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Ask Birdsquatch: Mold and Hummingbird Nectar
Dear Birdsquatch: I have a question about hummingbird nectar. When making the sugar water (in the proper 4:1 ratio, of course), I usually make a big pot—enough to fill 10 16-ounce Mason jars, which I keep in the garage fridge. Today, when I was filling the backyard feeder, I noticed black fungi floating in ALL of the jars. I always clean with soap and water and even bleach the jars a bit. But I still occasionally get mold. Do I need to make fresh solution each time I clean the feeders?
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Ask Birdsquatch: How Do You Estimate the Number of Hummingbirds Visiting a Feeder?
Dear Birdsquatch: I would love to know how many hummingbirds are visiting my feeders. My wife says there are about a dozen, but I'm thinking there are many more. It's hard to count the little buzz bombs because they rarely sit still. Is there a way to count them accurately?
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The Hummingbirds are Coming!
Want to watch the progression of hummingbirds in North America? Check out these websites—and if you see a hummingbird in your area, consider reporting your observation!
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Ask Birdsquatch: Hummer Feeder Seasonal Timing
The weather in my part of the country gets pretty cold after Halloween, so I'm wondering when I should take my hummingbird feeders down for the winter. I don't want to keep the little buzzbombs here so late in the season that their tails freeze off. Got any woodsy wisdom for me?
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Dear Birdsquatch: Bees at the Hummingbird Feeder. What to Do?
Dear Birdsquatch: In the summer every year, my hummingbird feeder is overtaken by honeybees or yellow jackets. The hummingbirds can't get a sip. Is it okay to kill the pests with insecticide spray?
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Hummingbird Feeders 101
Hummingbirds appreciate a reliable nectar source, whether natural or provided by humans. Bill Thompson, III, offers expert advice on feeding hummingbirds.
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Helpful Hummingbird Tips
Did you know? Not all flowers are necessarily good food sources for hummingbirds. Learn which ones are best for your backyard visitors. And, don't use anything other than white table sugar when making hummingbird nectar.
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Keep Your Hummingbird Feeders Up
You've probably heard the myth: Take down your hummingbird feeders in the fall or the hummers will "forget" to migrate. It's not true. Birds, including the hummingbirds at our feeders, are programmed by instinct to migrate when their inner clocks tell them to leave.
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The Diversity of Hummingbirds
Only one species of hummingbird nests the East, but fifteen species of hummingbird breed in North America, including the orange rufous hummingbird. Hundreds more live in Central and South America, ranging from the tiny blue bee hummingbird, to the robin-sized giant hummingbird.
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Ask Birdsquatch: Hummer Bummer
Dear Birdsquatch: My hummingbirds are ignoring my feeder. I've had it up for a month now but not a single bird has taken a drink. They visit it, look at it, and leave. What’s going on?
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Little Betty
Even though nesting season is over for the year, we couldn't resist sharing this photo, sent by Marie Noplos, of Fergus Falls, Minnesota. She wrote, "This is a photo I took of a female rubythroated hummingbird feeding her two babies. Little Betty, as my 11-year-old daughter named her, built her nest in the flowering dogwood tree in our backyard. I was on our deck one day and saw her going back and forth across the yard, snatching cobwebs and carrying them to the tree. I assume this is her first year of nesting because the tree limb is not very sturdy and less than 15 feet from a busy road in town..."
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Helping Hummingbirds in Fall
It's a myth that a hummingbird, or any bird for that matter, will be deterred from heading south in the fall because of human-provided food. Instinct and hormonal urges are what drive birds to migrate, and hummingbirds are no different. Besides, there is good reason to leave your nectar feeder up and full of fresh sugar water until the temperature dips to below freezing, even if you haven't seen a hummer for weeks.
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A Surprise Winter Visitor
For years Jeane Pirkle has kept a feeder up long after the hummingbirds leave with the hope of attracting a winter hummingbird. She continued that practice during the fall of 2013. In late October she noticed a single bird visiting her feeder each day. At first she thought it was a female ruby-throated hummingbird, but it turned out to be a rare visitor to her area during the winter months.
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Cool Hummingbird Facts!
You don't need to be a bird expert to know that hummingbirds are cool! Check out this list of facts about these flying jewels of the bird world.
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Hummingbird Nectar Recipe
Want to make your own nectar for feeding hummingbirds? It's easy! All you need is the right proportion of sugar and water.
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Gardening for Hummingbirds
If you only have a little room in your garden, or want to simplify things and plant a few flowers that really appeal to hummingbirds, you can't go wrong with these recommendations.
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A Rare Hummingbird
Ruth Witmer feeds hummingbirds. She lives in eastern Pennsylvania, where ruby-throated hummingbirds normally make their annual debut in mid- to late April. Last April, Ruth put her sugar-water mixture out in mid-April before she had seen the first hummingbird of 2013. What she saw on April 20 was not what she expected. It was a hummingbird all right, but sure looked different.
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Hummer Trouble
Any backyard in North America can expect to have hummingbirds during the warmer months of the year (April through late September). But sometimes those hummingbirds don't get along. Other times, uninvited guests help themselves to the sweet nectar in your feeders. Here are some solutions to a few of the most common problems that plague North American hummingbirders.
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Hummingbirds 101: How to Attract and Keep Hummers in Your Backyard
How does one lure these winged jewels into the backyard for easy viewing? Better yet, how does one keep hummingbirds hanging around throughout the entire season? Attracting backyard hummingbirds is not as difficult as you might think. Like all birds, hummers need food, water, and shelter. Here are a few tips to help you provide these basic necessities for your backyard hummingbirds.
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Tracking Hummingbird Migration
The return of the first ruby-throated hummingbird is one of the most highly anticipated spring events in eastern North America. Although a few of these winged gems spend the winter months in parts of the southern United States, the vast majority winter in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Each year the hummingbirds travel remarkable distances between their wintering grounds and their summer breeding areas, which span from the Gulf of Mexico to southern Canada.
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