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MeInDallas

Hummingbird Feeders Spring 2019

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So spring is weeks away, and it's coming on really fast here in the Dallas area. I'll have to mow my grass (weeds) this week for the first time in my backyard. I looked on the calendar, and last year I put my first feeder out on March 13th. I learned a big lesson about using sugar water vs the bottle of red mess you buy in the store. My opinion is sugar water works much better and is cheaper.

I'm curious, when will you be putting your hummingbird feeder(s) out, or are you able to feed year round? I wish I could get them year round, but I do have a lot because of the migration thru Texas. If you have been feeding them a long time, do you have more and more over the years?

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We normally put our feeders out the first week of April. I am in Kaufman County east of Dallas. We have always used sugar water too. The color red has no affect on them finding or coming to the feeders, which I guess you already know. I don't know that I can say whether we get more and more each year. I think it has more to do with the population, time on migration and amount of feeders you have out. The more feeders you have, the more birds you have.

I wish we have more variety of hummers in our area. I get ruby's all day long, but the only other we have a chance to see is Black-chinned. Sibley's does say there is a rare chance to see Broad-Tailed and Rufous, but I'm not holding my breath. lol

 

Good luck this year!! 👍

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I'm in central SC.  I usually put my feeders out in mid- to late March.  I don't fill the feeder for the first month or so, since there aren't enough birds here yet to eat it all before it goes bad.

For those who may find this discussion and don't know, you can make your own hummie food and save a lot of money over the stuff in the stores.  Just boil 1/4 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water (or other portions of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water).  Use only sugar; no food coloring and no honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, artificial sweeteners, or anything else.  Just sugar and water.

I bought a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup exclusively for hummie food.  I measure 1/2 cup of sugar and then fill the measuring cup to the 1.5 cup mark.  (Yes, I know that's not enough water; stay with me).  After I nuke the mix for 3 minutes, I add enough ice cubes to fill to the 2 cup mark.  The ice helps cool the mixture down so I don't have to wait for it to cool before I put it in the feeders.  Since I'm not using it all at once, I can stretch plastic wrap over it and refrigerate what's left.

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First week in May here in Northern Vermont.

The current year's calendar hasn't started yet, but I use this map to watch them approach from the south.  As of right now it still shows last year's sightings, but as they start to be reported this year a new map will appear.

http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html

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Here in Georgia, there are reports of a few stray hummingbirds already, although I probably won't put mine out for a few more weeks.

I've read a lot about the red dye, and there is thinking out there that it may be harming the birds, so I don't take the risk. Homemade is so much cheaper, anyway.

 

Edited by meghann
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They arrive in cental alabama on the third week of March every year. I watch them on the hummingbird tracker website too. I had a few more in 2018 than I did in 2017. They babies that are born around the feeders come back so if you feed every year you should theoretically see more and more every passing year. 

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The first female ruby-throats have arrived from across the gulf!    The hummingbirds.net map should be up and running for 2019 soon.  The guys that does it has not put it out yet. 

Here is another website that does all species... Not just ruby-throats.   I like the other tracker better but I only live where there are ruby-throats so I am biased. 

https://www.hummingbirdcentral.com/hummingbird-migration.htm

 

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On 2/27/2019 at 4:06 PM, tclarkwood said:

The first female ruby-throats have arrived from across the gulf!    The hummingbirds.net map should be up and running for 2019 soon.  The guys that does it has not put it out yet. 

Here is another website that does all species... Not just ruby-throats.   I like the other tracker better but I only live where there are ruby-throats so I am biased. 

https://www.hummingbirdcentral.com/hummingbird-migration.htm

 

1st male hummingbirds, not female... I got my sexes crossed up. 

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Sounds like this is true.  The hummingbird.net site says this:

Google has stopped offering free, anonymous use of its map API, which partially automated the location of sightings by zip/postal code using a utility a smart fellow wrote for me (and which I do not understand). I am not interested in fundraising, learning API programming, or opening a Google developer account. As a result, producing this map is no longer practical, and I'm not looking for alternatives. Thanks to all of you for your participation and support over 23 migration seasons, and my apologies for any inconvenience.

If you want to know when migrants will reach your location, the historical maps are still available for reference. I encourage you to follow the migration and report your sightings at the Journey North website.

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I have hummers all year, but the numbers and species vary a lot. It's the "slow" season now; I only have two species (White-Eared and Rivoli's) and there are not so many, so I only have one feeder out, and it takes several days for it to empty. In April the Rufous Sabrewings should show up, and in July the Mexican Violetears, and in September migrating Ruby-Throateds. From then until December I have all five species, and I have to put out 3 or 4 feeders and refill every couple of days. The Sabrewings and Violetears leave by the end of December, and some Ruby-Throateds may linger into January, but I'm at a higher elevation than their preferred wintering sites so not many. Interestingly, I've nver seen any on the return migration.

I have definitely had increases over time. I happened to put up my first feeder during Ruby-Throated migration in the fall, and I got them immediately; but once they were gone it was several months before I started getting local species. It was several years before I got all five species. Interestingly too, I probably get 10 male Rivoli´s for every female at the feeder, and I have NEVER seen a female White-Eared at the feeders. If you're not getting birds at the feeders, try changing the location; it is always suggested to go for a spot that's visible from above but somewhat protected. I have overhangs on the roof above my terrace rooftop garden, and I hang the feeders under them.

