Orioles at the hummingbird feeder.  The hummers use both their feeder & the Oriole one. 
We eat dinner outside so we can watch the evening frenzy. The two species usually tolerate each other, but I’ve seen the Orioles chased off by the hummingbirds occasionally.

Posted by Joan LaGuardia on 7/12

I am in western NY.  We had the coldest and wettest spring since I moved here in 1989. and I saw one male during the northward migration and one other sighting after that but nothing since and no females at all this year.  I have taken all but 3 feeders down but they have gone unused so every other day I dump the nectar and make a new batch.  Unless there are females somewhere in the area I won’t see any juveniles this year nor hummers at all next year. In 2007 I had 17 hummers that I was able to count.  The population has gone down every year since until this year when I saw one migrant and one other passerby.

Posted by Penny on 7/12

Paul ... you’ve opened a subject of great importance concering hummingbirds. Anyone who takes on the task of feeding these little guys needs to realize the seriousness of the responsibility.  Once you start feeding them it is imperative that you continue keeping an adequate supply of sugar water in the feeder(s), especially with the approach of fall. The reason they migrate, they are following the food source which naturally moves southerly as winter starts “setting” in. Hummingbirds migrate to Southern Mexico, Yuccatan where a perpetual “summer” exists. They will delay or ignore their migratory instincts as long as they have ample food where they are, and survive the winter. But, let’s say you neglect to keep them supplied with adequate food, and they have missed the migration, they simply starve to death because they can no longer “chase” the out-of-reach and dwindling flower growth. Another benefit, the responsible person who keeps the hummers well-fed gets to enjoy them year-round!

Posted by Milt Jines on 7/12

We also live in west Texas and have been blessed with our usual number of hummingbirds,  We have also had sightings of a ruby throated hummingbird which is kind of unusual for our area.  We have also been blessed with other birds which we have never had at our house.  We have several orioles and have had a Kentucky Warbler visit for a few days.  We are definitely in a drought area as we have had no rain since Sept. of 2010.

Posted by Elizabeth on 7/12

In answer to Milt Janes, as I mentioned in my post
the rufous hummers that winter in Mexico leave in September, there is some overlap with the Annas, and it is the Annas whose territory is moving north due to people who feed them. Yes I agree it is irresponsible to not be absolutely dedicated to these joy givers.I have seen the Annas in near torpor on my feeder, it is so cold for them, but usually 3 out of 4 survive, to breed another season of delight.

Posted by Maureen Boncey on 7/12

Living in south central Ohio, we have several ruby throated this year.  I only have 3 feeders.  I will add more next year,  hoping to have more birds.  We did have a wet, cold spring—but, the hummers were here as usual.  Will keep a journal so I can have a more accurate account!  Our grandchildren love them—-they are delightful for all to watch.  I remember when my mother was living—she always had many hummingbirds and lived in our present area.

Posted by Janet Janes ODell on 7/12

hummingbirds do not migrate south to follow the food source.  Hummingbirds instinctively know when it is time to migrate due to the shortening of the days.  Natural F\food supplies were around long before feeders ever came into play.  They can exist quite well without our feeders as they don’t depend on nectar alone. Once their young have fledged the nest and they have put on sufficient fat to sustain them for longer periods they know it is time to start their southward journey.  I have had a hummer stay through October until shehad put on sufficient weight.  You can leave a feeder up all year long and they will not stay once the instinct to leave sets in.  They know exactly when they are supposed to leave.  If you want to learn more about migration please check out the Hummingbir Forum at http://www.lovehummingbirds.com where we have federally licensed banders that can give you the right information regarding migration, nectar, plants etc.

Posted by Penny on 7/12

we have 2 feeders up within 30 ’ of front porch and there are 4 hummers that stay perched up in the redbud trees around house.  they have been running each other off from feeders for about 4 months now. in the past couple of weeks they seem to be more tolerant of each other and there also seems to be several smaller ones coming around either early in morning or late in afternoon. they looked like the older ones but by reading one of the above posts i now realize they are this years hatch.  they are a very entertaining sight with their posturing at each other. when the feeders get low they will fly up within a couple of feet and just hang there chirping as if to say get up and feed me. wife has had two of the older birds to come up to where she could feel the wind off their wings while they checked her out while setting in her rocker on the porch.

