Hummingbirds are taking center stage in backyards across the state. More than likely you are seeing more hummingbirds swirling around your feeders right now than at any other time this year. While this is impressive, we all know that the numbers of birds visiting our feeder will increase before they finally depart for their winter quarters.
Whenever lots of hummingbirds are scuffling with one another to feed at your feeders, the chance of the birds striking a window dramatically increases. Here are a few tips that will help you deal with a bird that flies into a window
If the hapless bird lands in a spot where it will not become covered with ants, is in the shade, or will not be grabbed by a cat or other predator, leave it alone. If it is note severely injured it will eventually fly away.
On the other hand, if you feel the bird needs to be moved to a safe location, gently pick it up, and place it in a paper bag or shoebox. If you place it in a bag, loosely fold over the top of the bag. This will permit air to circulate into the bag and keep the bird from prematurely flying out of the bag once it recovers.
If you place the hummingbird in a shoebox, poke several air holes in box.
Place the bag in a dark, quiet location and wait. If the bird is only stunned, in about an hour or two, check on its condition. Once it revives and seems alert, take it outside, place it on the palm of your hand, and let it fly away. Do not be surprised if the bird does not immediately take to the air. I have seen hummers wait a few minutes before finally taking flight.
On the other hand, if the bird seems alert but has injured a wing or its bill, contact a wildlife rehabilitator.
When a hummingbird doesn’t show any signs of life, it is probably dead.
Nowadays it is difficult to believe that folks did not always believe ruby-throated hummingbirds migrated. However, unbelievably, it would be safe to say that during the 1600s it was indeed the prevailing belief among the early colonists.
There is no better proof of this than the Pennsylvania Cylopedia published in 1651. This reference book states the lives of hummingbirds ended when the flowers stopped blooming in the fall. Faced with a lack of food, hummingbirds would then simply thrust the sharp bills into the trunks of trees. Here they would remain motionless throughout the entire winter. Once winter eased its frigid grip on the land and the rejuvenating rains of spring drenched the land, hummingbirds would miraculously spring back to life and fly away.
Whenever I read such a bizarre story, I cannot help but wonder how such a belief surfaced. Obviously, no one has even seen a hummingbird overwintering with its bill stuck in a tree.
For days, our attention has been focused on Hurricane Irma and its unbelievably strong winds. During the last few days as we have been awaiting the arrival of this terrible storm, the wind has increased significantly. This has made flying difficult for the hummingbirds gorging themselves at our feeders. Although wind gusts have already exceeded 20 mph, they will dramatically increase as the storm races toward Georgia. With that in mind, have you ever wondered how strong the wind has to be to ground these tiny aerialists? The answer may surprise you.
Obviously, they cannot fly in hurricane-force winds. The truth of the matter is when biologist placed hummingbirds in a wind tunnel; they found they could not sustain flight against headwinds that exceed 27 mph. When the wind soars above this threshold, hummingbirds seek the cover provided by the thick foliage of a shrub or tree.
Throughout most portions of the state, the numbers of ruby-throated hummingbirds visiting backyard feeders peaked a couple of weeks ago. Although most of us are still hosting lots of hummers, it is obvious that these beautiful birds will not be with us much longer. That begs the question, “When will the last of the rubythroats abandon our feeders?” Here is the answer.
We will continue to see good numbers of rubythroats for the next few weeks. The vast majority of these birds will be adult females and immature males and females.
By the end of the month, many folks will have seen their last ruby-throated hummingbird of the year. However, some will still be seen during the month of October.
If you see a hummingbird from November through the end of February, chances are it will not be a rubythroat.
A very small number of ruby-throated hummingbirds do winter in the Peach state each year, but they are very uncommon. In fact, the most common hummingbird seen during the winter in Georgia is the rufous hummingbird.
With that in mind, keep at least of your feeders stocked with food throughout the year. Late migrants will benefit from a readily available source of food as they wing their way south ahead of winter. In addition, your feeders might be used by a wintering rubythroat or even attract one of the western hummingbirds that visit our state in winter.
Lately it seems like everywhere I go folks are talking about how many hummingbirds are visiting their backyard feeders. Indeed, it seems there is no shortage of these small, flying dynamos invading Georgia backyards this summer. With that in mind, most hummingbird fanciers would like to know how many hummingbirds they are feeding.
Several years ago, an Arizona hummingbird fancier named Stephen Russell came up with a novel way to estimate the numbers of hummingbirds feeding in his backyard. This technique is based on the amount of hummingbird food the birds consume. Here is how it works.
I will not go into all of the calculations he used to determine how many birds a gallon of hummingbird food mixed at a ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water will feed. Suffice it to say he determined that a quart of hummingbird nectar will feed 137.25 birds.
Therefore, if you know how much food disappears from your feeders in a day’s time, you can easily calculate how many birds you are feeding. For example, if the birds consume a pint of nectar in a day, your are feeding roughly 68 hummers.
If you try this technique, let me know what you think of the estimate obtained using the Russell formula.
There are literally hundreds of varieties of salvias. With so many available, it is difficult to choose which one you need to plant in your yard. If you want salvia that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies such as the cloudless sulphur, I have just the one for you.
In spite of the fact that the vast majority of the salvias are native to Mexico, Africa, South America, Eurasia, and elsewhere, the one I am recommending is native to parts of the Southeast, including Georgia. Like so many of the salvias, it is called red salvia or scarlet sage. However, the one I am referring to bears the scientific name Salvia coccinea.
This plant grows one to two feet tall and blooms from late spring into the fall. Bright red blossoms are borne on tall slender stalks. If you take a close look at a flower, you will find it is tubular in shape.
It grows in a wide range of soils ranging from sandy to clay-laden. It will grow in gardens situated in full sun as well the shade.
Scarlet sage plants can be established from both seed and seedlings. Seedlings are readily available at many nurseries. It can also be easily grown from seed. In fact, once it becomes established it usually reseeds itself year after year.
My wife and I have grown it in large pots, patches and mixed in with other butterfly and hummingbird nectar plants. The versatile plant has done well in all situations.
Since the numbers of hummingbirds has increased dramatically during the past week or so, we have been enjoying watching hummingbirds visiting the bright red blossoms of red salvia and the other hummingbird nectar plants that are currently blooming in profusion in our yard.
Although have been seeing more butterflies in our backyard lately, cloudless sulphurs remain scarce. As such, cloudless sulphurs have yet to be seen at our scarlet sage blooms. However, I know that, as we move toward autumn, the cloudless sulphur population will explode and ruby-throated hummingbirds will then be vying with cloudless sulphurs for the opportunity to nectar at our red salvia.
I have purchased plants purported to be red salvia that were far from hummingbird and butterfly magnets. Perhaps they were cultivars of Salvia coccinea that simply don’t produce as much nectar as the true native red salvia.
If you find and plant the right one, I don’t think you will be disappointed.