Answers From the Hummingbird Expert
Teaching Suggestions | Q & A
Q: What's the role of the male 'scouts' who arrive first?
Q: What can I plant for hummingbirds and butterflies that will bloom when they migrate through my area which is starting now?I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. My yard is full of hummer and butterfly flowers but most bloom later in the year.
Q: What are the hummers that appear gray and cream in color with long beaks? I feed hummingbirds from mid-April through early October. I cannot find pictures of or any description of gray hummingbirds in any bird book.
Q: If a flowering plant is sprayed with insecticide, will it be poisonous to hummingbirds all season or will it dissipate to safe levels after time?
Q: Are hummingbirds attracted to the human eye? I've had several occasions where hummers have hovered just in front of my eyes - to the point where I've had to squint! Yikes!
Q: Do hummingbirds have a natural predator in the Northeastern United States? If so, who or what? Hummers seem fearless and courageous.
Q: Is the red dye food for feeders healthy for hummers? Is it necessary?
Q: How do you keep hummingbird feeders from attracting bees?
Q: When will an immature male have his full red gorget? We had an immature male leave after recuperating here for 10 days. We babied him back to full strength and even put an umbrella over him as he would sit on the feeder for 6 hours sometimes. We gave him fresh warmed nectar for 4 days. He came down for morning feeder ritual when we called him. It was quite an experience. We hope we see him and his adult plumage this spring.
Q: Do hummingbirds live in certain types of trees?
Q: How high off the ground do hummingbirds nest? Is it variable?
Q: Do the same hummingbirds and their offspring come back to the same place every year? Several types visit my feeders every spring & summer.
Q: Do hummingbirds prefer to make their nest high or low in trees?
Q: When should I put up my hummingbird feeder?
Q: What insects in particular do hummingbirds eat and how can I go about attracting those insects to my yard?
Q: What's the biggest threat to the long term survival of ruby-throats?
Q: How can we find a hummingbird's nest? Is there a special way?
Q: Is it unusual for hummingbirds to perch rather than hover at feeders? The ones at our feeder always perch rather than hover when they feed.
Q: After the babies hatch and fledge, but before they leave to go south, should we increase the number of feeders for them?
Q: How far apart should I put feeders?
Q: What type of habitat is needed for a hummer to nest?
Q: Is it possible to turn my small backyard into a nesting ground? I have tried for five years and I think they're discouraged due to heavy bird traffic.
Q: What kinds of hummingbirds visit my area? I live in Warren, New Jersey. I always put feeders up the first of April. There's no traffic at this time, but who knows if one comes early? When I see one, it is a little one but always alone...Why?
Q: When is the right time for the hummers to visit my area? (I'm not very clever with maps and would appreciate your help.)
Q: When can we expect to see our first hummingbirds in eastern, coastal Connecticut?
Q: What flowers bloom thru the spring/summer that would help support hummingbirds? I have planted Bee Balm, Butterfly Bushes, Cardinal Flower, Coneflower and Lilacs. Trying to add more Northeast native perennials and bushes to build a continuous source of food for pollinators and birds.
Q: How far north do humming birds fly?
Q: Why are hummingbirds called humming birds?
Q: How large of an area do the hummingbirds need to protect as their own? We see Black-Chinned, Broad-Tailed and a few Rufous Hummingbirds in our area of Utah. It doesn't matter how many feeders we put out, there are still aggressive displays among the birds.
Q: What is the life span of hummingbirds?
Q: How many types of hummingbirds are found worldwide?
Q: Do the same hummingbirds return each year to my feeders?
Q: When Rufous hummingbirds migrate south, from, say, New York, does the same hummingbird make it to Mexico? I've heard that this is true. The ones who migrate live over 9 months so they can reach there for the winter. Do they make it back in the 9 months. Or am I thinking 9 weeks?
Q: Why do the hummingbirds only stay 3 months in my area? What are they doing while they are here and if they are migrating why don't I see them in the spring heading south? Every August thru almost all of October a male and female rubythroat come for a visit. I live an hour south of Tampa on the Gulf coast.
Q: When would I expect my mature female Rufous who left here in Lakeland, Florida on February 14th to arrive in her breeding area assuming it is somewhere in the Northwest United States or Canada?
Q: Are there banders who band Rufous hummingbirds in the northwestern United States? I would love to know if my female hummer made it there?
Q: Is it the same hummingbird I am seeing year after year? I live on Long Island in New York. I created a hummingbird garden with butterfly bushes, running water, various plants, and a sugar-water feeder. For the last four years I've seen a hummingbird. I always see only one. First year looked like an adult, there after looked like a baby. Not sure, always just one hummer, every year. I also notice the hummer stays till mid-October.
Q: Is aggressive behavior at feeders typical or is there something I can do so that all the hummingbirds can feed? Three hummingbirds visit my feeders, but one hummingbird chases another specific one relentlessly. It makes it hard for that bird to feed. I only have a limited area to place feeders, and have put out 2 feeders, but the chasing continues.
Q: Do any hummers stay in Central America during spring and summer? We're planning a tripl to Costa Rica in April.
Q: What percentage of ruby-throats stay in our area all winter long? My brother lives near Harkers Island on the outer banks of North Carolina. Some leave while a certain population remains. I live bout 40 miles southwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, off I85 in Shelby.
Q: How many times, if ever, have you encountered the same hummingbird at one location, year after year? Is that common?
Q: Do hummingbirds remember each other from year to year? I know hummers remember me that return to my yard each year. I have 2 males that sit on the same tree a foot apart looking at each other and they share a feeder even when there are only 4 birds in the yard and 5 feeders up. I ordered a remote for my camera so I can catch this activity.
Q: Do dragonflies and other birds, such as blue jays, eat hummingbirds? What other birds feed on hummers if any?
Q: Is it better to make my sugar water sweeter when my birds first return and right before they migrate? Also, I keep telling my family and neighbors please don't put food coloring in the water or honey would you please explain why so I can print this and stop begging them not to.
Q: Why do I get so many hummingbirds at my house? I live in central Michigan and always have about 25 hummingbirds. Closer to fall I get about 50. None of my neighbors get so many (under 10). I have no particular plants or flowers to attract them. Everybody keeps feeders out around here Of necessity, I keep 5 or 6, fill once a day or more. We live in deep woods on a couple of acre lots. I've never found nests and they fly in from all directions. Some days you can hardly go to the backyard for all the hummers.
Q: Why do I have a female "ruby" hummer that comes to my feeder every year, but not until late July early August? Is there anything I can do to get her to come around sooner and have her mate to come too? When I see her, I keep telling her to bring her "man" around. My feeder goes out around April 10th. I change the food every 2-4 days. My wife wants me to just give up. The road we live on is not busy and we have trees all around us. I do have plants that hummers like and have red flowers in flower boxes.