Posted by jabowen on 7/12

I was just wondering about the explosion of the little guys recently. This year they seem extra fiesty and look really healthy. You answered my question. Thanks love this site

Posted by Tierney Grinavic on 7/12

Yes!  I have so many hummers it sounds like a bees nest outside!  LOL I am constantly replacing the sugar water.  They are so brave and come right up to the feeder when I am right near it.  Kinda makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.  Then all of a sudden they all disappeared!  Only a few remain which I am sure are the adults.  Where did the youngsters go?  I am in NJ.

Posted by Nancy on 7/12

I used to feed the hummingbirds in W.N.C.  When all the young would suddenly fledge, chaos would ensue at my feeders.  The young ones had to sort out who was boss, and sometimes in their fights, both birds would fall to the ground.

Posted by John T. on 7/12

Nancy in NJ
The ones that seem to have gone may be the adult males.  The adult males start the southward migration some as early as July. Sometime after they have left the adult females will start leaving unless they have had a late nesting. The Juveniles will be the last to migrate usually in Sept. or as late as Oct in your area. If you keep an eye on your birds you will notice that they are getting considerably fatter.  When they feel that they are carrying enough fat to sustain the long journey they will head south.

Posted by Penny on 7/13

I usually see a few hummingbirds in my garden, visiting the bee balm, salvia and mints I have. I never fill feeders for them, because I cannot convince myself that feeding birds plain sugar water is any better than feeding kids a constant diet of french fries.
I understand they need a lot of calories, but they get that from flowers—along with nutrients.

Posted by Pam S. on 7/13

I once read in the national geographic magazine;

Hummingbirds also eat Insects for Protein; so be sure to keep plenty of Garden Flowers and native plants growing on your property to attract Insects

another tip is: Grow Milkweed Species; the Hummers use the Milkweed Silk to build their nests

Posted by ANNE on 7/13

I live in upstate NY and, in general, we’ve had a wet normal summer but ruby throats seem to be down from last year.  I attribute this to the tenacious hold winter had in our area. Snow and cold held on till almost mid May.  Comparing bloom times in my butterfly garden to last year (Monarda, coneflowers, coreopsis, butterfly weed etc.) we’re running a week or more behind.  Hoping, though, that now plants in general and nectar plants in particular no longer seem to be holding back maybe hummer populations will spike up with the new generation of fledglings.

Posted by Gerry Fedde on 7/13

Gerry
I am in Niagara County near the falls and our population is almost non existant this year.

Folks need to realize also that when they spray their plants with pesticides and herbacides they are potentially harming the Hummingbirds and Butterflies that visit those plants since the poison is absorbed into the plant.

Also don’t buy the commercial nectar mixes.  It contains red dye #40 and can also be a potential hazard.  It is also showing up in the honey combs of our bee keepers and it has to be destroyed as it can’t be used causing the price of honey to go up. 

Simple nectar is very easy and much cheaper than buying the commercial junk. 

You only need 1/4 cup of white granulated cane sugar and 1 cup of water.  Some people boil the water first and then add the sugar but you don’t have to boil it.  Just make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved before using it in a feeder.  If you do heat the water make sure it is cool before filling a feeder

DO NOT add any red food coloring. There is enough red on the average feeder to attract their attention.  Do not add or use honey, molasses or any other sugary substance to the nectar as this can be fatal.

http://www.lovehummingbirds.com

Posted by Penny on 7/13

We’ve lived in Wentzville, MO for 2 years.  Last year we had 2 feeders and several regulars.  This year we haven’t seen hardly any - thought maybe because of the cacadias this year - but not sure.  Anyone have any ideas why we’re not seeing them this year?

