Ruby Throated Hummingbirds Are Coming!!

— Written By

As early as April 1 and usually by mid-April Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are coming through on their migration from Central America. They fly over the Gulf of Mexico and into the United States. Often the same bird will return to the same feeders, sometimes on the same day. Remember this because the birds and their off spring you feed this year, will be looking for your feeder in years to come.

Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are the only breeding hummingbird in Eastern North America. Most have migrated back to Central America by early November. Rufous Hummingbirds are rare but are an increasing visitor to flower gardens and feeders in our area.

Feeding Hummingbirds

You can attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to your backyard by setting up hummingbird feeders or by planting tubular red or orange flowers as part of your landscape.

Artificial Nectar:

  • One part sugar to 4 parts water.
  • It’s not necessary to boil the water. Organisms causing fermentation may be carried by the hummingbirds as they feed.
  • Store unused nectar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks

Change the water before it grows cloudy or discolored and remember that during hot weather, sugar water ferments rapidly to produce toxic alcohol. Be careful about where you put your hummingbird feeders, as some cats have learned to lie in wait to catch visiting hummingbirds.

Buying and Maintaining a Feeder

There are many options for hummingbird feeders. Red color is critical to attract hummingbirds. Remember you don’t have to dye the nectar to attract the birds, but rather buy a red feeder. Bee Guards are often around the feeding ports. Yellow bee guards attract bees and wasps, the manufacturers have changed the guard color to white, resulting in bees and wasps being less likely to be found at your feeder. Built in perches are essential as hummingbirds prefer to perch as they feed. Ease of cleaning is essential to your hummingbirds’ health. Mold can grow in your feeder, so less parts and less nooks and crannies are beneficial to a healthy feeder. Once a month give your feeder a good cleaning using vinegar and scrub all mold and grime from your feeder. Rinse thoroughly before filling and hanging feeder. Size of feeder is important. If you never have feed hummingbirds before, start with a small feeder. See what happens. Base your size and number of feeders on how many hummingbirds come to your home.

Want to know more about birds? Visit Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology at www.allaboutbirds.org or Audubon’s Bird Guide at http://www.audubon.org/bird-guide

For more information or questions contact Shannon Newton, Area Horticulture Extension Agent, by phone at 910-875-3461 or by e-mail at shannon_newton@ncsu.edu.