Entries tagged with “hummingbirds”.

Ruby Throated Hummingbird May 4 2008 3The first hint of cooler weather touched Northern Virginia in the overnight hours, suggesting shorter days and the start of fall not too far away.

It brings with it, too, not just the start of school again but awareness of the continuing migration of creatures. Those that came north are heading south again. There are reports of warblers coming through – Black and White, Northern Parula and more.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds that give so many of us joy during the late spring and summer months are getting ready for their journey south too. The fewer hours of sunlight trigger hormonal changes that tell the birds it’s time to move.

You may be noticing the usual territorial buzzing getting even more frenetic as the hummers fuel up with nectar from feeders and flowers all day long. The hummers will head for Central America, crossing the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s said the males leave first. Have you noticed that? You can report your sightings at Journey North, where you’ll also be able to watch their progress on a map next year when they come back, some of them looking for the feeders you put out.



If not, it’s time!!  Here’s snapshot of the sightings that people have posted on Journey North – visit their site to see the details and to submit your own sightings. They’re just south of us and could arrive any day!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Migration Map, Spring 2014 - Internet Explorer_2014-04-09_06-30-40

Need a refresher on the sugar water mixture?  It’s very easy:

- 1 cup water (boiled or hot enough to dissolve the sugar)
- 1/4 cup white granulated sugar (just use plain white granulated sugar, don’t get fancy – other sugars and honey are not a good choice since they can cause bacteria to grow and the “nectar” that you buy with red dye isn’t necessarily good for them – and the red dye is not necessary)




No? Well get busy! Go pull it out of the basement or garage, clean it off, and fill ‘er up with sugar water (1 part white sugar to 4 parts water).

I just hung mine out today after seeing the sightings report from Journey North. I’ll paste a copy of it in here.

Yes indeed –  Ruby-throated hummingbirds are flying through our area as we speak! So, we might as well start putting out the welcome sign!

When you see a hummingbird, visit the Journey North site and enter in your good news – it will show up as a dot on the map like the ones you see here.




Here’s a nice program coming up that is being sponsored by the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia:

Hummingbirds of the Mid-Atlantic Region
Audubon Afternoon
Sunday, January 13, 2013,  3-5:00 PM
National Wildlife Federation (NWF)
11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Reston, VA 20190

Members and friends-please join us for our quarterly ASNV meeting and this fascinating presentation by Bruce Peterjohn, Chief of the Bird Banding Laboratory for the US Geological Survey, a position he has held since 2008. According to Bruce, “The autumn of 2012 is proving to be a record year for western hummingbirds across the eastern US.” He should know; he has been banding hummingbirds in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006, and prior to that, assisting the previous hummingbird bander starting in 2000.

Bruce will share with us his vast knowledge of western hummingbirds, the intricacies of capturing and banding these miniature creatures, migration trends as he has observed them through his years of banding and some thoughts for the future of winter hummingbirds in the mid-Atlantic. This promises to be an interesting and educational afternoon.

Coffee and goodies will be served before the meeting.   There might even be some surprise door prizes! Bring your friends and neighbors!


Migration *must* be underway – I say that because in the last two days, I’ve had two birds fly into our garage and get confused, unable to fly out. I think our “regulars” already know the lay of the land around our house pretty well but as migrating birds come through, all things are new and they can get into these dangerous situations.

So, I thought I’d share this story in case it happens to you (and a hapless bird, just trying to get to points South).

The first was a Ruby-throated hummingbird. It was early evening on friday and my husband Gil came in and said to me – “We have a wildlife emergency in the garage.” 

My heart sunk and a thousand terrible images flashed through my head. Luckily, Gil had spotted this situation before it was too late.

This hummingbird was flying in circles around the light in the garage.

This sight brought home (so to speak) the issue that the American Bird Conservancy is working on with their Collisions Campaign. Birds are drawn to the light at night, circle them endlessly until they fall to the ground, and die of exhaustion.

Now, the light in our garage is no tower beacon but it seemed to provide the same point of confusion for this little bird. 