Posted by Diane Longinette on 7/13

I live in Austin on Lake Travis (what’s left of it in this drought) and just saw some yesterday (7/12/11) out my window.  We keep two feeders, but we have noticed that the feeders are not being depleted as quickly as in the spring.  My Dad lives farther north in Texas (still in drought area), but seems to have more of them.

Posted by Jerry Buller on 7/13

I’m in NW FL and we, too, are in the midst of a severe drought so I’m seeing no hummers right now.  I’m maintaining three feeders with fresh nectar and watch for them daily but no little jewels yet.  Hopefully, I’ll have my return wintering hummers that will get banded for the national database.  They bring such joy and we eagerly await their arrival each year.

Posted by Pat Taylor on 7/13

Diane in Mo.  Cicadas shouldn’t have any affect on your hummers.  You could still have nesting females where you are and you may see more activity by the end of the month. 

There seems to be several general areas that a void or nearly void of hummer activity this year. 

Keep in mind both the northward and southern migration is a very arduous journey for such a small bird and they can easily fall victim during severe storms as they pass through.

Posted by Penny on 7/13

We live in Naperville, IL, and have a female hummer who has been nesting in our neighbors’ yard for years. A few years ago, she nested on a low branch of the maple next to their deck.  We would sit there and watch her as she nurtured her young.  When they fledged, she would have them sit on the deck railing while they tested their wings.

Each year, we wait to find out if she comes back. This year, so much time went by that we thought she wasn’t coming. We too are quite dry but about two weeks ago, I saw momma hummer at my hyacinth.  A few days later, she found the feeder I put out every year for her and she’s been a regular ever since. Not sure where she’s nesting but she does zip back to our neighbors’ yard when she’s done eating. Hopefully, we’ll see the youngsters soon.

Hummers are such a joy to watch!

Posted by Jean Savage on 7/13

Penny:  thank you for your reply.

Posted by Nancy on 7/13

Message to Texas and Louisiana bloggers: Don’t worry. Your hummingbirds are at my house! I live in Ohio and I noticed a huge boom in activity. I usually fill the feeders about 1/2 way and end up throwing away leftovers when I clean and refill. Two days ago I accidentally overfilled and yesterday there was hardly anything left. They’re aggressive, though. One of these days I’m going to get impaled because they don’t pay attention to what they are doing when they chase each other.

Posted by Nichole on 7/13

You do have a point here. I have read a lot about this on other articles written by other people, but I must admit that you have proved your point here! Will be back to read more of your quality information!
Wall Stickers

Posted by Adi on 7/13

Nancy you are quite welcome.  Feel free to check out the Hummingbird Forum at www.lovehummingbirds.com

We have many very knowledgeable folks about migrations, plants and just about anything that you would like to learn about hummingbirds and some amazing photograph from our members as well.

Posted by Penny on 7/13

I live in S. Calif. i have several feeders on my patio. There is one hummingbird which sits either in a small tree or on a wind chime all day long. At first, it was chasing away the other hummingbirds, but now it allows one to feed….and it puffs up its feathers, head, heck, and bounces up and down, seems like it is trying to attract the other bird.  It even stays when I walk out, and I really enjoy watching it.

Posted by Martha on 7/13

Sounds like you may have a male either from this year’ nesting or an adult who is trying to attract a female.  If it is an adult male Anna’s it will have a rose-red crown and gorget.

An adult male Allen’s will have a metalic bronze-green head and back and an iridescent coppery red gorget

The juveniles will lack the full colorful gorget but might have a couple of copper red or rose red tiny feathers at the throat.
the Hummingbird Forum

Posted by Penny on 7/13

I’m in the mountains of VA and less than a week ago saw a male doing a courting dance (first time I’ve seen this…very exciting!). I thought it was way too late for them to just be breeding. But from the last post, it sounds like that behavior doesn’t just happen before nesting. Interesting…heading to the Hummingbird Forum (http://www.lovehummingbirds.com) to find out more!

