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Where are the hummingbirds?

May 12 2011 at 10:13 AM
  (Login countryliving)
Hummingbirder 2010

Where are the hummingbirds? Here in middle Tennessee, I have been watching four feeders and I have only seen one hummingbird in the past seven days. It is in the 80's here now. In early April I saw several stop by and it was only 40 degrees.

 
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(Login Pennytoo)
Hummingbird Moderator 2005

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 12 2011, 10:17 AM 

Well Tom, I can tell you where they are not....they are not at my place. I have been watching three feeders

Penny
NY
USDA hardiness zone 6a/6b
Heat zone 4
Sunset zone 39
[linked image]

 
 

(Login hawkeye_wx)
Hummingbird lover 2009

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 12 2011, 10:57 AM 

It has been four days since I last saw one. The last two years suggest I should be seeing a couple females in the next two weeks so I'll keep an eye out.

Dan
Zone 5
East-central Iowa

 
 

(Login NLN)
Hummingbird Member 2005

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 12 2011, 11:03 AM 

For some of us, Ruby-throateds are on the nesting grounds and IF they do not nest in our immediate vicinity, the only ones we will see are migrants and post-breeding wanderers. Here in suburban New Orleans, most migrants have already passed and hummers do not nest closer than a couple of miles away. I saw one around the first of May and I saw one Mother's Day. I expect it to remain quiet until the end of June or early July.

At my banding site north of Lake Pontchartrain, 'business' has been better than it was last year, but the birds do not nest in the yard and we do not expect to see a lot of birds until later on when the young fledge. Nesting females will slip in to the feeders very early and their visits will be fairly brief. When they are feeding young, they need more insects than nectar.

If you are not seeing any hummers, you may want to reduce the number of feeders. If you have some flowers for them, that should be a good attraction.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Nancy L Newfield
Casa Colibrí
Metairie, Louisiana USA
USDA Zone 9
[linked image]

 
 

(Login Stevenindy)
Hummingbird lover 2007

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 12 2011, 11:27 AM 

I also am only seeing very spotty hummer sightings the last few days. Im guessing there is a lot of nesting taking place at this time but come mid-june I would expect to see quite an influx of humers.

Steve
Martinsville, In
Heat zone 6
Sunset zone 35

[linked image]




 
 

(Login LindaSkyview)
Hummingbird Member 2006

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 12 2011, 2:15 PM 

I hate to say "me too", but after a very busy two-week period at all three feeders, I hardly see a hummingbird at all these days. And the only one I've spotted in the last week or so is usually a male. So, hopefully the ladies are all bringing up babies somewhere in the area.

LindaSkyview
Western NC mountains
Zone 6b - Sunset Zone 36 - Heat Zone 4,5,6
[linked image]

 
 

(Login Naturelover68)
Hummingbird lover 2009

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 12 2011, 2:25 PM 

I'm also only seeing birds a couple of times a day at my feeders. I don't think they could be nesting here already because they just got here. I'm definitely seeing a lot less birds than I did last year at this time. I'm hoping that they are just behind in their migration because of the cold weather and that more will still arrive.

Gary
Napoleon, OH
Zone 5b/6a
Napoleon.gif

 
 

(Login NLN)
Hummingbird Member 2005

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 12 2011, 3:36 PM 

Gary said: "I'm also only seeing birds a couple of times a day at my feeders. I don't think they could be nesting here already because they just got here. I'm definitely seeing a lot less birds than I did last year at this time. I'm hoping that they are just behind in their migration because of the cold weather and that more will still arrive."

NLN: Each year, each season has different factors, yet some things are the same year after year and complaints about the lack of hummers from mid-May until late June is nearly universal. I'm sure each of us rejoices when we see our first of the season. Whether it is early March or mid-May, it is an event. We should remember though that our first sighting is just that our first sighting. How often do birds arrive while we are off at work or tending to family chores or on vacation at some exotic locale? How often might there be one at the feeder while we are looking at a different feeder or some flowers on the opposite side of the house? How often does the first arrival stop at a neighbor's place that lacks most of the amenities we work so hard to provide? I don't know, but I see the same pattern year after with slight [sometimes very slight] variations.

