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Nature Notebook – Hummingbird Arrival

Hummingbirds are arriving back to southwest Michigan after long migratory journeys from southern Florida or Central America. These late spring migrants, some of which cross the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight, can be seen feeding from nectar rich flowers and backyard feeders.

While the occasional vagrant may appear, Michigan’s only nesting hummingbird is the ruby-throated hummingbird. These mostly green-feathered birds (males have a ruby red throat patch) are about three inches long and beat their wings around 53 times A SECOND. A lot of energy is required to keep up with their high metabolism. The most important food sources for these tiny birds are nectar-producing flowers and small flying insects.

We can delight in the sight of these birds close to home by putting up our own nectar feeders to offer an additional food source (red flowered ones attract them the best). You don’t need store bought food or red dye to attract them.

Mix ¼ cup table sugar and 1 cup water and slightly heat on the stove until the sugar dissolves. Allow the mixture to cool. I like to make bigger batches and keep the extras in the fridge. Routine maintenance is a must, as the mixture can mold and cause serious illness in the birds. Change your water and clean the feeder at least every three days or sooner if it’s in the sun.