By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
This morning I noticed a hummingbird in the clover that I allow to grow in my backyard. Good thing my yard’s weed-friendly, this poor hummingbird was flying madly about to make a breakfast of the tiny flowers.
This would not be the hummingbird’s preferred diet, but then he/she obviously didn’t get the memo about how spring would be late this year and had headed north from Mexico at the usual time.
If you pay attention to wildlife in your own sphere, you’ve likely noticed how climate change is stressing birds and critters as they cope with drought, late springs, extra cold winters, sizzling summers and Biblical downpours. These days the early bird may be too prompt to get the worm; the ground may still be covered with snow.
So I wanted to help the hummingbirds on their migration, and I knew I could count on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the best advice.
Here’s a condensed version of their tips. Find more at their webpage.
- First off, avoid the red-dyed premixed hummingbird syrups at nurseries and home improvement centers. Yes, the color attracts the hummingbirds, but these products presume that red dye is harmless, and that’s unproven.
- Don’t use honey in your feeder, because it creates an environment that invites bacteria and fungus.
- Use good old table sugar mixed with water at a ratio of about 1/4 of a cup of sugar per 1 cup of water, or 1/3 of a cup of sugar to 1 cup of water during more challenging cold or rainy times. If you want to make a big batch, boil the water first, mix it up with the sugar and store it in the fridge.
- Don’t leave hummingbird water out for more than a few days, and change it daily during really hot weather.
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