Spring brings start of hummingbird season

Friday, May 16, 2003

If you're a fan of watching hummingbirds, it's time to hang out the feeders.

Feeders are available at most chain stores and many garden centers and can cost from $3 to $30 or more, but the cheaper ones work just as well. The more expensive ones are just pretty to look at -- for us, not the birds.

Any store that sells hummingbird feeders will likely carry nectar in a pouch. Because nectar is typically sugar with red food coloring, the same thing can be made at home using two parts water to one part sugar. The red food coloring is not necessary to attract hummingbirds since the red coloring on the feeder is more than enough to attract the birds.

You can landscape yard for hummingbirds, as well. Red-colored flowers are by far the favorites of these little birds, but they will also feed from pink, lavender, blue and orange flowers. Honeysuckles, fire brush, petunias, salvia and others are good choices. Any local nursery can suggest good flowers for this. One tip: You dont necessarily need the sweetest smelling flowers. Hummingbirds like sweet-smelling flowers, but often do not prefer the sweetest smelling.

The most common hummingbird in Missouri is the ruby-throated hummingbird, seen from mid-March to the end of September. Both sexes have a green-colored back, while the male has a bright ruby-colored throat patch -- hence the name. If you listen closely, you can hear them make a humming noise with their wings.

Rufous hummingbirds are present in Missouri at times, although they are not nearly as common as the ruby-throated. These may be seen from mid-September through mid-November and resemble the ruby-throated in appearance, but the males have a brownish-colored back. The females of both species look nearly identical, although the rufous female has a dull brownish (rufous) color at the base and sides of the tail.

The third and rarest hummingbird in Missouri is the Anna's. This one is also seen mainly in the fall and winter. These hummingbirds are a greenish black on the backs, and the males have a brilliant red head. Seen mainly on the West Coast, they can end up as far east as parts of Missouri.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: