Where have all the
Hummingbirds gone?
By Linda K. Schneider

Have you noticed the absence of the hummingbirds? All summer long the ruby-
throated hummingbirds entertain with their swoops, dips and dives. These
antics are for territory disputes over feeders or garden plots and courtship
displays. Departure time is early to mid-September as they migrate to Southern
Mexico and Central America, so they are no longer present in our New England

How do they know when to leave or where to go? The answer to those
questions is: Mother Nature tells them.

The routine goes something like this: in the middle of August they start to fuel
up. Eating voraciously; bugs for protein and drinking nectar to take on calories
to carry them the great distance of their migration. Their little bellies hang
down as they fatten up for the long trip south. Around the first of September
many of them start the journey, but a few stragglers can be seen into mid-

It makes sense if you spend time thinking about it; as the frost hits the
pumpkins and the flowers die back, their food sources disappear. Before
nature takes away the flowers and bugs, they hit the road. People start to close
up their gardens and take down the hummingbird feeders around this time.

Many people plant gardens just to attract this little miracle with wings. They
are one of the reasons to have gardens. Plant native varieties and remember
they love the color red. Once your red flowers are found, they will go to any
color to drink the nectar and eat the bugs.

Use Native Plants, Not Feeders

Bee balm is one native plant that will draw them every time and it comes in
many colors; red, white, pink and purple. Tubular shaped flowers like trumpet
vine and cardinal flower are a few more favorites. Petunia, geraniums,
impatiens and fuchsia are some of the common annuals they will frequent.

Native plants are encouraged while sugar water feeders are discouraged. To
properly care for them is a real chore especially in the heat of summer. You
should change the sugar water formula every other day so bacteria do not
grow, but most people are not that committed to the task. Never use red dye or
honey as they can be toxic and kill the very birds you are trying to feed.

In New England: Ruby Throated Hummingbirds Rule

In New England we only see one variety, the ruby-throated hummingbird. In
the Southwestern states near the USA Mexico Boarder - Arizona, New Mexico,
California and Texas - people can view up to eleven varieties of
hummingbirds. Mexico is the wintering ground for many varieties of birds.

This small, wondrous, little miracle of nature is on its way to its winter
destination. With luck and a tail wind, it will make the trip safely. Anxiously,
we await their return next spring. Watch for them around Mother’s Day.  

About the author:
Linda K. Schneider is the District Manager at Ottauquechee Natural Resources
Conservation District, located in White River Junction, Vermont. This District
covers 18 towns in Windsor County and one in Rutland County, Killington. For
more information visit:
Natural Resources or contact Linda at: 802-295-7942 x11
Hummingbird Migration
New England

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