Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Going South

Don't forget your hummingbirds now that colder weather is approaching.

Many people stop feeding the hummingbirds and take in their feeders at this time of year.  They believe that if they continue to supply food into the cold weather it will keep the hummingbirds from migrating.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In birds the instinct to migrate is usually fueled by shorter day lengths and cooler temperatures.  They will not stay around just because they are being fed.

Now is the time of year when they need your help the most.  For the most part, the males have already migrated to their southern wintering grounds.  However, the females are still here.  Since most of their preferred flowers are past their blooming peak, they are seeking alternative foods to fuel their long trip.  Actually, some of "the girls" that you've been feeding all summer have probably gone south, and their more northerly cousins are probably the birds in your backyard now.
The yellow at the center of the flowers attract bees
Bees at your feeder can be a problem at this time of year, because they, too, are finding that nectar is not as plentiful now.  Since bees are attracted to the color yellow it sometimes helps deter them if you make sure your feeder has no yellow on it, and the feeding port holes are small enough to deny the bees entry.
This feeder has no yellow, and the feeding ports sit above the nectar.  Holes are too small for the bees to enter.
The type of feeder that has a flat surface seems to work better for this purpose, since the bees cannot reach the nectar if the surface of the liquid sits far enough below the feeding port.  The hummers, with their long beaks and tongues can still get to it.

Your feeders will help these transient hummers fuel their trip to warmer climates.

Submitted by Gay Schroer, World Bird Sanctuary Volunteer

No comments: