Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Hummingbirds and Orioles are Arriving
May 03, 2014
By Steve Grinley

     The late April weather systems produced northerly and easterly winds that slowed the migration and, though there have been scattered reports of hummingbirds and orioles in Massachusetts, more migrants should be arriving now that the winds shift around to a more southwest direction. With southwest winds, more hummingbirds should arrive, so now is a good time to ready your hummingbird feeder if you haven’t done so yet. The bulk of the hummers arrive during May, and you don’t want to be embarrassed when your hummingbird shows up and darts around where the feeder is supposed to be! You may even want to add more feeders to accommodate more hummingbirds, as they are very territorial when they feed, not allowing other hummers near “their” feeder!

     One part sugar to three or four parts water is the recommended solution. You can also purchase bottles of premixed nectar, or powdered sucrose to mix without boiling. Clear nectar is best, as red dyes may be harmful to the birds. Be sure to change the nectar every few days to keep it fresh. 

     Along with 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 people 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 meal worms) and oranges, with some new clever ones designed to keep starlings and other larger birds from getting to the food intended for orioles. 

     If you feed 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 begun to nest, but more are still looking for houses. Now that the weather has broken, it is a good time to put up a house for them or for any of the other birds that may nest in your yard. Chickadees, tufted titmice, white-breasted nuthatches, woodpeckers, bluebirds and tree swallows will all nest in nesting boxes, though cardinals and goldfinch will not. A nesting shelf is the appropriate dwelling, and can be erected, for robins, phoebes, and barn swallows. Also 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 as they help control insects in your garden.

     Don’t forget to add water to your offering for the birds. Birds need and enjoy fresh water all through the warmer months. Add some motion to the water with a dripper, a waterfall or a battery-operated water “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.

     Providing a more varied menu, nesting boxes and fresh water should attract more birds for your spring and summer. Enjoy!

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
Celebrating 2
4 years of service to the birding community! 
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