For those that feed them here in the Carolina's, Do you have the numbers that you usually do? I put my feeders out same time as usual and have seen one lone hummer so far this year. My friends who live 45 mins. away and 3 hours away both are saying the same thing. What gives? Anyone know?
Interesting observation, melsalz! I've seen none this year, and we're usually swarming with them by now. Haven't even put out the feeders yet because we haven't seen any. We have a friend who is really "into" Hummingbirds (actually tags the little buggers!). I'll ask her---if I can get in touch with her---she's always out in the field tagging birds. Was here 2 weeks ago tagging Painted Buntings. Will follow up.
I saw a couple on my morning glories last evening. If I get a chance I'll take a HB count in a couple of days. I seem to get them right around dusk and when the MG's are blooming heavily I get probably 10 in an hour.
In Granville County, NC (Raleigh-Durham) the hummers arrived at the usual time - before I had a feeder out. We usually have a male who controls things and his females and family members who dart in and out. So it looks about normal to us.
Stono, please do ask your friend. My husband gave me a new feeder for Christmas so I was eagerly awaiting them. At a get together this past weekend my other birding friends who also live in the Carolinas mentioned the same thing. It's so odd.
I have seen a less than normal amount of hummingbirds. I have only seen them 3-4 times so far. Only one bird at that. Normally, they are fighting around the feeders. It is rare that I even see them anymore. I thought maybe it was because the honeysuckle was in bloom or maybe there was too much real flowers in bloom. I hope they come around more often!
Melsalz: She said "no worries". The hummers are on their nests late in May, early June in this area, and won't be around the feeders. By July, the youngsters have fledged, and activity should pick up abruplty. Doesn't seem rational to me... Seems to me hungry parents would be all over the feeders during the whelping season (shows you what I know!). Anyway, she showed NO CONCERN WHATSOEVER. So I'm not going to. But as an ignorant non-believer, I'll still be watching... She said her tagging counts have actually been "up" a little this year on the hummers, and she tags the whole SC Coast, so we may not be in trouble. Might just be an anomoly. Let's hope!
I don't use feeders, just lots of red, tubular shaped flowers. A couple of birds seem to stay around all year. You don't see them often and it is always a nice surprise when you do. I agree with Stono's friend, you'll see them in great numbers shortly when the little ones fledge.
Stono, Thank you for asking your friend. I guess I'm jumping the gun. We built a new house 15 feet away from our old house and this is my first season in the new house. I have a new kitchen window to look out and have awaited their arrival. I'll just keep the feeders filled and hope more show up.
I'm in northeastern NC and I have maybe a dozen nesting in my yard. I put my feeders up arount April 15, [tax time] because that's when the first scouts start reaching my area. I look at the hummingbird migration map every year to watch their progress up from South America.
Where does one find the hummingbird migration map (on the web, I assume)? Although we have hummers every year here at the feeder, I have never found a nest - the surrounding woods (forest) is pretty thick and there could be many nests that I would never see. Is there a special method to hunting for hummer nests?
So I stopped in at a bird store today and asked if anyone else was complaining about the lack of hummers. She said she's heard both sides, but one thing she mentioned is this. She said there has been an abundance of natural blossoms this year. More than usual. She said the birds will go to the natural stuff first and the feeders second. Stono: She agreed with your friend and said that they will be back in droves once the fledglings start coming around. Can't wait!
Well, melsalz, everything I've seen tends to agree with with the "experts". When "natural" nectar is available, they seem to prefer that (good organic doobies!). Each time, and every time! But Boy, when that abundance of "Natural Nectar" declines, they swarm the feeders! And they're real feisty about pecking order...
I DO use feeders, Ardesia! Gets them up on the deck where I can observe them. But I have plenty of red/orange tubular flowers planted in beds below to be "attractors". Seems to work. They seem to love the Minettia, Honeysuckle, and Odontonema I've planted below the deck. But they REALLY love the Pineapple Sage planted far away from the feeders! Just doesn't work for me, but it seems to work for those feisty little guys!
I keep pots of plants that attract them on the deck so we can watch them out the windows. Such a shame it is always too hot and buggy to use the deck for it's intended purpose so it is full of flowers. Bouvardia ternifolia blooms most of the year for me with bright red trumpets. They are hard to find, sometimes Woodlanders and/or PD has them, but well worth the search. They are also twiggy plants and not the most attractive but the hummers do not mind that at all.
