Columnist expounds on hummingbirds
By: Bobby Smith
The following is a story shared to me from Charlie Christian. He shares several important hummingbird facts that are worth sharing with you.
Hummingbirds usually begin arriving in mid-Georgia by April 1, so get your feeders ready.
Hummers are very territorial so only one feeder usually doesn't draw a crowd. You will need to have multiple ones spaced about 10 feet apart in full sun, usually away from the feeders for others birds.
I prefer 16 oz. glass feeders rather than plastic, which is difficult to keep clean. When I see the first male scout arrive in early April, I put out one feeder initially and add the others when the females begin to appear in May and the flock begins to grow.
When the females arrive and build their nests they will lay two white eggs, which they incubate for 21 days. The young will leave the nest 20 to 22 days after hatching so the flock becomes rather large by July 4th or shortly after. A female may lay eggs two to three times a year, so by late summer I eventually have dozens of mature hatchlings as well as the previous adults.
The flock begins to grow from mid-July until late September and, by then, the flock is too enormous to count. Therefore, I use a total of four 16 oz. feeders, which I fill at least twice a day. I make a large container of sugar solution and store it in the refrigerator.
The recommended sugar/water solution is 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Please no red food coloring! It can potentially make them sick and susceptible to disease. I clean my feeders at least once a week with a hummer bottle brush, and a 10 percent bleach solution and rinse thoroughly. A mild liquid soap solution will work well also.
The flock will begin its migration by mid-September and by October 1 I take down all the feeders to clean and store for winter. I do not believe in leaving a feeder out for a poor straggler as I can imagine it asking, “Hey guys, why did your leave me behind? Please come back so I can go with you!”
Hummers will return to the same location year after year and provide you with great enjoyment watching one of nature's favorite and most amazing creatures. For information on hummingbirds and other creatures of nature, contact your local UGA Cooperative Extension Office or call 1.800.ASKUGA1 or 1.800.275.8421.
Published in the April 2, 2009 Edition