Posted by Cinda on 7/13

Cinda
You can use the SEARCH link above the message list to search for a particular topic either by date or matching your search term.  By date will bring up the most recent messages under that topic and by match will list the topics from oldest to newest.  There are lots of topics on various hummingbird as well as the plants that are used the most by them as wsell as problems some people may have growing certain plants due to climate, pests, etc. so I hope you find the forum useful.

http://www.lovehummingbirds.com

Posted by Penny on 7/13

I forgot to mention that we have members from all over the lower 48 as well as Canada and South and Central America so several different species of hummers or the plants they are attracted to may be discussed beside the more common Ruby throated, Rufus or Anna’s.  We also have a couple of federally licensed banders who are always happy to share and keep us on the right track with accurate informaton

http://www.lovehummingbirds.com)

Posted by Penny on 7/13

Here in north central Texas we are nearing our record for dry years, but we have a good number of Black-chins.  We feel they are coming to us for nectar while flowers are scarce.  Salvia greggii get much probing these days.  One action we have seen for the first time ever is a hummer who dips his bill into the water of our birdbath, dipping numerous times before moving away.  It doesn’t seem to bathe, since no water is seen splashing, but it is drinking water.

Posted by Jan on 7/13

Its good that you have the salvia greggiis since they are so drought tolerant.  Oddly enough it is one of the few salvias that is hardy for me here in western NY as long as I provide really good drainage for them.  Once they start to bloom they will go and go until we get a hard freeze but then come back in the spring. 

In extreme conditions, hummers will drink water.  It doesn’t happen often since they do get most of their water needs from natural nectar and or feeders but with flowers in short supply due to the drought they are looking for additional water sources.  If you have a mist setting on a garden sprayer you can set that up to mist your plants and the hummers will make use of it.  In past years I have wired my hose to a shepherds hook with the sprayer set on mist and turned it toward the plants especially those with large leaves

Posted by Penny on 7/13

Has anyone ever seen the Hummingbird moth?  They are cool!

Posted by Robin on 7/13

In answer to Robin, yes once, and I thought it was an Albino Hummingbird!
Just saw another amazing sight, there is a small spider in a large web about a foot away from the feeder. the Rufous tried to get at it, but the vibrations from her wings set the web a “humming”, she opened her beak wide 4 times but never got the spider!

Posted by Maureen Boncey on 7/13

I have seen the hummingbird moth and have a pretty good picture of it. They are really cool.

Posted by Sherry J Woodruff on 7/13

I live in Texas south of San Antonio. My hummers arrived the first week of March, at first just a few males some black chinned and ruby throats. Then all of sudden there was to many to count. I have two feeders and I was filling them up twice a day (they are 1 quart ones). We are also in a terrible drought. We have live oak trees all around our house. I see the hummers all up in the trees. I have humming bird bushes in my yard and the past week or so they have been blooming the hummers love them, I have esperanza bushes ,fire bushes and mexican sage that are blooming a little and the hummers love them also. In the past years most of the hummers are gone by sept. We love to watch them and look forward to seeing them every year.

Posted by Billie on 7/13

Can someone tell me..I have 2 all black hummingbirds in my yard. Aren’t they native to florida?

Posted by pam morey on 7/14

Pam in Florida

The 2 hummers you are seeing are probably adult male Ruby-throated hummingbirds.  Depending on how the light is refracting off their plumage they may appear to be all black.  The adult male has a black head and when the light hits it the gorget (throat area) is irridescent red.  If you are seeing them in shade the dark green irridescent feathers on the body could appear to be black.  The Ruby-throated is the most common east of the Mississippi during spring and summer. 

There is a website for Florida hummingbirds Run by Steve Backus from Valrico with some amazing photos of hummers that have been seen in Florida at one time or another http://www.floridahummingbirds.net/10201.html
He also has a Florida hummer forum here:  http://floridahummingbirds.proboards.com/

Check it out I think you will find a lot of helpful info

Posted by Penny on 7/14

Could hummers be eaten by red-bellied woodpeckers or crows?? I’m in E C Minnesota and have lots of birds visiting my feeders, and have had many visits per day to my hummer feeder by both male and female. However, the past week or so, NONE! I also have crows and red-bellied woodpeckers around. We in Minnesota have had terrible storms this past month or so. Could it be these little gems have been destroyed, or perhaps they prefer to go to more deluxe feeders? I also have many hanging and potted flowers on my back deck. Could they be preferring the flowers to my sugar water??

