I have a lot of questions. I started planting for butterflies and hummies three years ago. Last year and this year, I would have 3-4 hummies at the first or second week of September, dogfighting for the garden. At the end, there is only one. I hang a couple of feeders when I see the hummies, they check them out and go back to the flowers, and the battle over the flowers leaves me with one hummie. How do I get more than one hummie, besides the pirate who is willing to take risks to feed (like when I'm gardening, or the neighbor kids are batting a ball around that ends up over the fence and in my garden)? Also, because all I see are green hummies, and the natural assumption is ruby throat, how do you tell one hummie specie from another when they're all green? I take pics, but not a great photographer and not a great camera. But, with reviewing pics, I can see I have individuals by markings around eyes, coloration around gorget and spots on neck and brown coloration on the sides of some but not others. What do you look for as identifiers? Last question. I saw my first hummie last year about mid September. All hummies gone by Thanksgiving. About the same this year. I still have a hummie, but ownership of the garden changed this week. Everything I read says hummies aren't in fl this time of year, except south fl. Should I keep feeders up after the fall bloom in case there are hummies here all winter? Sorry if I didn't ask correctly. Thank you, Elsie
Post by Steve Backes on Nov 18, 2014 8:09:27 GMT -5
St Lucie does get wintering hummingbirds. A lot depends in your immediate neighborhood. They prefer older neighborhoods with mature trees but sometimes a conservation area is enough to keep one or two in a neighborhood if a yard is properly landscaped.
Create "territories" that are not in sight of each other or where one perch can over see all of them. This can be achieved by placing feeders and clumps of flowers on different sides of the house. I've created a number of nooks in my yard using taller shrubs and trees as walls so that feeders and perching sites are out of view from most of the yard. Develop hidden corners of the yard where birds can perch in neighboring yards and slip into yours for a drink.
Fall migration of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in Florida runs from August through October. But, birds will still move within Florida throughout the winter. September through November birds sounds like migrants and/or wintering birds. If the birds stayed that long, I'd guess they were wintering birds. If the numbers varied over time, I'd guess there were wintering birds mixed with migrants. Sometimes it's not known why birds leave but other times you can figure out if its a loss of a food source or due to new competition from another hummingbird. If they're only feeding at flowers, a loss of the flowers due to temperature changes of blooming season will result in their leaving to find as new source of food.
Young birds have to learn to use a feeder. Hopefully, they'll learn to use the feeder before they choose to leave in search of new flowers. Make sure the feeders are cleaned regularly. They can sour after a few days. If a bird tries the feeder and it's sour, they won't come back. I recommend offering a minimal amount of solution in the feeder and then changing the solution and rinsing the feeder in hot tap water every two to three days. You throw away a lot of solution but the feeder is easy to clean if it is not allowed to get moldy and the solution stays fresh. Make up a batch of solution. Use a minimal amount inf the feeder. Store the remainder in the refrigerator. Make enough to last at least a week at a time. Rinse and refill should take very little time if you clean them often. I'm currently maintaining 12 feeders. I use less than two cups of sugar per week. That's much cheaper than sunflower seeds for the other birds. I spend less on sugar throughout the year than I do on seed for the birds in a week.
You are correct that the green (and white) hummingbirds are expected to be Ruby-throateds but there are other possibilities. Black-chinned is the next likely but it requires very detailed photos of the wing feathers to verify an id of Black-chinned. It is possible to make a presumptive id in the field but only with a lot of experience.
Brown coloration is possibly the easiest non-Ruby-throat identification. Even a bad photo can separate Ruby-throated from a Rufus/Allen's.