We are in the mountains, in Haywood County. We expected our hummers to return around April 14, as they have in previous years.
This year, not only did they not return until May, our huge flock from last year was only one male and one female. We were flabbergasted, and concerned.
We've been watching and waiting. Suddenly yesterday, a bunch of females, and another (at least) male showed up. We have had to crank up the sugar/water production to meet the needs of the larger flock. Don't know what the heck happened. I wonder if it was due to the extremely cold winter we had all through the South. Remember Florida had below freezing this past winter. So, I'm guessing the some may not have survived, and some may have flown further south to find warmer weather. Just a guess, but since we suddenly have a flock again, maybe they are just having to travel further to get back to us!! Don't dispair. Keep watching for them in your area!!
I'm still not seeing any at my feeders:( I will change the food again tomorrow, it's been out there for about a week. No whizzing over head, heading to my mimosa tree, which is very unusual. Maybe I'm just having an off year. Glad to hear that others here in the Carolinas are seeing them.
We had our friend the hummingbird expert here today tagging buntings, Melsalz. She yelled at us for not having our hummingbird feeders out, so we put a couple out. One appeared at the feeder in less than an hour! I think they'll come back this year, just later than usual, and maybe not in the same numbers as previously.
Glad to have come across this thread. Friends of mine said they had hummers 3 or 4 weeks ago then they disappeared. They were hoping something hadn't gone wrong. Perhaps they went off nesting somewhere, eh?
Good to hear that ya'll are seeing them show up again and that your hummers are coming in late. At least I know what to tell my friends to calm them down and ease some worry on their part.
That was my idea when we built the house, Ardesia! In fact, I made the builder expand the back deck from 8' to 12', envisioning tons of beautiful tropicals out there to see every day. Wrong! The only thing that can survive on that southern exposure deck is cactus. The reflected heat kills anything leafy and pretty. How do you keep things alive out there? (It's not water---I rigged a drip system for the deck that is totally flexible; it can deliver 5 minutes of water every hour, to virtual constant watering. No schedule worked. I'm convinced it's the reflected heat, not the watering...
I also have a front deck that is quite hot with no roof. So I put out a big umbrella (in a heavy footed stand) like people use on patios. It provides enough shade that I can put out pots of impatiens, caladiums, etc. It has actually worked pretty good. The sun is hot enough there that the fabric has faded over the last couple of years, but my pots do well there until frost. Of course, I have to water them about every night in the summer if it doesn't rain.
My deck faces west and although it is brutal in the afternoon, with the drip system (twice a day for a few minutes) I usually have lots of tropicals blooming. Jatropha integerrima and bouvardia ternifolia bloom most of the year. I fill in during the warm months with othe bloomers. We had the house washed yesterday and I had moved all my pots out into the garden Thurday evening. Everything was sprayed heavily with deer repellent but when I woke up yesterday all the plants were stripped of the foliage and flowers even the desert rose which is poisonous. So bummed.
X: That is a hilarious picture. When we first moved here, we had deer problems, but our dogs run loose so that keeps them away now. On a sad note, woke up to a dead fawn (maybe a day or two old). My dogs found it somewhere and brought it home. I don't want the deer eating my yard, but I don't want my dogs killing them either.
I have an east facing deck, and it gets hotter than hot. It does get shade in the afternoon, but whoa you can't walk on it with bare feet when the sun is shining on it. I'm wanting a pergola built over part of my deck. I want to grow some kind of vine over it and then I would be able to enjoy my deck at any time of day.
I moved one of my hummingbird feeders to the back yard. I've seen one maybe every 4-5 days or so. Still not the numbers I've had in previous years.
My dog runs loose during the day but they usually (but not always) come in the wee hours. Did you know deer like cordylines from Hawaii? I had some beauties but not only did they munch on the bigs ones, they also devoured some seedlings. Aggghhhhhhhh
Well, my husband is making 2 quarts of fresh sugar water every day!! We have at least 15 hummers coming to our two feeders now.
They are so funny when they come in numbers. Whether fledglings or not, they are very curious, and love to check us out if we stand at our porch railings for a while. Especially if I wear my pink or red shirt!!
