I heard a hummingbird the other day and got very excited. I love watching the birds at my feeder and to me, it signals that spring is officially here. They are so incredible to watch, are beautiful and are incredibly unique. They are the only bird that can fly forward, backward, and upside down. These tiny little creatures come a long way to spend the summers here so I always want to make sure I have a nice resting spot and something for them to drink.
One of the most common types of hummingbird to fly around the Bulkley Valley is the rufous hummingbird. The males have orange and copper on their backs and the females have green on their backs with a white tummy. This type is small, but feisty. They are known to be aggressive and will attack and push out other hummingbirds. These birds also have an interesting migration pattern. In the spring, they fly up the coast to breed but fly back down along the Rocky Mountains. They can venture as far north as Alaska to breed and as far south as Mexico to ride out the winter.
As soon as I heard that familiar buzzing sound, I quickly got out my feeders and cleaned them. I use hot water and a tiny bit of white vinegar to clean them. Cleaning with any type of soap can deter hummingbirds because of the residue it leaves. I’ve discovered that glass feeders are easier to clean and don’t fade as fast as the plastic ones.
Having a feeder that is easy to clean is crucial. Hummingbirds need a clean feeder. They should be cleaned out at least once a week and twice a week if it is warm or the feeder is in the direct sun. Black mould can grow quickly and it is extremely harmful to a bird. Some types of mould can cause a hummingbird’s tongue to swell, not allowing it to feed anymore and then eventually starve to death.
Once my feeders were cleaned, I filled them up. The best, most inexpensive and easiest solution is a 1:4 of white sugar to tap water. I boil one cup of water and add a quarter cup of sugar, and then let it come to room temperature before putting it in the feeder. There is no need to add red food colouring. I don’t like to make a lot because I don’t want to waste it when I clean the feeder. Even if there is no sign of mould, I always take it down and rinse it at least once a week. I don’t want to be responsible for the death of a hummingbird.
I was surprised this year at how much interest my young daughters have taken in watching the birds as well. I told them they had to sit quietly near the feeder in order to see one and I have never seen them sit so still for so long.
They got so excited when one came they ended up scaring it away, but it filled me with so much joy to see them take interest in something that interests me. There is nothing better than sharing a hobby with your children.
If you’ve ever wondered why you might have hummingbirds in the beginning of the season and then they seem to disappear for a couple of weeks, it is likely because they are nesting. Continue to put out your homemade nectar and keep cleaning the feeder, even if it means dumping out the solution.
I often will switch out my feeder for a hanging basket of flowers they like around this time. Hummingbirds are primarily attracted to long tubular flowers and anything brightly coloured.
Watching the birds is worth the work.
Some say seeing a hummingbird will bring joy, or that good news or good luck is on its way.