By Donna L. Cole
It happened on Tuesday – the first notification I’ve seen that hummers are back. This one was posted on the MD Notable Bird Sightings & Discussion Group and the bird was seen in St. Mary’s County. EBird also has reports to our south – in Virginia. Get ready, Anne Arundel!
Let’s talk hummingbirds. They really are magical, small birds, fluttering here, there and everywhere and doing it with astounding speed and purpose. They’re captivating, cute and colorful. In Maryland, according to www.humingbirds.net (which also has a very cool map for tracking migration), we get the Ruby-throated, Rufous and Calliope. EBird seems to agree with that, but Rufous and Calliope are less common than Ruby-throated.
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “You can attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to your backyard by setting up hummingbird feeders or by planting tubular flowers. Make sugar water mixtures with about one-quarter cup of sugar per cup of water. Food coloring is unnecessary; table sugar is the best choice. Change the water before it grows cloudy or discolored and remember that during hot weather, sugar water ferments rapidly to produce toxic alcohol. Be careful about where you put your hummingbird feeders, as some cats have learned to lie in wait to catch visiting hummingbirds.”
In addition to nectar, they eat insects too. There’s some fascinating information about Ruby-throated hummingbirds here – http://www.hummingbirds.net/rubythroated.html.
And this video is an absolute must – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fouo6GKGBIM
Below: Ruby-throated hummingbird. Credit – Louise McLaughlin, National Park Service