In my experience, males begin setting up their territories within hours of arriving at their ultimate destination. I have found females carrying eggs within just a few days of the first sighting at our banding site. Migration might be running a bit late, but we see only very tiny pieces of a puzzle that has about 8,000,000 interlocking pieces!

On 14 May 2009, when I was already into the period when I see little hummer activity at my place, a friend and I travelled to southern Cameron Parish right on the Gulf of Mexico. We were in saltmarsh, an environment with no nesting hummers, and we observed literally hundreds of northbound hummers freshly arrived from the tropics. It really is difficult to know what our birds are doing.

Sorry some folks don't have birds right now, but be patient. They will do what they must do and we will be rewarded later on. In my microscopic view of this year's migration, it is better than last year's movement, but keep in mind that I am only seeing a very tiny portion of our hummers' lives.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Nancy L Newfield
Casa Colibrí
Metairie, Louisiana USA
USDA Zone 9
[linked image]

 
 

(Login kathijr)
Hummingbird Member 2006

Where are the hummingbirds?

May 12 2011, 5:05 PM 

We have had very good hummingbird action in our yard this week for this time of the year. We are presently only seeing males.

Someone on our mailing list sent us the following information:

"Have you heard that there are fewer females since the oil spill? A friend, who is an environmental attorney, said he had been told that by Nina Leopold Bradley and that it had something to do with Gulf Coast migratory habitat that the ruby-throated hummingbirds needed."

Is anyone familiar with this information and how it might affect the hummingbirds we'll see in our gardens this season? Thank you.


[linked image]

[linked image]

Kathi and Michael Rock
Madison, Wisconsin
Zone 4/5
[linked image]

 
 

(Login hawkeye_wx)
Hummingbird lover 2009

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 12 2011, 6:17 PM 

I said earlier, "It has been four days since I last saw one. The last two years suggest I should be seeing a couple females in the next two weeks so I'll keep an eye out."

I was just watching an oriole splash around in the bath when a male hummer dropped out of the tree. I assumed most adult males would know how to use a feeder, but this one didn't. He poked at the red cup on the shepherd hook, then poked at the red ant moat and the top of the First Nature feeder, then tried to feed from a pot of geraniums(don't know if there is any nectar) before flying off. This sighting is an example of why many of us probably are getting a few more visits than we think. If I didn't stop to watch the bathing oriole for 30 seconds I never would have known about the hummer visit.

Dan
Zone 5
East-central Iowa

 
 


(Login Pennytoo)
Hummingbird Moderator 2005

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 12 2011, 6:28 PM 

Kathi
I bet if anyone has any info on the effects of the Gulf oil spill on the Ruby throated hummingbirds and their habitat in that area, it will be Nancy. In fact I seem to recall that she was writing a report or had a report that may possibly have that information. I can't say that for certain mind you but that is what came to my mind when I read your post.

Penny
NY
USDA hardiness zone 6a/6b
Heat zone 4
Sunset zone 39
[linked image]

 
 

(Login NLN)
Hummingbird Member 2005

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 12 2011, 8:30 PM 

Dan said: "I was just watching an oriole splash around in the bath when a male hummer dropped out of the tree. I assumed most adult males would know how to use a feeder, but this one didn't. He poked at the red cup on the shepherd hook, then poked at the red ant moat and the top of the First Nature feeder, then tried to feed from a pot of geraniums(don't know if there is any nectar) before flying off. This sighting is an example of why many of us probably are getting a few more visits than we think. If I didn't stop to watch the bathing oriole for 30 seconds I never would have known about the hummer visit."

NLN: You made my point. We don't see them on every visit. Often observations are really chance encounters.