And I totally agree with the no red coloring or special hummer food! It's really just sugar and red coloring, and ridiculously expensive. I use 1:4 (more or less; I'm not obsessive about exact measuring) plain white sugar and water. I used to boil the water, but I also boiled my own water, because the public water supplies here are not reliably treated for drinking safety. However now that I have a good water filter I don't boil anymore, for myself or for the hummers. I just mix the sugar and water together and fill the feeder(s). I do buy the expensive white sugar; most sugar here is not completely white, and the molasses in brown sugar is not good for them. I buy the cheap brownish stuff for people to consume LOL! 

My understanding on the red coloring is first of all, not necessary; I can attest to that. I have one feeder that's not red at all and they like it better than all the others! Secondly, it is suspected that the coloring may be harmful, mostly because hummers drink such a huge amount of nectar, so they will end up getting a high dosage of red coloring. Humans don't drink something approaching their body weight in liquids every day, so a safe amount of red coloring for us may not be for hummers because the dosage is so different. But mostly, it's not necessary, so why use it? Honey can have harmful microbes and encourage the growth of mold. Artificial sweeteners are very bad for hummers because the very reason they drink nectar is that they need the sugar for energy to sustain all that flying and hovering. Brown sugar, unrefined sugar, molasses, etc. are not good because again they would get an overdose of nutrients that could be harmful to them. They hunt for small insects for protein and other nutrients, and again if they are getting iron, etc. in their nectar, they would get an overdose becasue of the large amounts of nectar they drink. 

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1 hour ago, Aveschapines said:

I used to boil the water,

I nuke it simply because the sugar dissolves quicker in hot water.

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On 3/1/2019 at 3:46 PM, JP48 said:

Sounds like this is true.  The hummingbird.net site says this:

Google has stopped offering free, anonymous use of its map API, which partially automated the location of sightings by zip/postal code using a utility a smart fellow wrote for me (and which I do not understand). I am not interested in fundraising, learning API programming, or opening a Google developer account. As a result, producing this map is no longer practical, and I'm not looking for alternatives. Thanks to all of you for your participation and support over 23 migration seasons, and my apologies for any inconvenience.

If you want to know when migrants will reach your location, the historical maps are still available for reference. I encourage you to follow the migration and report your sightings at the Journey North website.

Seems like all good things come to an end at some point.  Many things that were free for years on the internet now require a fee.   Oh well.  we can use Journey North! 

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I make my nectar with spring water.  It has no treatment and no chemicals.  Just H20.   I make all my recipes, coffee and nectar with it.   94 cents a gallon at Walmart. 

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On 3/2/2019 at 11:51 AM, Charlie Spencer said:

I nuke it simply because the sugar dissolves quicker in hot water.

I don't, because usually some of the water evaporates and it then loses the proper ratio.  I find that sugar dissolves in water (room temperature) pretty fast, simply by vigorously shaking the jar. 

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4 hours ago, tclarkwood said:

I make my nectar with spring water.  It has no treatment and no chemicals.  Just H20.   I make all my recipes, coffee and nectar with it.   94 cents a gallon at Walmart. 

What about the chemicals that leach from the plastic into the water?  I was considering switching to spring water because our water is softened, but then I worried about the plastic.  And will the water "go bad" if I buy it in bulk and store it out of the fridge (a gallon will be open for a while since I don't get a ton of hummers)?  Thanks.

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6 minutes ago, The Bird Nuts said:

And will the water "go bad" if I buy it in bulk and store it out of the fridge (a gallon will be open for a while since I don't get a ton of hummers)?

 If you don't get a lot of hummers, why would you buy in bulk?  :classic_blink:

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Just now, Charlie Spencer said:

 If you don't get a lot of hummers, why would you buy in bulk?  :classic_blink:

Because we don't go shopping often.  🙂

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Posted (edited)

Buy a couple of gallons.  If it runs out before your next shopping run, switch back to the water source you're currently using.  The birds have been sipping that until now; a temporary relapse won't bother them.

Great.  Now I'm picturing two hummies talking about nectar using terms normally used by wine snobs. 

"Have you had the nectar at The Bird Nuts'?  This June vintage has some harsh overtones."

"Oh, definitely.  I thought the May pressing was crisper, and had a sugary finish. Of course, it wasn't as palatable as last September's, but you know the last pressing of year is always the sweetest."

"Hey, wait a minute!  Are you drinking from MY feeder again?!?"

<<typical hummie territorial fight breaks out>>

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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I also boil, because sugar doesn't dissolve for me otherwise. I boil with a kettle, though, because I'm not a heathen. 😂 (Then I measure out the boiled water and add the sugar and stir. Then toss what I don't use in the fridge for the week.)

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Thanks, @Charlie Spencer!  Sounds good.  Do you think it would be better to keep it refrigerated after it is opened?

2 minutes ago, meghann said:

Then I measure out the boiled water and add the sugar and stir. Then toss what I don't use in the fridge for the week.

This is what I do as well.

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23 minutes ago, meghann said:

 😂 Then I measure out the boiled water and add the sugar and stir. 

Try this experiment: Boil water, measure, let it cool, measure again.  Might not measure as much the second time.  Just sayin'.

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, Leviticus Plews said:

Try this experiment: Boil water, measure, let it cool, measure again.  Might not measure as much the second time.  Just sayin'.

I would highly doubt any small difference would make enough of an impact on the ratio of sugar and water to worry about.

 

Addendum-I make 4 cups (with 1 c sugar) at a time, as that is the amount my favorite measuring cup holds.

Edited by meghann
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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, Leviticus Plews said:

Try this experiment: Boil water, measure, let it cool, measure again.  Might not measure as much the second time.  Just sayin'.

I'm sure the proportions in flowers vary widely.

I've been known to make the first couple of batches each spring with a couple of extra tablespoons of sugar.  They've had long flights and can use the extra energy, and I want to attract their attention.

Edited by Charlie Spencer

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