Now I'll have to get out some organic cleaner to wash the railings under the feeders. Our feeders are hanging on S-hooks under the cover of the porch roof, to keep the juice in the shade. They have left lots of little tiny deposits in payment for their food!
Well, all those hummingbirds that used to visit me must be up in the high country with you. I have seen a lone male this year and that's bout it. He loves my Bee Balm but passes right by the feeder. I dunno????
Well, melsalz, I'm stumped. We are over-run right now, and we had to buy more sugar today so that my husband can keep up with them.
We have Butterfly bushes blooming, and they have been visiting them with the butterflies.
Our Rhododendrons have been blooming very sporadically (might have had winter bud kill), and our Daylilies are almost done (can't really say that they visit daylilies anyway).
So I guess the feeders are their best option right now here.
Sorry you are lacking in hummers!! Maybe they will migrate back your way when it's time??
On the 4th of July, we were at a relatives house on Black River in Georgetown. They had four large feeders on a pole. The pole had 4 bars at the top. I asked if she had seen any hummers this year and she said "Oh yes, alot"! By 5:00 PM, there were 25-30 hummers all over the feeders. We watched them for hours. It was unbelievable to me because I had never seen that many in one place. She makes her own sugar water and does not add the red coloring. Her feeders are the large plastic ones with red bottoms and yellow flowers. No fancy feeders.
Here in Conway,I have seen 3-4 in the last few days. They like the pink honeysuckle, all sage, and Mexican petunias.
Absolutely, make your own sugar water for the hummers. It's soooooo easy. It's just
1 part sugar ( 1/2 cup for a small batch) (1 cup med batch) (1 1/2 cups large batch)
4 parts water ( 2 cups-small) (4 cups-med) (6 cups-large batch)
Stir well to dissolve sugar. Heat til boiling over med-med/hi heat. My husband likes to crank the heat up to high, but I have to clean the sugar off the stove!! LOL
Let it boil for 1 minute. Turn off. Cool. Refrigerate what isn't used.
We have discovered that the Gatorade bottles (32oz) make good storage for the juice in the fridge. They wash out much better and don't have the smells from other occupants.
Please don't add any color to the juice. You don't need it, and there isn't any benefit to the birds. Might even be harmful. Dyes, although tested for people, are not tested for birds!!
Actually boiling is not necessary and not really a good idea .. it's their little beaks that cause bacteria to get into the solution .. boiling is actually not good because it changes the ratio of sugar to water which should be no more than 4 (water) to 1 (sugar).
When I make mine I get a large saucepan and fill it with 4 cups of water and put it on the stove on high. I then pour 1 cup of sugar and stir til it disappears then immediately take it off the stove .. by then the water is slightly hotter than what comes out of the tap but hot enough to get rid of the chlorine in the water. I let it cool a bit then fill the feeders only 1/3 full and store the rest in the fridge in cleaned 2ltr soda bottles.
I agree that boiling is not necessary - of course, I watch the feeder closely and clean and refresh it every few days, especially in hottest weather (like now). But years ago I read in "Birds and Blooms" magazine that boiling was not required - just careful cleanliness. That would be just one more chore to do, so I am glad to skip it.
Well, I was told to boil, and I read, (Donald and Lillian Stokes' authored book, "Hummingbird Book, the Complete guide to Attracting, Identifying and Enjoying Hummingbirds"), that it should boil for 1-2 minutes. (page 6)
Of course it really is necessary to clean. Since we change our feeders every day, spoilage isn't an issue.
In past summers, when we had very wet weather, the mold was an issue. Boiling for one minute isn't long, and it seemed to keep longer.
Mountainbeauty: Who knows? Like so much information today, we get told one thing today authoritatively and another thing tomorrow. We can all agree that cleanliness is the main thing to avoid mold and general grunge. Probably the birds don't care as much as we do. If what you have been doing, works - keep on. Maybe when I retire (next year - hurrah), I'll have a bit more time to do things "right" and will keep an open mind and do more research on this. In the meantime we can all enjoy the little fliers.
Just treat it like making sweet tea. Basically a toned down simple syrup and you need to follow the sanitary rules that go with that. Would you make a batch of sweet tea and leave it outside for days then just fill the container back up with tea?? Water+heat+sugar always equals science experiment. LOL. If you want to culture fungus that is the way to do it.
