Migrants Looking for Nectar
May 5, 2017 By Mary Hosier

Hummingbirds burn a lot of fuel. When it's cold, or they're out of food, they survive by going into torpor.

Trumpet Honeysuckle is a good native source of nectar.
Photo: Dennis Church CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Spring weather continues to see-saw with a heat wave in the eastern U.S. with winds carrying birds up into Nova Scotia. In the West and Midwest it was a different story where storms and cold weather brought just a few new birds.

"Stormy weather on April 29th and 30th. More hummingbirds arrived. Seemed very hungry sitting right near honeysuckle and nectar feeders."
Hutchinson, Kansas on April 30th.

Cold Temperatures and Torpor
During sudden cold weather, hummingbirds can go into a sleep-like state called torpor. During torpor the tiny bird's body temperature drops and their heart rate slows from 500 beats per minute to less than 50 beats. Torpid birds appear to be asleep until it warms up and their body systems go back to normal. This often takes about an hour.

"Heard a bird show on CBC—one caller reported seeing a hummingbird 45 kms north of here on 30th April. I live in Big Baddeck Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Still snow on the ground here and no flowers. I'm ready for them now."
Reported Jen on May 2nd.

Rufous and Other Western Hummers
Reports of Rufous sightings slow, with most action in eastern Washington and northwestern Montana up into British Columbia. Broad-tails, Black-chinned, and Calliope reported in Colorado, Utah, Washington, and British Columbia.

"I haven't seen any female Black-chinns, yet. Males have been hanging around my yard — all wondering where the gals are."
Richfield, Utah on April 30th.

Colorado Snowstorm

rufous hummingbird
Natural Nectar

Orioles and Hummers

Journal: Attracting Hummingbirds

Although many gardeners have a selection of plants that attract hummingbirds, native plants found within your regional breeding range are a good choice for all wildlife. Research native plants to attract hummingbirds. Contact your local agriculture extension office or local Master Gardener group for more information.


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Next Update May 12th, 2017