It’s the 1st week of November and that usually means one thing here in Johns Creek, GA… The hummingbirds have left.
The hummingbirds arrived right on time this year. I was tracking them as they hit Macon, GA on the 15th of March. Then like clockwork I saw them at my own backyard on March 30th.
Some of you may know that I own the Wild Bird Center of Johns Creek. The store is located in Northeast Atlanta suburbs. We are just east of the foothills that lead to Blue Ridge Mountains.
From my “perch” at the store I get to hear hummingbird stories all season long. Here is the trend that I have been hearing for the past few seasons.
The ruby-throated hummingbirds have been arriving right on time but their numbers coming through during early spring are light.
The hummers that do arrive in early spring typically don’t stick around. They are probably continuing their journey to the borel forrest in Canada.
Sometime after Mother’s Day we start to see the hummingbird activity pick up. It’s around this time that I will put up my 2nd nectar feeder.
From Mother’s Day until the middle of July the activity has been just so, so around here for the past couple of years. We are not seeing the ruby throated hummers fighting for the nectar yet. It’s appears those that are here have the feeders to themselves.
Right around late July the bulk of the birds start arriving and I will put up my 3rd and 4th feeders at this point.
From the end of July until the 2nd week of October is our busiest hummingbird period. And it is busy with hummers fighting each other all day long trying to control their favorite feeder.
My best guess is that we are not experiencing a loss of the number of hummingbirds in our area. Probably the northern flyway has shifted either to the left or right of us here in NE Atlanta. However on the hummingbirds return trip to the south our neighborhoods are right in the flight line which is why we get so busy in late summer and early fall.
Now that the hummingbirds have left go ahead and take down your nectar feeders and give them a good cleaning. Use a 5% bleach solution to kill any mold, mildew and other unwanted bacteria. Scrub the feeders out, dry them and hang them in the garage until next season.
Don’t be too sad the hummers will be back in six months!
Here in the southeast our fall weather is just about upon us. The mosquitoes and the heat are just a few days away from leaving us for months.
The ruby-throated hummingbirds have been fairly light this year. Here in NE Atlanta they arrived on time, right around the end of March but it wasn’t until late July that we saw any hanging around. My best guess is that in this region we are just in a hummingbird lull that has been happening for the last couple of years.
This should be nothing to worry about. I haven’t read any articles suggesting that our favorite jewel is on the decline. My own reasoning concerning the bird is not scientific, just an observation followed by very limited local nectar sale’s data.
With the middle of October just around the corner the last ruby-throated stragglers will soon be leaving North America. Hopefully they will have an excellent winter in Southern Mexico and Central Latin America and come back in abundance!
If you are like us at BirdReady.com then you probably feed your local bluebirds religiously. I know we do. In fact we don’t really mind if the wrens take their share, or the warblers stop for a few but the European starlings are another matter.
I agree they are God’s creatures and need substance. We get it but… they will consume the entire bowl of mealworms in a heartbeat. Just check out these two aggressively chowing down!
There is a fix for this… they’re called sanctuary feeders or another type is a caged mealworm feeder. Basically they both work the same way, if the mealworm loving bird is bluebird sized or smaller they get right in. If they are robin or starling sized well they don’t get right in.
If this is a problem of yours go to your local wild bird store and ask for a bluebird sanctuary feeder or a mealworm caged feeder. This is a simple fix that will probably save your mealworm budget and keep the bluebirds, wrens, and warblers very happy.
Living in NE Atlanta we traditionally receive only the ruby-throated hummingbird in these parts. However, occasionally during the winter, the rufous hummingbird comes to us as a lost vagrant.
I shouldn’t really say lost we’re not sure why this hummingbird is here. This small bird is found in the NW and Canada during the summers and should migrate back 3,900 miles to Mexico every winter. They migrate in a clockwise motion going up the west coast and come back down through the Rocky Mountains. How they get so far east of the Rocky Mountains during their return trip is anyone’s guess but they do on occasion show up here!
There are other hummingbird vagrants that show up as well but the rufous is the most usual of our unusual hummingbirds. Some people in Georgia see so many of them that they will keep their hummingbird feeders up all winter.
Here’s a great pic I found on Twitter. Thanks to @NaturePH0T0S for the twitter post.