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Hummingbirds migrants through Georiga
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Hang up your feeders and they will come. A loyal band of birders are watching their feeders anxiously to catch sight of the first ruby-throated hummingbird in their backyards this season. These and other avian acrobats are returning to Georgia this spring from their wintering grounds to the south. Ruby-throated hummingbirds may travel more than 600 miles from Mexico to arrive in our state announces the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (DNR/WRD).
“If you haven’t already seen a ruby-throated hummingbird in your backyard, you should soon,” said Jim Ozier, Program Manager for WRD’s Nongame Conservation Section.
Following the long, grueling migration, this diminutive bird must seek out about half its weight in food every day. Typical body weight of a ruby-throated hummingbird is 3 to 3.4 grams. To maintain their high metabolism, hummingbirds must feed frequently on high-energy food sources such as rich, but easily digested nectar, or tree sap that collects in sapsucker foraging holes. Hummingbirds also need protein, which they obtain by eating tiny spiders and small soft-bodied insects found on flowers or at the sapsucker holes in trees.
To provide rich food sources for our travel-weary visitors, hummingbird enthusiasts can plant coral honeysuckle, columbine, bee balm and other native plants in their yard as well as provide hummingbird feeders. Periodically clean feeders, making sure that all molds and bacteria are removed, but do not use harsh cleaning agents to clean feeders. Feeders can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher or with mild soap and warm water. Refill hummingbird feeders every few days with a simple mix of one part sugar to four parts water. For best results, bring the water to a boil before adding the sugar and then continue to boil for 3-4 minutes, allowing the mixture to cool before filling your feeder. Refrigerate unused portions.
Homeowners who seem to enjoy the greatest success in attracting hummingbirds to their yards combine the use of feeders with plantings of flowers that produce an abundance of nectar. When planting flowers for hummingbirds, gardeners should incorporate the use of flowers that bloom from early spring through fall.
To report unusual hummingbirds attracted to feeders and plantings in backyards in Georgia, please contact WRD’s Nongame Conservation Section at (478) 994-1438. To obtain a copy of WRD’s information sheets on Georgia’s hummingbirds, visit and choose “Nongame Animals & Plants” and “Backyard Wildlife.”
Georgians can support the conservation projects for migrating hummingbirds and other nongame wildlife by purchasing a wildlife license plate featuring a bald eagle/American flag or a ruby-throated hummingbird for their vehicle, or by donating to the “Give Wildlife a Chance” State Income Tax Checkoff. Sales of the nongame wildlife license plates are the primary source of funding for the WRD Nongame Conservation Section.
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