Hummingbird migration is underway and the diminutive birds wills soon be in the Roanoke Valley. These amazing creatures expend an extraordinary amount of time and energy to get here. Some will fly all the way across the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight.
Of the 350 different species of hummingbirds, the United States is only home to 15 breeding species and the most common in our area is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. If you’re really lucky, you might get a glimpse of a seldom seen Rufous or an Allen’s Hummingbird. Although not common in this area, they are sometimes blown off their migratory routes giving local birders a rare treat.
Below are some important guidelines for hummingbird feeder maintenance:
- The SVWC recommends cleaning feeders every 3-5 days with a mixture of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water; be sure to clean the inside thoroughly too.
- The proper water to sugar ratio is 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water. Bring the solution to a boil and then let it cool before setting out. Leftover sugar water can be refrigerated for up to a week.
- Dirty feeders can develop a fungus that causes a hummingbird’s tongue to swell which prevents them from being able to withdraw their tongue. This condition called, Hummers Candidiasis, means they can’t eat and they will slowly starve to death.
- DO NOT use dyes, honey, molasses, or raw sugar. If the syrup looks cloudy after being stored for a long time, do not use it.
- Avoid placing the feeder in direct sunlight as this will make the water go bad even faster.
In 2022, The Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center treated 2,600+ wildlife patients and more than 260 species. Their donation link is: https://swvawildlifecenter.org/make-a-donation/