Posted by Kathryn on 7/14

By the way, I do change and thoroughly clean my feeders every 2 days or more.

Posted by Kathryn on 7/14

Hummers are generally too fast for crows or sapsuckers.  Crows usually prefer food that they don’t have to work hard to get…road kill, eggs and spilled trash.  I have never heard of a woodpecker or sapsucker going after hummers.  Roadrunners will take on a hummer but I don’t think that you need to worry about those is Minn.  This time of the year, if plant nectar is abundant they will generally go for the flowers where they can get nectar as well as tiny insects for protein that they will be needing as they start to build up their fat reserves for migration.  They will usually use feeders more during rain storms.

When you clean your feeders especially after high humidity or rain pay close attention to the black sooty mold that can form in crevices very quickly even if the temps are cool.  They really don’t prefer the more delux feeders.  You can hang a #10 feeder right next to a $2.00 feeder and more times than not they will go to the $2.00 feeder…the simpler the better.

Posted by Penny on 7/14

Thanks, Penny! I try to look for any traces of black on all parts of the “Best One” feeder that I use. I wash it in hot water and fragrance-free dish soap with a tiny piece of “scratchless” scrubber pad to get at those black traces. I hope you are right about preferring my hanging petunias, lantanas, geraniums, dahlias, etc,...to the nectar. I just wish I could SEE ‘EM! grin

Posted by Kathryn on 7/14

I haven’t noticed any increase, but to be honest, I haven’t really been looking. We don’t have a hummingbird feeder which is probably the problem. I think I’ll have to buy one now that there is a promise of some visits by these cute little guys!

Posted by Christina on 7/14

Kathryn
I invite you to check out the hummingbird forum that I moderate.  We discuss feeders, plants that provide the most nectar for hummers and anything else related to hummers.  We even have one member from Minnesota who is able to grow many southwestern and warmer zone hummer plants in his garden Here is the link http://www.lovehummingbirds.com

Posted by Penny on 7/14

I have been told never to use soap on the feeder when cleaning it. I use a “Perky Pet” with parts that are easily disassembled, a Q-tip to get into the feeding tubes and an angled brush for the glass container. Do this every time you change the nectar and black mold will not appear. Hummers usually abandon a dirty feeder, or the mold might have made them ill.
For the nectar I take a one cup measure, add 2 ounces of berry sugar [fine granulated] add boiling water to the 8 ounce mark, stir to thoroughly dissove,then 3 ice cubes, which will take up the displacement of the sugar, and voila!Perfect temperature too.

Posted by Maureen Boncey on 7/14

dish soap can leave a residue on feeders.  It isn’t harmful but it can alter the test of the nectar because the hummers can taste it.  That is why it is generally advised not to use soap to clean feeders.  I use cider vinegar as it also has antibacterial and anti fungal properties.  Then flush and rinse well with clear cold water

You can also put have the amount of boiled water (1/2 cup) in a container, add the normal amount of sugar for 1 cup.  Stir the sugar in the water to dissove and then add 1/2 cup cold water.  I usually make up 3 or 4 cups of nectar at a time and then just store the extra in the fridge in a lucrative hummer year.

Posted by Penny on 7/14

Penny & Maureen I’m confused. :o/ I read instructions that I need to boil my mixture for a MINIMUM of 1 minute in order to sterilze the mixture and prevent spoilage. Adding cold water to boiled water defeats the purpose of a safe and sterile nectar, doesn’t it??? Also, I thoroughly rinse the fragrance-free dish soap with hot water. Maybe this last time I didn’t rinse enough? I’ll try your suggestions.
THANKS!

