For many years I had a recurring dream about a hummingbird. He would come and tap on my back door with his beak, tap tap, tap tap, until I would wander down only to see him flash his bright colors, spread his wings, and fly away. I’ve been told that my dream was a good omen,  and many a Native American story would support this. I only know that they are one of many awe inspiring marvels of nature that we have the pleasure of witnessing once the days start growing warmer. 

The migration north for the hummingbird from the tropics, Mexico or Central America is staggered, the males usually arriving first. To be prepared for the hummers, before the weather begins to warm, it’s a good idea to dig out your feeders and do a thorough cleaning with hot water and a bottle brush. While you can purchase nectar, why not make it yourself? It’s less expensive and will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The standard ratio is 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. The mixture is brought to a boil and then cooled. No need for red food coloring or other additives.  Remember to clean your feeders every few days, maybe more often in the hottest months. Occasionally you might see the development of black mold inside the feeder – don’t worry, it’s very normal considering the environment both inside and outside the feeder. Just clean it thoroughly once again with the hot water and the bottle brush.

While hummingbirds only have a lifespan of around 3-5 years, they have the innate ability to return each season to the same location to feed and nest, so pick a safe location out of the wind and direct sun, perhaps near some tree or shrub cover and not farther than 3 feet from glass windows. Hummingbirds fly at about 30 mph and can reach speeds of up to 60 mph, so a window strike will most assuredly be fatal and there is less likelihood of this happening if the birds don’t have the ability to get a flying start upon leaving the feeder. Another option is a window-mounted feeder, which does double duty – prevents the birds from gaining the speed that would make a window strike fatal AND provides you the ability to do some serious bird watching. Remember also that hummingbirds are very territorial so it’s best to place several feeders in your yard in different locations out of sight from each other.  Now, let the feeding begin!