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Hummingbirds are a great joy to see during the summer months of the year. These small birds have very interesting characteristics including their tiny size, brilliant color, dazzling acrobatics, swift flight, and unique personality.
Generally, the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is the type of hummingbird we see in this area. This bird is remarkable Its routine cruising speed is 27 mph, and it can reach 60 mph during courtship flights. On average, its wings beat 53 times per second, and the hummingbird is the only avian species that can fly backwards and upside down.
Each bird must eat 100 percent of its body weight in nectar every day to survive. Depending on air temperatures and activity levels, this means the birds feed anywhere from every five minutes to every hour. Placing hummingbird feeders on your property is a great way to attract hummingbirds and help them in their life cycle. One average-sized feeder can provide the daily nectar equivalent of 2,000 to 5,000 flowers.
Hummingbirds, or hummers for short, usually start to show up in mid-April. By late July, and especially at this time of the year, the birds begin to migrate southward to their wintering grounds in Mexico, Panama, the Bahamas, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. During migration, hummers can travel 500 miles in a single day.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been receiving several calls asking the question, “When should I take down my hummingbird feeder?”
The answer to that question is…take the feeder down when you stop seeing hummingbirds come to it.
There is a common thought that if you continue to leave your feeder up during the colder months, hummingbirds will not migrate because feed is available. This is not true.
Hummingbirds will migrate—the pull to do so is engrained in their makeup. It’s instinct.
Maintaining hummingbird feeders during this time of the year can actually help those migrant hummingbirds who are passing through on their journey south. Migrant hummers tend to show up around late July and continue to pass through until October.
So, keep your feeders up.
You are helping these fascinating creatures on their big journey.
For more information about hummingbirds, feeders, and a simple recipe to make your own artificial nectar, call the Carroll County Cooperative Extension Office at (502) 732-7030.
Dates of interest
Oct. 3:Carroll County Agricultural Development Council Meeting, 7 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office.
Oct. 9:Senior Event Planning Committee, Wrap Up Meeting, 1:30 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office.
Oct. 13:4-H/FFA Livestock Clinic, 9 a.m.- 2 p.m., Carroll County Fairgrounds. Any 4-H or FFA aged youth interested in learning about showing livestock can call the Carroll County Extension Office to sign up for the clinic.
Oct. 16:Carroll County Extension District Board Meeting, 5 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office.
Oct. 16:Master Stocker Program, Session 3 of 8, 6:30 p.m., Boone County Extension Office.
Oct. 16:Carroll County Extension Council Meeting, 7 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office.
Christin Herbst is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to Christin.Herbst@uky.edu.