Ready for the hummingbirds’ return?

By putting out a feeder at the right time, you can lure tiny acrobatic entertainers to your yard for the summer.

Michael Wiens is the author of “Jewel of the North”, a Canadian guidebook about ruby-throated hummingbirds. He says “Early May is a perfect time to put out feeders, with expectations of seeing them from May 5 - 12 (the early birds).”

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Hummingbirds are fine dining guests and with a strategically hung feeder you can watch their comings and goings from your kitchen or dining room window, or deck.

Their family activities, bickering noisily at the feeder, becomes entertaining drama particularly in summer as the young birds start coming to the feeders.

Imagine these nine cm (3.5-inch) birds flying from the shores of the Gulf of Mexico to Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Bad weather and strong headwinds will affect their success and lengthen their journey to their Canadian homes.

“It’s good to have feeders up early to catch the early Males when they show up looking for territory,” says Wiens.

As of April 17, just about a week ago, there were hummingbird sightings as far north as Wisconsin and Iowa, according to www.hummingbirdcentral.com, a US resource.

For Manitobans, Wiens has a Canadian website, www.therubythroat.com. “The report a sighting page on my website is for both Alberta and Canada.”

Be the first to spot a hummingbird. You can report any species you might see, such as a rufous, calliope, black chinned, or Anna’s hummingbird.

Last year, on the Canada Hummingbird tracker birds were spotted on May 9 in southwest Manitoba, which fits with the estimated time they are expected on the Prairies between Winnipeg and Regina, Sask.

Feed them right

Hang your feeder where you can watch the drama of these tiny creature, but out of the reach of cats. Make your own sugar/water mixture with a quarter cup of white sugar and one cup of water. Change the water before it gets cloudy or ferments, (www.allaboutbirds.org).

Plant the rightflowers and you will attract hummingbirds.

Zone 2 hardy delphiniums are one of the hummers favourite perennial flowers. But there are lots of blooms they love such as flowers with a deep tube like nasturtiums. But lilacs and zinnias are also on their menu, as well as small insects.

If you haven’t hosted these little birds before, be patient, it may take time, even into dry summer weather when the young grow adventuresome before they seek out new locations.

Get them coming and you will see them over and over again. Creatures of habit, they are known to return to the same location, even the same feeder, year after year.

© Virden Empire-Advance