Posted by Kathryn on 7/14

Kathryn
Not everyone boil the water and it really isn’t that necessary and I will tell you why.  As soon as that hummers tongue goes into the feeder port to drink, the nectar is already contaminated and each subsequent insertion adds a few more germs.  Using boiled water helps the sugar to dissolve much faster than using all cold water and it also helps to get rid of excess chemicals that may be in your water.  If you don’t boil the water or heat it and you are in need of nectar right away you can use plain cold tap water and it will not harm the hummers. It will just take longer for the sugar to dissolve.  If you are concerned about contamination or if your water has a lot of iron or other minerals or high in chlorine, you can continue to boil or you can buy bottled SPRING water ... but DO NOT USE DISTILLED water

Our Hummingbird forum does answer a lot of these questions and concerns

Posted by Penny on 7/14

I read somewhere that feeding hummingbirds is a bad idea, because it messes up their migrating schedules, and sometimes they overstay their food supply in the fall.  But it seems everybody and his uncle is feeding them, so that must not be accurate.  Anybody have any comment on this?  I put out bird feeders in winter: suet cake for the woodpeckers, platform with whole kernal corn for the blue jays, and a hanging feeder with seeds in it for the chickadees.  That’s all that stays all winter here.  That and the squirrel, who gets a lot of it, buy hey, squirrels have to get through the winter too.

Posted by Barbara Bernhardt on 7/15

Barbara that is not accurate information.  Hummingbirds migrate south in late summer early fall in relation to the shortening of the days for those hummingbird species that actually do migrate.  There are some of the western species that are residents year round. Since I am east of the Miss.  I only have first hand experience with Ruby-throated hummers.  If a Ruby-throated hummer does not migrate it is because it is either too old, sick or injured to survive the long and arduous journey.  It has nothing to do with whether there is a feeder up or not.  In some cases a female has had a late nesting and her young are late leaving the nest.  Feeders can make a difference in their survival for a late migrant until they can get far enough south where there is still natural nectar from plants still available. 

One year I had a young hummer show up on Oct 12th right after a snow storm.  She stayed until the end of the month bulking up and putting on weight so she could continue on.  If she had not found my feeder, she may have died.

Some years I leave a feeder up until it can no longer be kept from freezing just in case there are late, old or injured birds still in the area.

For more in-depth answers to these and other questions feel free to check out the Hummingbird Forum where new members are always welcome:  http://www.lovehummingbirds.com

Posted by Penny on 7/15

I understand that the Annas Hummingbirds territory is slowly pushing north. Without feeders these tiny birds would not survive the harsh winters here in Southern B.C. Even though the feeders are left up for the Annas, the Rufous leave around the middle of Septemeber and are back the following year sometime in March.thats52

Posted by Maureen Boncey on 7/15

I LIVE IN INDIANAPOLIS IN THE PAST THIS TIME OF YEAR YOU COILD NOT GO IN THE BACK YARD FOR THE SWARMS OF HUMMINGBIRD! THIS YEAR I SEEN A FEMALE EASTER SUNDAY SHE WAS HERE A COUPLE DAYS THEN I HAD A MALE COME HE IS ONLY HERE ONCE IN AWHILE I USUALLY RUN SIX NECTURE FEEDERS ANS LOTS OF FLOWERS, I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHERE MY HUMMERS ARE OTHERS SAY THEY HAVE LITTLE OR HAVE NOT SEEN ANY THIS SEASON

Posted by DEBBIE on 7/15

I am eperiencing the same situation here in western NY.  I once had many but this year they have been almost non existant. 

One of my forum members lives in Martinsville, IN. just down the road from you and he has had severalall season and now they are increasing daily. He is seeing the fledglings now in addition to the adults.

Check out my forum http://www.lovehummingbirds.com

Posted by Penny on 7/16

Good article. Thanks for sharing!

Actually, the solution doesn’t need to be heated in order to dissolve the sugar. Hot water from the tap will accomplish the same thing, and then cool in the fridge before serving.

Posted by John Tucker on 7/18

I have five feeders (two are very large), and I average five cups of sugar a day. I make a new batch every night and fill the feeders in the morning. Early mornings and just before the sun goes down, it sounds like a small engine is running outside my front door. I love watching them.

