Blog Medium Image2019-10-17T15:46:23-06:00


They're back!  Our Ruby-throated hummingbirds are returning as I type.  I personally have had one since April 3rd...pretty much on time for us.  Feeders were up, fresh and waiting for them. For those who are yet to hang's time.  Time to rinse them out, make that nectar; 4 parts water to 1 part white cane sugar - NO RED DYE and get them hung.  Monitor them, keep then clean and fresh ALL SEASON. It's also a good time to work on planning what flowers you'll be planting and getting those flower beds ready to go.  The weather has been so crazy this year that I'm truly waiting until AFTER 15 April to plant anything new.  Hopefully by then Mother Nature will have made up her mind and spring will truly stick around. Remember when planning those gardens think "3".  Flowers that will bloom now, flowers that will bloom in the middle of summer and flowers that will last until 1st frost.  It's a pollinator's dream...and you can help make it come true.  Limit or better yet totally do away with pesticides...hummingbirds need protein in the form of soft-bodied insects especially during nesting and baby raising time. Most of all enjoy your hummingbirds!!  

What’s the best hummingbird feeder??

“What’s the best feeder for hummingbirds?”  It’s a question I’m asked all the time.  My usual answer is…’the one you can keep the cleanest’.  But that’s not what folks truly want to know!  Although it is the *most* important feature of any feeder. After feeding hummingbirds for over 2 decades and visiting hummingbird host homes to band birds for the last 10 years I’ve become quite familiar with all types of feeders both good and bad.  Generally speaking, all feeders with metal bases need to go.  Granted they’re often very pretty with fancy colorful reservoirs but there are a few things wrong with them.  First, their port flowers are usually *not* removeable for cleaning nor does the base doesn’t come apart for cleaning.  Most also have a narrow neck which makes cleaning inside the decorative reservoir difficult. But importantly they will rust over time, often inside first where one cannot see, leeching iron into the nectar. A mineral a hummingbird does not need in abundance and one that will harm them. Then there are the 100s of other hummingbird feeders on the market and instead of listing the ones I do *not* like, I will instead share with you what I look for in feeder. First, I prefer feeders with the fewest pieces and parts. I look for feeders that have red port flowers that are molded and a part of the base lid. The base should separate in two. I like metal hangers as opposed to plastic ones, as they break.  I prefer to have different sizes of the same feeder for different times of the year since my hummingbird populations vacillate.  This cuts down on nectar waste. Ports holes should be oval or round, not slits.  There have been documented instances of hummingbirds getting their bills caught in slits or even getting injured if hit directly by another ‘incoming’ hummingbird. I avoid them. Why chance it? Taking all this into consideration there are two companies with two entirely different feeders that I prefer and use.  First Nature and Aspects.  But of the two, if I had to choose one over the other, [...]

Happy New Year!

I often feel a bit in ‘limbo’ the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  The rush, the preparations, the excitement of the big day is all over and you sit around and just sort of ‘waiting’ for New Year’s Eve.  But not this year! This year the week of anticipated ‘limbo’ turned out to be anything but, when two ‘winter’ hummingbirds decided to venture into my world. And as luck would have it, both arrived at locations where hosts ‘knew’ a bit about winter hummingbirds and knew to give me a call. I’ve spent the week speaking with those hosts, traveling to their locations and ultimately banding what turned out to be two beautiful juvenile male rufous hummingbirds.  Each one a bit different, each one with similar yet different molt patterns, each one with a varying numbers of glowing new orange gorget feathers. Good news, both hummingbirds healthy, in good weight and feisty as this species is known to be. So, as I prepare to bid farewell to the ‘old’ and ‘welcome’ in the new, I remain humbled and honored to be able to do this important work and am ever thankful for the joy, the smiles, the happy tears and the wonder hummingbirds and hummingbird banding brings to all it touches. Happy New Year and happy winter hummingbirds to all! And thanks Dave Magers for the photo of the Shelby Bottoms Rufous....and congrats on the lifer!

A great start to winter hummingbird banding….

We have had a fantastic start to winter hummingbird banding this 21-22 season.  It started in August with reports of an adult male rufous hummingbird at the home of Mary Lodge.  We ventured over to band him on a hot humid day in August and he along with 39 ruby-throats all got shiny new bands.  A month laster on the 15th of September we heard from Mary Goodenough in Fayetteville who reported her Allen's hummingbird was BACK!  What a special occurance as this guy certainly has a history with us.  Stay tuned for more about him in the coming months.   October 14th found us banding our first Kentucky western hummer at the home of Dave Roemer, long time birder and friend.   Fifteen days later on the day before Halloween my phone rang and it was host Bill Taylor of Nashville with the news that his female rufous was back for her second winter.  No tricks there but pure treat!  Three weeks later we ventured to Sewanee, TN and banded an adult female rufous at the home of April Sells.  Her hummer even made the local newspaper, The Mountain Messenger.  On November 23rd we made a second attempt to band what turned out to be a wily hatch-year male rufous hummingbird at the home of James Wood.  We'd spend a half day trying to capture this hummer back in October but he chose the blooming pineapple sage over the feeders and my trap.  It was good to finally get a band on him a month after our first attempts. Four days later we had a 'rare' two banding day.  We ventured back to Murfreesboro to the home of Kendra Cooper and banded what tuned out to be an adult Black-chinned hummingbird and while there we got another call about a hummingbird in Cannon County. So off we went and captured and banded a hatch-year rufous hummingbird at the home of Penny and David Malone. We have 3 more 'known' western hummers waiting to be banded.  One in Memphis where the salvia is still blooming and the bird isn't interested in the feeders.  One [...]

Check out this great educational video on Winter Hummingbirds!

Congratulations to Nashville Birder and photographer, Graham Gerdeman on this educational video about Winter Hummingbirds in Tennessee and the northeast.   It's the second in a series of wonderfully produced videos.  Enjoy it, comment on it and subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

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