[Masthead] Partly Cloudy ~ 91°F  
Feels like: 96°F
Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

Goodbye, hummers!

Posted Monday, October 15, 2012, at 7:25 AM

It's time for us to say so long to the hummers. The major season is over, although you will see a few for the next 3-4 weeks. The hummers that come here to breed have already left, so what you will see now are the birds migrating from further north.

The birds are headed back to Central America, where they will enjoy a winter that will be far better than ours! From here the route is approximately 500 miles long and involves crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Since they fly almost non-stop, prior to leaving they have increased their body mass by almost 100%.

Be sure to bring your feeders in before cold temperatures can potentially cause breakage. CLEAN those feeders well - get rid of all traces of mold. Use a tablespoon of bleach mixed with water to help with cleaning.

Don't forget - your feeder accessibility does not affect hummingbird migration.

Did you know - the 'shimmery' colors of their feathers is caused by a special row of cells along the feathers which catch sunlight, much like a prism? It is similar to the way an oil sheen works.


Comments
Showing most recent comments first
[Show in chronological order instead]

Thanks Vicky. So they live here and winter in the south. Not unlike our 'snowbirds'from the frozen nawth...

-- Posted by moonwalker on Mon, Oct 22, 2012, at 3:21 PM

Hi, Moonwalker! Good to hear from you. I saw a female ruby-throat in my yard just yesterday.

To answer your questions about migration, here is what I know: There is scientific evidence that shows some hummers originated in pre-historic North American before the Ice Age, when it was a tropical environment. Hummers are carnivores, meaning most of their nutrition comes from insects. As our temperatures cooled during the various Ice Ages, the hummers began to migrate from here to Central and South America to meet their nutritional needs.

We tend to think that hummers start in South America and come here, but actually they start here and go south for the winter. It's a different way of looking at it.

Hummers have 1-2 batches of babies each breeding season, and usually lay 1-3 eggs each time. Baby hummers mature very quickly. From hatching to fledging it is only 2-3 weeks. Once they are able to fly, their parents teach them to self feed, and they are independent. If they don't voluntarily leave home at that point, their parents will happily show them the door. Much like people and their grown children, I suppose. Hit the road, get your place, fend for yourself!

I had not heard that Audubon was responsible for that rumor! Shame on him! Who started the tale that hummers don't have legs? LOL

-- Posted by wildwoman on Mon, Oct 22, 2012, at 7:49 AM

I am in Wisconsin. I saw my last hummer in late Sept., I didn't take the feeders down right away and you are so right about the mold. The bleach water thing is my answer to many things.

Vicky I am interested in knowing more about the breeding. Why do they travel so far, Is it just to breed? How do the new 'babies' know just when to leave. It is one of the most beautiful circles of life.

Btw, I read someplace that James Audubon started that rumor of hummers hitching. Long story.

Keep up your good work.

-- Posted by moonwalker on Sun, Oct 21, 2012, at 5:25 PM

Yes, they do remember specific stops, especially if the yield is good!

-- Posted by wildwoman on Thu, Oct 18, 2012, at 4:37 PM

This morning I got buzzed by a late traveler and it made me want to ask why she chose my little opening in the woods to seek refreshment.

Since it seems that I read they often return to previous nesting spots, do they also remember their rest stops going and returning?

If so, I need to make a rest-top sign that says "Welcome Travelers". I had one yesterday that I would swear was looking at me in the window. Maybe saying hello and I did not realize it. Next time I'll wave.

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Oct 18, 2012, at 9:47 AM

We've gotten with a foot or so of them and one hit our window last year. We got to hold him for about 15 minutes while he recovered, which he did,so all was good.

caligal I believe you have responded to some blogs a while back. Maybe last year or even before, so I need to say welcome back.

I brought it up for the same reason wildwoman caught, you mentioned multiple varieties. When I lived in California I had my head buried in work and lived in an apartment, so my nature observances were basically walks in the desert. Things were not blooming so my wildlife viewings were slim, except for roadrunners.

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at 2:11 PM

My wife and I really enjoyed the hummers company when we were having coffee on the deck the past few weeks. Hate to see them go, the entertainment value, watching them become so protective of the feeder, was priceless.

-- Posted by docudrama on Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at 2:00 PM

I thought you might be, since you mentioned so many hummer varieties!

-- Posted by wildwoman on Wed, Oct 17, 2012, at 12:13 PM

Stevemills, I'm from there so I know what you mean about all the sugar. Did "caligal" tell you I am "way West"? You are right......

-- Posted by caligal on Tue, Oct 16, 2012, at 3:10 PM

I believe you are West (maybe way West) of here, right?

Here in Tennessee if you purchase that much sugar you are looked at with a raised eyebrow and a lot of folks following you to see what you are making. LOL

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Oct 16, 2012, at 11:38 AM

Wildwoman, I don't have any choice about changing the water so frequently....the hummers empty them in several hours! My sugar bill is outrageous because I make my own mixture, but it is a labor of love. I don't live in a rural area. I have every variety of hummer. They are beautiful.

-- Posted by caligal on Tue, Oct 16, 2012, at 8:48 AM

Hi, Caligirl!

I am so glad to hear from a hummer lover who changes their sugar water out so frequently. There are a lot of people who do not realize how important it is to keep that water fresh!

Are you in a more rural area?

-- Posted by wildwoman on Tue, Oct 16, 2012, at 7:47 AM

I have five feeders and there is "hovering room only." I fill them twice a day. I live in a warmer climate than Shelbyville so they do stick around longer here. They are so entertaining and beautiful to watch. We leave one large feeder out in the winter months for those few lingering around. But they have been coming back for 15 years. I have a lot of flowers and roses in the garden so they feed on those also. Love them.

-- Posted by caligal on Mon, Oct 15, 2012, at 9:02 PM

Yes, Steve, that was it. A lot of people believe the birds will not leave if there are feeders available. This is not true.

I have certainly heard some interesting old wives' tales over the years. One I ran across recently was the fabled hummingbirds catching a ride on top of another bird....

They will return to the old nest as long as it has not been damaged.

The hummer I saw had a "See you in Costa Rica" shirt...LOL

-- Posted by wildwoman on Mon, Oct 15, 2012, at 4:20 PM

Here is another hummer of a question, do they use the same nest?

I run across the nests as I do shrub trimming and was just curious.

-- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Oct 15, 2012, at 10:01 AM

I saw one a few days ago with an I Love New York sweater on. LOL

I am watching one right now perching on the feeder (no competition). By saying that the feeders do not affect their migration, do you mean not to worry about holding them longer than they should because of our feeder supplying them with food?

-- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Oct 15, 2012, at 10:00 AM


Respond to this blog

Posting a comment requires free registration. If you already have an account, enter your username and password below. Otherwise, click here to register.

Username:

Password:  (Forgot your password?)

Your comments:
Please be respectful of others and try to stay on topic.


Vicky Carder is a Shelbyville native. In 1991 she founded Walden's Puddle Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Nashville. There she served as Executive Director for more than 12 years. The Center is the largest wildlife hospital in Middle Tennessee. She has published in wildlife national and international journals. Now she wants to share her knowledge of native wildlife and some of the experiences she had while working with wildlife.
Hot topics
Hummer Update
(16 ~ 6:01 PM, Jun 19)

Woody the Woodpecker
(9 ~ 6:13 PM, May 28)

Cedar Waxwings
(8 ~ 11:56 AM, Apr 9)

Ladybug Luck
(4 ~ 12:45 PM, Jan 23)

Winter Cold
(7 ~ 12:52 PM, Jan 14)