It’s time to put out your feeders.
The Missouri Department of Conservation said hummingbirds are beginning to migrate back toward the Show Me State and have already been spotted in northern Arkansas and Tennessee.
The Missouri Department of Conservation said the ruby-throated hummingbird, the tiniest bird to nest in the Show Me State, is a harbinger of spring. The diet of a hummingbird consists of flower nectar, tree sap and even small insects.
MDC State Ornithologist Sarah Kendrick said Missourians who want to feed the small fliers don’t have to use sugar water that is colored red. Kendrick said they will find the feeders, which are usually red, and drink the sugar water without the coloring.
Kendrick said to make your own sugar water, mix one part sugar with four parts water and bring to a boil until dissolved. She said to then cool the mixture before filling the feeder and replace sugar water before it gets cloudy. Any extra sugar water can be stored in the refrigerator.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds spend the winter in Mexico and Central America and start their spring migration north as early as March.
To track their migration and report your hummingbird sightings, Kendrick recommends visiting Journey North at http://tinyurl.com/yxopqgpt or eBird at http://tinyurl.com/y4tnezh8.
These real-time sites show where the birds have been seen this year as they make their way back to the U.S. and Canada.
“These tiny birds are truly awesome,” Kendrick said. “During migration, many fly nonstop over the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula to the Gulf Coast of the U.S. – and then they do it again in the fall. They can lose up to half their body weight during this nonstop flight.”
Hummingbirds are not only mesmerizing to watch, averaging 55 wing strokes per second, but they also play an important role in the Missouri ecosystem.
“Hummingbirds are important pollinators for many plants that require a long-billed pollinator and they eat lots of insects,” Kendrick noted. “And because of their small size, hummingbirds can end up as food for predators, such as large insects, frogs and other birds.”