Posted by Amber Tackett on 7/18

I think it is a mistake to plant non-native plants in your own area. I’m in SE Michigan and the hummers do just fine with native plants.

Posted by Eddie on 7/19

My wife and I love these little birds.WE finally had about 5 last year. We moved in may and now have no hummingbirds. We only moved 2 miles or so, but away from the small wooded area we had. How can I attract them in my yard in the middle of the city. We are in mid-west,Independence,Mo., and want to get back our little birds.Help or advise is appreciated..

Posted by Tim on 7/20

I recently have been serving up a gallon a day.  It is hard to keep up with them, and I did suspect the youngsters.  One of them had a dot of a red feather on his ruby throat.  and as stated they are much more tolerant of one another.  I can easily say I had 20 to 30 on five feeders in my yard.  Amazing!

Posted by lorie on 7/20

Hummingbirds like to take baths and showers: In Newport Beach, CA, the weather is mild year-round, and so are the hummers. Six months ago, a hummer drowned in a birdbath fountain, We filled that with flat river rocks to 1/2 inch depth. No more drownings since. We then setup a three-tiered fountain. We have quarter-inch river gravel in the top and middle tiers so the water height is 1/8 to 3/8 inches deep.  All day hummers bathe in the top tier and take baths and showers under the waterfalls that drop from the top tier into the middle tier.

Posted by Jack Rodgers on 7/26

We like to place flat rocks in our cement birdbath to make shallower places and prevent crows from using it as their private refridgerator! I posted here that the ruby throats that were frequenting our nectar feeder suddenly disappeared. Well…Penny was right(as usual!) because we started seeing a few tiny ones come to the feeder, although they are skittish. And last night as I was watering my hanging basket and walkway garden by the front door, I heard what I thought was a loud bug or bee, then, behind me up in the birch tree….I heard this tiny chit-chit chitter chittterrr scolding!!
I wondered if a bird was in distress and looked up… and there was a tiny young ruby throat, perched on a branch, giving me the BUSINESS!!
He was mad because I was watering when HE wanted his dinner! I apologized and hurried to finish my chore, delighted to see hummers again!

Posted by Kathryn on 7/26

This is the first year that I’ve had a hummingbird feeder at the house I’m living in now, so I can’t compare to other years.  I’m feeding black-chinned hummingbirds, and while they’re increasing (I went from one at the beginning of the season to at least four now) it hasn’t been an explosion.  Oh, and they’re all male.  I keep hoping that one of them will bring a date around, but for right now, my hummingbird feeder is a boys club.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were fewer hummers around than other years, but for exactly the opposite reason as other posters, here in Utah, the summer has been much wetter and cooler than normal, so there’s a lot more plants and flowers for the hummingbirds to choose from.

Posted by Cori on 7/30

This summer Texas has had grass fires, a drought and extreme heat to match the heat wave of 1980!  Even so the “hummers” are here, hungry, hot, and short tempered!  I put several feeders up along our porch and they fight so much that it is hard to dodge their quick movements.  I put more feeders up in several small trees in the yard and that didn’t help.  Then I put a mister in a big patch of sunflowers and now everyone is happy!!  All of the birds enjoy the cooling mist including the hummers who spend the hot hours going between feeders and the sunflowers.

Posted by Alice M. Bateman on 8/8

Alice, I must tell you how heart-warming your story is! What a wonderful thing you are doing for your tiny fragile neighbors! I’m sure you have saved many birds from perishing. I hope the rest of us hummer lovers can be as generous and diligent as you are. I am preparing to put up another hummer feeder here in Minnesota because fights have already broken out at my one. There suddenly appeared a big tough male migrant from “up north” who has usurped my feeder from the ?one little male who has visited each day throughout the day this past month or so. Poor guy has to sneak over from his perch for a quick sip before the bully races back and chases him!

Posted by Kathryn on 8/9

Hummingbirds migrate to the mountains of Colorado (8,000 feet and higher) with the first strong south winds and storms.  Six different species visit my feeders.  BEAUTIFUL

Posted by Colorado Girl on 8/11
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