Amy, what you will see is usually dependent upon whether or not the hummers are nesting in your immediate vicinity. At my place, in suburban New Orleans, there are no nesting Ruby-throateds. Therefore, I will see a smattering of northbound migrants in March, April, and early May. Then, as all the migrants finish passing, I will go 4-6 weeks before seeing any more. At present, I have not observed a hummer since early May.
Very occasionally, I might see one high up in a Trumpet Creeper that I can see from the computer or at a neighbor's Mimosa. However, that has not been the case this spring. I will have to wait until late June or early July before I see any.
In early July, I begin seeing post-breeding dispersers or southbound migrants. The hummers may be few and far between at that point and mostly, they will not be using feeders. Later in the month, I expect to see more. Then, the garden will get busier in August and very busy in September. In July and August, I concentrate my observations on the flowers as there will be few feeder junkies at that time. In September, the demand for nectar will be great as the majority of the population will be rushing to head south while natural nectar sources are at their peak. Feeders can be busy in September.
Patience is a virtue, but it helps to understand the pattern of occurrences. During the peak of the breeding season, females will require more insect food to provide protein to the rapidly growing youngsters. They will spend more time in wooded areas near water rather than using the feeders.
Last week at my spring/summer/fall banding site, we only saw a couple of females very briefly and we failed to catch any. Today, we caught 2 adult males, saw one more male and a couple of females. I did not see either of the females approach a feeder. We are about 1/4 mile from the swamps where they nest and we have not yet seen any youngsters though there should be fledged young about soon. We expect to see the first of the class of 2009 by the first or second week of June.
Keep the faith. They will come, if you've provided the food for them.
Nancy L Newfield
Metairie, Louisiana USA
USDA Zone 9