I always look forward to Tax Day. Not for the obvious reason that I’m relieved my taxes are done but for the less obvious reason that this day generally marks the return of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird to our area! This is the only hummingbird that breeds in Ohio. It spends the winter months in Central America before making the trek back to Ohio (and much of the Eastern US) to mate, build a nest and raise its young before it departs again in late summer to head south for the winter.
This year, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird was spotted as early as April 8 in our area and, as of this week, arrived in lower Maine. The spring migration of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird is reported by fellow citizens observing their activity on www.hummingbirds.net. Local bird watchers may want to take note of this resource and submit their observations early next year.
Would you like to attract more hummingbirds to your yard? Hummingbirds are naturally attracted to orange and red flowers that are tubular in shape. The base of each flower holds a sugar-rich nectar that provides the necessary energy for their fast-paced movements. Hummingbirds beat their wings over 50 times per second, allowing them to dart and hover around the garden with ease. Garden plants like columbine, lobelia, penstemon, petunia, salvia, canna, and many others are among hummingbird favorites. Plant a few of these to attract these birds to your garden.
Another way to attract hummingbirds is to place feeders in your yard. Hummingbird feeders are designed to mimic the tubular flowers found in nature. These feeders are often red in color and filled with a sugar solution. Many prepackaged solutions have added red coloring, but that is not necessary to attract the hummingbirds. You can even make your own hummingbird nectar at home by dissolving ¼ to 1/3 cup sugar in 1 cup water. Place the solution in the feeder. Monitor the solution carefully and change it every 2 to 3 days or more frequently if it becomes cloudy, especially during hot weather. Bacteria and fungi can grow rapidly in the sugar water, so be sure to wash the feeder thoroughly when replacing the sugar solution.
If you are interested in learning more about the Ruby-throated Hummingbird or other birds, check out Cornell University’s site All About Birds (www.allaboutbirds.org). In the very near future, Putnam County will also have a learning pollinator garden at the Quarry Farm in Pandora. The Putnam County Master Gardeners have designed and will begin installing the garden in early May. The garden will feature native Ohio plants that attract hummingbirds as well as a number of other pollinators including native bees and butterflies.