I’ve always been intrigued by hummingbirds — enjoying their undisguised curiosity as I relax on the front porch of our house. But like most people, I knew next to nothing about why they do what they do beyond that watchful gaze, clear enjoyment of an easy meal and their entertaining mid-flight battles for territory.
In this part of the country, it’s the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird that is most common. That’s where Bill Hilton Jr. and “Operation Ruby Throat” come in.
I’ve been fortunate to participate in one of Bill’s clinics through the Hummingbird Festival. He’s a wealth of knowledge, and most importantly, he loves to share it with anyone who is genuinely interested in learning about these unique birds.
My timing of this blog is slightly off since hummingbirds living in our region of the United States have departed. Similar to some “snow-birds”, hummingbirds live internationally, traveling between North America and Mexico or Central America. And they won’t be back until April of this year, March if you live south of North Carolina.
Despite that fact, proper feeding etiquette can be learned any time. Just so we’re clear, my knowledge on this topic comes from Bill himself, his hummingbird feeding hints and the “Operation Ruby Throat” website.
To start, don’t waste your money on store-bought nectar. White table sugar and water are the only ingredients. That means don’t add red food coloring. I know — it’s hard to resist. With my first batch, it seemed as if the hummers were not interested in what I had to offer. But my patience prevailed. The red hardware with which most feeders come equipped should be all that’s needed.
- Pour 4 cups of water into a microwave safe glass bowl – a bowl that can handle boiling water.
- Heat it for about 3 minutes.
- Add 1 level cup of white table sugar, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. The water will still appear cloudy.
- Return the bowl to the microwave, and heat for an additional 3 to 4 minutes so it boils again. Boiling helps keep mixture from molding.
- Allow mix to cool to room temperature; then pour into your feeders.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
So now you are ready for their arrival. Be sure to have your feeders up by mid-March to welcome any early arrivals.
For more details about feeding hummingbirds or creating your own hummingbird habitat, visit the “Operation Ruby Throat” website. You’ll find all you need to know to get started.