You said that you would assume that most adult males would know how to use a feeder. Not so. First, lots of hummers never learn to use feeders. Nearly all birds out there now are adults since few young have fledged, not even down here. Now, your bird might well have hatched last year. Even though he might be less than a year old, he has gotten his full plumage and he is indistinguishable from his sire. Now, suppose he grew up in dense woodlands, where he lived a life of luxury sipping Trumpet Creeper nectar. Then, he followed the path of Trumpet Creepers down the coast of Texas to Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua, or Costa Rica. How many feeders would he have encountered once he had his passport stamped in Mexico? Darn few, I'll bet. Maybe he'll learn. Maybe not.

Kathi wrote: "Someone on our mailing list sent us the following information:

'Have you heard that there are fewer females since the oil spill? A friend, who is an environmental attorney, said he had been told that by Nina Leopold Bradley and that it had something to do with Gulf Coast migratory habitat that the ruby-throated hummingbirds needed.'

Is anyone familiar with this information and how it might affect the hummingbirds we'll see in our gardens this season?"

NLN: Kathi, I have no direct knowledge one way or the other, but I find it difficult to believe that the oil spill could have affected very many hummingbirds at all, not to mention mostly females. I have to confess, I have not gone down to the coast.

In Louisiana, where most of the damage occurred, the worst of it was east of Vermilion Bay. The most affected habitats were barrier islands, coastal marshes, and beaches. The birds that were most affected were waterbirds, shorebirds, and resident marsh birds. Hummers just do not use the aforementioned habitats a lot. They make good use of the coastal cheniers, but those areas did not receive much, if any, oiling.

Last spring, most of northward migration for hummers hit the coast before oil started washing up. Southward migration will follow the coast to a degree, but hummers just don't use the beaches and marshes much and not in a way that would put them in contact with oil. West of Vermilion Bay and the Texas coast received little to no oil. I would be very curious to know the facts of this.

Kathi, I really doubt that many Wisconsin hummers even come through Louisiana. I believe most of your hummers just go down the Texas coast.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Nancy L Newfield
Casa Colibrí
Metairie, Louisiana USA
USDA Zone 9
[linked image]

 
 

(Login Stevenindy)
Hummingbird lover 2007

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 12 2011, 9:46 PM 

Seems to me I remember last year there was a dry spell at this time with not much action. But it seemed toward the end of may things began to get hot again hummerwise.

Steve
Martinsville, In
Heat zone 6
Sunset zone 35

[linked image]




 
 

(Login Naturelover68)
Hummingbird lover 2009

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 13 2011, 9:28 AM 

Nancy,

After I posted my message where I said that I didn't think they could be nesting already because they just got here, I realized that I made a dumb statement. The reason they migrate up here is to nest so why wouldn't they start nesting right away? I guess my emotions of not seeing many birds got the best of me. There probably aren't male territories in my yard because hardly anything is blooming yet. Wild columbine is the only thing blooming right now. The coral bells and trumpet honeysuckle probably won't be blooming for at least several more days so hopefully once they start blooming, the males will set up territories in my yard.

Gary
Napoleon, OH
Zone 5b/6a
Napoleon.gif

 
 

(Login Stevenindy)
Hummingbird lover 2007

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 13 2011, 11:41 AM 

Gary--- As we know the males arrive first scout out a prime spot then the females arrive then the mating or mate selecting and then the nest building. We have seen from the hummer cams how long and dilligent the females will work on the nest , it has to be just right and strong enough, appearing to take a few days. I know Im wrong on time but Im guessing about 25 days for the young to finally fledge the nest. Another guess puts them about mid-june on that we start seeing an influx of new young hummers. Im sure Im not spot on but Nancy can correct me where Im off.