Doubt a hummer would like any of these ideas but the only thing I can think of would be these to stop fungus problems.
Make the feeder out of copper, natural anti fugal.
Add enough lemon juice to make the solution too acidic for fungus. I like real lemonade but not sure if bird's do?
Any who the problem does not originate from the water or the sugar so it doesn't matter whether it's boiled or not. The problem is with the container.
...and most hummingbird feeders are very hard to properly clean. When I used feeders I kept several sets so while one set was in use the others were in the dishwasher. It got too complicated and I have always preferred gardening to doing dishes so that is why I keep red flowers blooming for as long as I can. We usually have about a half dozen regulars buzzing around here, occasionally more. It is nothing like the mountainous areas where you can see them in great numbers. One time on Grandfather Mountain we saw so many in one place we couldn't even count them, there had to be several dozen. It seems hummers prefer the hills to the beach in the summer.
Melzer, I'm still seeing only the occassional hummer at our feeders. Usually by this time we have WWW III around our feeders. This year is definitely different! My unofficial guestimate is we're seeing about 10% of our normal activity for this time of year. Have yours returned yet?
Sadly I'm still on the hunt for my hummers here. It's partly my fault at this point though. We (my husband, & 16 yr. daughter) just got back from an 8 day trip to Colorado. I filled the feeders before I left and just now (day 12) I refilled one. Only after I saw one hummer buzzing around it. It could be the lone male I've seen around my bee balm. Too early to tell.
I did get to see lots of Broad-tailed hummers while in the high (7500 ft. altitude) mountain country of Colorado. My SIL had a large feeder up. For 3 days I was able to watch their antics.
Now here's my opinion of the boiling of water for food. I have well water, very good well water. Yummy water, truth be told. I feel like if my water is this good, why boil it. It can't be too much different than the water down in the creek nearby. Now if I lived in a development, where I only had city purified water, with chlorine and fluoride added, I would more than likely boil my water.
Very good point.
We do have our own well water, too. I filter it (stupid I know) to drink,
just because my husband is too stubborn to even have the quality of the water tested.
I guess I spent too many years in the city. My husband grew up on a mountain spring, so he doesn't have the same reluctance that I do.
I suppose the advice to boil the water may be an attempt to "cover your bases" in the case that the "reader's" water is not pure.
We are also on well water here in Granville County. When I go to work in Durham (city with highly clorinated water), I carry drinking water in 2 reusable bottles. I would also boil if I was using that city water for birds or, at the least, let it sit for a day or so to evaporate the chlorine (boiling would be much faster). I wonder if boiling slows down any possible mold growth. I don't leave the feeder up long enough to get moldy, but I'm sure it would if not cleaned every day or so. The mold spores are around in the air all the time, so they can get into the feeder at any time - boiled or not. Maybe boiling retards other bacterial growth. Interesting question - do the "bird" experts have a consensus on this? It is also important to have a feeder that can be cleaned well - some of the really pretty ones are completely impractical to clean - more for show that for use with real birds.
I boil the water just because I use "city" water that does contain chlorine and heaven know what else and also it makes the sugar dissolve better. Now being a retired nurse, if we have to go into sterile technique then we should boil the feeder and ask the hummer to please use sanitizer on their beeks. Nature has a way of taking care of itself so I am not sure that any of this really matters. Just feed the beautiful hummers and enjoy them.
Okay, I'll get one of those sanitizer dispenser from the hospital where I work, put up a pole beside the feeder, and post a sign that it is mandatory for all drinkers to clean their beaks first (something like the H1N1 precautions last spring). Now the only problem is how are the hummers to push down the lever to dispense the sanitizer - I don't they are heavy enough for the job. This bird feeding is getting complicated. Hope the squirrels don't think they should have a sanitizer dispenser beside the seed stations which they raid all day.
Stillwood, they could use the new motion activated ones. You made clear the point I was trying to make. This can just get ridiculous and life is complicated enough let's don't make feeding the beautiful birds a big deal. Just enjoy!!
Now, a way to get rid of the squirrels---I'm up to listening to that.
Well I guess I was a bit impatient this year. I have all my hummers back as usual. I was told there had been an overabundance of natural flowers earlier in the year. This probably accounted for their absence from my feeders. But they are here, fighting and protecting the feeders as usual. I'm so pleased:)