Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spring Hummingbird Migration 2013

Denny says the best bird-watching in the Texas Hill Country is just outside our windows.  

He may be right.  2013 has been one of the busiest hummingbird migrations in our nearly-seven years of Hill Country living.

A couple of young Rufous hummingbirds spent the winter here. Technically they're getting a jump on migration to far north breeding grounds. Click here to watch an animated map showing Rufous migration week-by-week. 

This is our third year hosting Rufous hummers all winter.  They leave as the first Black-chinned hummingbirds appear in March.

The earliest migrants are usually male Black-chins arriving in ones and twos.

Next come the Ruby-throated males, then females of both species.  The birds are said to migrate individually but often arrive here in clumps, perhaps a result of weather events. 

During the height of migration the birds will consume about a quart of sugar-water a day from our four feeders.  

Spring flowers, plus a water source and thickets help attract the birds.  

Dependable year-round feeders are the last piece of the puzzle but an important one.  During drought years when wildflowers are scarce, or years with cold spells when the birds need fast fuel, feeders fill the gap.

Female Black-chinned

Time helps too.  Ruby-throated hummingbirds, and probably other species, return to places where they found food and shelter in prior migrations. Amazing that such a tiny brain can store geographic data for flights of hundreds of miles.

Migration flow through our part of the Hill Country is down to a trickle now. But competition for an early morning bath at the waterfall will last all summer.

Copyright 2009-2013 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.
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