 
 

(Login NLN)
Hummingbird Member 2005

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 13 2011, 12:23 PM 

Indy Steve said: "As we know the males arrive first scout out a prime spot then the females arrive then the mating or mate selecting and then the nest building. We have seen from the hummer cams how long and dilligent the females will work on the nest , it has to be just right and strong enough, appearing to take a few days. I know I'm wrong on time but I'm guessing about 25 days for the young to finally fledge the nest. Another guess puts them about mid-June on that we start seeing an influx of new young hummers. I'm sure I'm not spot on but Nancy can correct me where I'm off."

NLN: As I understand it, yes, males generally arrive first, though sometimes one just happens to see a female first. The males establish a territory based on NECTAR sources. Sometimes, FEEDERS suffice. Male territories can be rather transitory since some plants will flower but then peter out.

Females begin searching for nesting sites almost as soon as they arrive. Sometimes, they choose a site where they have nested before, if nesting was successful. They begin construction as soon as the site is established, gathering materials from the surrounding area. When the nest is well underway [6-10 days], the female goes out searching for a suitable mate. She goes to the male territories, where often, the male will permit her to eat.

I don't know what her selection criteria are, but I'm guessing she doesn't spend a lot of time at single's bars. What does she have to pick? The males do not have to prove they can defend her. They don't have to demonstrate that they can provide well. They just have to be strong and handsome. Supposedly, copulation occurs near the male territory. I have never witnessed it.

After mating, the female returns to her nearly finished nest and gets back to work, finishing most of the job by the time the first egg is ready to come. I don't know how long it is between mating and laying of the first egg, but it can't be more than a few days.

She begins incubating as soon as the first egg is laid. Generally, there is about a 48 hour interval between laying the first egg and the second. Sometimes, it can be a little longer. Laying is usually in the early morning. Incubation requires 12-14 days.

The chicks hatch naked and blind, but when fed a protein-rich diet of insects and nectar, they develop rapidly.  Pinfeathers emerge at about one week of age and the eyes open a few days later.  Nestlings leave the nest at 18-22 days of age by which time they are as large as an adult.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Nancy L Newfield
Casa Colibrí
Metairie, Louisiana USA
USDA Zone 9
[linked image]

 
 
Suchie
(Login Suchiek)
Hummingbirder 2008

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 13 2011, 12:41 PM 

Nancy,

Yesterday I witnessed the following:

A female hummer was perched on a crape myrtle and the male arrived and started doing his U dance as she crouched and watched. After about 6 rounds of the U dance she flew really low with him behind her. I was hoping to catch the mating while she was perched on the branch. Is her flying away an indication that she was not interested, or did they just move to another spot?

Suchie

 
 

(Login jumpinjon1523)
Hummingbird lover 2011

Re: Where are the hummingbirds?

May 15 2011, 1:02 AM 

Well if it makes all of you Yankees in the north feel better I put out a feeder over a month ago and still have not seen one hummer even though I've setup a motion detection webcam on my feeder. PS I also live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, which confuses me because yall live north of me and have seen 1 or more hummers, hope that before the end of this month I might capture one on video and post it here, but I will keep my feeder fresh and out all year till I see one. Jas 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.


JumpinJon

 
 

(Login Carolmb)
Hummingbird Member 2006

Where are the hummingbirds?

May 15 2011, 7:08 AM 

Amazingly I must have missed that first May sighting...at least I am sure hoping that is the case. This year so far would be the latest first siting for me if it were to occur from now on...

So many opportunities to have missed seeing one is sure to be the truth because I know there is plenty of nectar for them and now even blooms...and my life although filled with many hours looking for them has been otherwise occupied with trips to see Ken...so I will keep faith, hope and patience....till I see them hopefully in June or July. I do know my friend has her female hummingbird (although she hasn't see the male either) - she lives across the marsh in a nicely wooded area - we joke about sharing the birds back and forth...so her babes should be coming here soon! You never know...nice to dream - keeps me going. [linked image] [linked image]

Carol
Milford, CT
Zone 6
[linked image]

 
 
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