The gardens are buzzing with migrating hummingbirds in the Midwest and beyond! Today you will read some interesting facts about them, ways you can help, and how to keep those pesky wasps away! Let’s dive in about these tiny wonders!
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Migrating Hummingbirds – 5 Fascinating Things You Need to Know!
What is not to love about this tiny flying jewel!? It seems we all love to attract and see them.
I know I get excited upon seeing the first one in the spring, and sad about not seeing the spunky little things around when we get deep into Autumn here in the Midwest.
Here are 5 fascinating things you need to know about migrating hummingbirds and how you can help them.
1. How to keep the wasps away!
Keeping wasps (yellow jackets are the actual culprits) away from the feeders seems to be one of the biggest complaints and most sought-after questions for migrating hummingbirds!
I can have hummingbird feeders out all spring and summer long, and then right around the end of August bam, here are all the yellow jackets.
Unfortunately, I know a lot of people who take down the feeders. I ask you to please not do that! Our migrating hummingbirds need an enormous amount of energy for their journey and appreciate our feeders!
Over the past two years, I have found two hummingbird feeders that honestly do work at keeping the yellow jackets away from them.
I will see one or two around, but if they are, they can’t seem to figure it out or get to the nectar, so they leave.
Hummingbirds do NOT need the cute little flowers over the holes to obtain nectar. They eat just fine without them and like these feeders.
They are truly magical in my yard, where the hummingbird feeders would be swarming with the yellow jackets in the past. Not any more!
These are the two feeders I use:
***Please, no red dye! Make your own sugar water recipe of 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water. Stir frequently on the burner and remove when the water starts to boil, let it cool, and serve! Store the remainder in the refrigerator.
2. How long to keep the feeders up
Please don’t put your feeders away just because it’s September or a specific date, or because you’re afraid migrating hummingbirds will stay.
Please keep your feeders up at least 10 days since the last sighting of a hummingbird in your yard.
I usually keep mine up at least two weeks after. You’d be surprised how many stragglers you might have!
It is a complete myth that hummingbirds won’t migrate if you leave your feeders out.
They have instincts built into them that no feeder would ever change. Yet they will 100% appreciate any feeder left out for them. It will help them immensely on their journey south.
So please, do leave the feeders up!
3. How far do they migrate?
It always completely amazes me how far any bird will migrate! It’s insane! They go over oceans and don’t land for days. Amazing feats!
Migrating hummingbirds are no different! These little jewels can have round-trip migration flights of more than 995 miles!
Some fly nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico, doubling their body weight before they migrate, which is why your feeders are a valuable asset to them!
That added weight is burned during migration, though, and they need the energy to get across the Gulf.
When hummingbirds first arrive in the north in spring, they are sometimes met with unseasonably cold weather. That happened in the Midwest this year!
They will then go into a hypothermic torpor to survive, which is an incredible instinct! They will also eat sap from trees when there’s not much nectar from flowers to consume.
These little balls of personality can fly up to 50 mph if the wind is on their side. Amazing!
4. Do hummingbirds really prefer red?
Hummingbirds see in near UV (ultra-violet), which is why the bright colors like red, orange and pink stand out to them more.
The fact that hummingbirds have “near” UV sight makes particular flowers pollinated by them only, as insects do not have UV or near UV sight. Pretty interesting!
But this preference for red doesn’t mean they won’t visit other colors. They are in search of nectar, are curious, and will check out all the flowers!
I’ve had hummingbirds on my white mountain mint, purple lavender, yellow sunflowers, and more!
Consider adding these red flowers in your yard to help migrating hummingbirds and attract them all season long:
- Bee balm
- Cardinal flower
- Garden phlox
- Coral bells
Of course, there are many more!
Also, please do not buy red-dyed nectar for them!
Consider the recipe above or at least the clear store-bought nectar instead. The red dye may be harmful to hummingbirds.
There is also some evidence that suggests that preferring red is a conditioned response. After all, most of the feeders you can buy are red!
5. Fun facts about hummingbirds
We can’t talk about migrating hummingbirds without talking just for a minute on how amazing these tiny creatures are!
- We know they are tiny, but to put it into reality, they weigh only about .141 ounces (4 grams)! That is tiny! For comparison, a United States penny weighs in at 2.5 grams!
- A hummingbird’s egg is just under the weight of a penny, and a newly hatched bird is only .62 grams. And a lot of us are familiar with the fact that their tiny nest is about the size of a large walnut!
- Their wings beat as fast as 80 times per SECOND!! That is insane to me, and a huge reason I hardly get a clear shot on my camera of those wings! (I’m still learning, haha)
- A neat fact is that hummingbirds don’t flap their wings like other birds, but rotate them in a figure 8. They are so amazing to watch!
- Being this tiny and fast, they have a heart rate of 1,260 beats PER MINUTE! And they breathe about 250 per minute. That’s almost unfathomable!
- This is why hummingbirds rest often. It doesn’t seem like it to us, as they seem like they are always flitting around, but they will hide out and rest as often as every 15 minutes. (This is also why they need to eat so often and benefit from our well-placed flowers and feeders! Especially migrating hummingbirds!)
- Did you know there are over 300 species of hummingbirds!? That’s a crazy amount of these little flying flowers!
- The ones we know best, though, are the Ruby-throated, Rufous, Black-chinned, Calliope, Costa’s, Broad-tailed, Allen’s, and Anna’s hummingbird.
- Hummingbirds will also eat small insects to round out their diet. Some of these insects they get directly from a spider’s web, which they use to help build their tiny little nests!
- To round out these interesting facts about hummingbird are the fact that they can live 3-6 years. The oldest recorded hummingbird was 9 years, and as with humans, it seems females outlive males by several years.
I hope you enjoyed this article on migrating hummingbirds, and I sincerely hope it’s given you some information to help make their world a better place for them.
Thank you so much for joining me, and if you have any thoughts or learned something new, please comment below! 🙂