So what to do? Nets and brooms? Nope - use of these can hurt the bird. Turn off the light in the garage and keep the garage door open.

I did that and the hummer was still a bit confused and clearly tired. Luckily it was almost dusk so it could see the daylight outside. Nonetheless, it did fall to the ground exhausted. I collected it in my hands and took it over to my hummingbird feeder. It rested for a moment and then flew to a nearby branch. Before it got dark, I saw it speed over to the feeder and have a nice energy drink. All was good.

Then on Saturday Bird #2 entered the garage – shown here in the photo.

Gil again was the spotter. In this case, it was a Prairie Warbler.

Both garage doors were open and no lights were on but it just couldn’t get the courage to fly down and out. It, like the hummer, kept flying up to the ceiling and staying high.

The bird was distressed. I was distressed. But calm prevailed…..

I made the garage as dark as possible, closing one of the doors and pulling down all the window shades.  I also put a bowl of water and mealworms on the ground near the door in case that would entice it to fly down.

I also called the Wildlife Rescue League Hotline (703-440-0800) in case they had any other tips on how to help this bird.  They concurred: Make the garage as dark as possible with the only light coming from the exit — Birds fly to the light.

Second step — leave the bird alone. This, of course, is hard because you worry and want to see the bird fly out. But I did – I went back to feeding the Monarch caterpillars that I’m raising.

Now, I should also mention that, if the bird had fallen with exhaustion, I was ready to call the rehabber back and get additional guidance. Luckily though, about 30 minutes later, I went back and checked the garage and it had flown out.

Phew! I was so relieved – and motivated to tell you this story.

Over coming weeks, I’ll be keeping the garage doors shut more and when they are open, I’ll be sure to keep a keen eye for any confused birds. Thank goodness Gil spotted these two. We wish them well on their great journey south.


Here’s the latest map and news from Journey North, the organization that captures sightings from people across the country and puts them on the map:


Southerly winds did the job of assisting ruby-throated hummingbird migration across the Gulf and into 4 new states.

The map shows an amazing number of sightings covering the Gulf Coast from Texas across to Florida, through Loudoun and up into New England.

Here in Loudoun, we typically make sure our feeders are up by April 15th (it’s also more fun to think about than taxes…) but you may want to start that early this year.  Just remember to clean and fill your feeder every few days so the sugar water doesn’t foul and make them sick.

And watch for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers making sap holes in trees.  We watched some at Morven Park this past weekend going from tree to tree.  The sap running in the holes attracts hummingbirds not only for the sap but also for the insects that get trapped in it.


Emily Southgate has an amazingly high number of Ruby-throated hummingbirds visiting her feeders this summer and she is opening her home to share that experience with us! 

More than twenty at a time have been seen in and around her feeders! See information below for this great event:

A Hummingbird Evening

Join Dr. Emily Southgate on Sunday, July 31stfor “A Hummingbird Evening”

Gather at Emily’s house near Middleburg, Virginia to hear a short informative talk about these amazing creatures and spend time on Emily’s porch in the midst of dozens (yes dozens!!) of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds feeding in a thrilling spectacle.

Registration required.  Please call Emily at 540 687 8291 or email her at ewbsouthgate@gmail.com  to reserve a time between 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM, and to get driving directions.


June 20-26, is National Pollinator Week:

Five years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of the final week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. 

In just three years Pollinator Week has grown to be an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles.

The growing concern for pollinators is a sign of progress, but it is vital that we continue to maximize our collective effort.  The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture signs the proclamation every year.


I wish I could embed this video on the blog but it’s not that kind of link so….. here’s the website:


This is an exquisite 7-minute clip on so much more than pollination. The presenter, Louie Schwartzberg, asks the question, “What motivates the pollinators?”  Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch offered the explaination, “Nothing lasts forever, everything eventually wears out.” This is a question about life itself and the imagery of the film clip is a wonderful journey in that.

One commenter posted, “I am saddened to realize that most of the pollinators in these clips are seriously threatened – The honey bees by hive collapse syndrome, the bats by a fungus, the butterflies by habitat loss.”  I think that’s a pretty key obersvation.