Words On Birds by Steve Grinley
Time to Prepare for Hummingbirds and Orioles
April 18, 2020
By Steve Grinley
There have been a few early reports of Baltimore orioles in Eastern Massachusetts. Hummingbirds have been reported in southern Massachusetts and two have already found their way to Maine! If you want to see the progress of hummingbirds into New England, check out the hummingbird migration map at www.hummingbirdcentral.com.
Once warmer southwest winds return in the weeks ahead, more hummingbirds should be arriving, so now is a good time to ready your hummingbird feeders. Though the bulk of the hummers reach us in May, there are many April arrivals, and you don’t want to be embarrassed when your hummer shows up and darts around where the feeder is supposed to be! One part sugar to three or four parts water is the recommended solution. Be sure to change the nectar every few days to keep it fresh.
Not far behind the hummingbirds will be the orioles, so you should begin preparing their feeders as well. These birds are also attracted to backyard feeders with nectar (one part sugar to five or six parts water) and also with grape jelly and oranges. Some folks also feed mealworms to orioles, especially as the orioles begin to nest, but orioles will also continue to enjoy jelly all summer long. There are feeders that will hold a combination of nectar, jelly (or mealworms) and oranges, with some clever ones designed to keep starlings and other larger birds from getting to the goodies.
If you are feeding bluebirds, you may already know that there are mealworm feeders designed for bluebirds that also keep out the larger birds. Nectar, jelly, oranges and mealworms are all ways to attract some different birds to your yard this spring and summer. Catbirds, mockingbirds, tanagers, Carolina wrens, thrushes, and even some warblers might make an appearance to partake from this different menu.
Speaking of bluebirds, some have already started to nest, but more are still looking for houses. With some extra time on our hands, now is a good time to put up a house for them or for any of the other birds that might nest in your yard. Chickadees, tufted titmice, white-breasted nuthatches, woodpeckers and tree swallows will all nest in nesting boxes. A nesting shelf can be erected for robins, phoebes, and barn swallows – which are arriving now. Arriving in May will be the house wrens, and they also will take to a house hung in a nearby tree and delight you with their gurgling song.
Don’t forget to add water. Birds need and enjoy fresh water all through the warmer months. Add some motion to the water with a dripper, a waterfall rock, or a battery-operated “wiggler” to help attract more birds and to help keep the water aerated and fresh. You might be surprised to see the different birds that might show up – birds that might not otherwise visit your feeders!