I made up a fresh batch of hummingbird nectar this past week and put out the balance of my feeders. Each spring I gradually increase the number of feeders I have in my yard, so that by June I am up to eight feeders.
You might be wondering why I put out so many. Hummingbirds are incredibly territorial and aggressive. Whether you have Anna’s, black-chinned, broad-tailed or soon-to-arrive rufous hummingbirds, males love to lay claim to feeders and chase away all other hummers-including females and juveniles of their own species.
Even though there is plenty of food to go around, the instinct to defend one’s territory is difficult to overcome. If you have ever visited the Lynx Lake Café off Walker Road, perhaps you have noticed how their hummingbird feeders are in close proximity to one another and the hummingbirds seem to feed somewhat harmoniously.
The rule of thumb to attract more hummingbirds is to adopt a strategy of placing feeders closer together instead of further apart. When you have one feeder on one side of the house, and another on the other side of the house, instead of getting more hummingbirds, you tend to get two, shall we say, ‘tyrants’. One hummer guards the feeder in the front, and the other guards the feeder in the back. Placing multiple feeders close together increases the odds that one bully can’t guard all of the feeders simultaneously without running itself ragged. This summer, you might consider putting up more feeders in order to attract more hummingbirds.
During peak migration season, (August) hummingbirds seem to instinctively know that it is a waste of their precious energy to bicker and fight and chase one another when they are trying to ‘tank up’ in preparation to migrate. First thing in the morning-and especially at dusk-is when hummingbirds seem to tolerate each other and will actually sit side-by-side on feeders, all drinking at the same time.
I am already witnessing an increase in hummingbird activity in my yard. As summer wears on, there will continue to be more and more juveniles leaving the nest and joining their parents at the feeders. Additionally, migration will get under way very shortly. Each year I start getting reports of male rufous hummingbirds showing up around the end of June, so be on the lookout!
The annual Sedona Hummingbird Festival is coming up in about five weeks. We have flyers available at the stores if you want to learn more about this event. You can also access their website at www.hummingbirdsociety.org to register for presentations, birding trips, hummingbird banding and garden tours. I would not delay; this is an international event and spaces fill up fast. The event takes place from Friday, July 31 through Sunday, Aug. 2.
As you know, I strongly encourage leaving baby birds alone if you see one out of the nest. However, there are times when a baby bird needs to be rescued-particularly when it is in imminent danger, such as being in a fenced backyard with dogs, or when a nest gets blown out of a tree during a summer monsoon storm.
If you find yourself needing help with a hummingbird rescue, we have an emergency hummingbird kit available at the store that will sustain a hummingbird until you can get it to a qualified and licensed professional who can take care of the hummingbird. If you need assistance with a hummingbird rescue, please call or visit the store.
Until next week, Happy Birding!