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Re: Humming Birds

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  • Candy Pfau
    We had at least ten hummingbirds at our three feeders in Franklin North Carolina up until about Sept 30. Then I noticed there were less and less until about
    Message 1 of 10 , Oct 5, 2011
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      We had at least ten hummingbirds at our three feeders in Franklin North Carolina up until about Sept 30. Then I noticed there were less
      and less until about Oct. 1st it seemed like they had left.  I left the feeders in place but let them run down. And just before we were leaving
      to come down to Florida, right before a cold front in which Franklin's temperatures were going to go down to 37.   I heard a frantic 
      hummingbird running to each feeder. There was a bit of sugar water in one.  I quickly made new sugar water and filled all feeders. My
      husband said," You should not have done that.  They will never leave.  It's time for them to leave." But this bird was definitely hungry.
      There were some phlox and a few blooms in places but soon there will be none.  I felt because he might have been a migratory bird
      that filling the feeder was the right thing to do.  We will be back up there in a week and a half. Around Oct. 18th.  And i am hoping
      that last one we saw is gone.  I think I would worry about a hummingbird staying around with snow.  Franklin got a very cold and
      snowy winter last year.  

      Candy Pfau
      Palatka Fl & Franklin N.C.
      32148 & 28734

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    • fdietrich
      A little late responding to this but I m at Ft Morgan, AL and have not been able to see emails very easily. Several things that we have observed over the years
      Message 2 of 10 , Oct 11, 2011
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        A little late responding to this but I'm at Ft Morgan, AL and have not
        been able to see emails very easily.
        Several things that we have observed over the years of banding wintering
        hummingbirds in the southeast:
        These birds are not driven to migrate by the lack of food sources. The
        birds that were here in July and August have all gone south by September
        so the birds here at the end of September are the tail end of the
        trans-gulf migration population. Leaving a feeder out will not make
        them stay too long. If that were the case you would have to mow down
        all of your flowers and get rid of the bugs that make up the bulk of
        their diet. I think time of year and the presence of a cold front that
        makes the trip across the Gulf of Mexico much easier are the two major
        factors in determining when the birds depart. In Tallahassee the
        numbers of birds dropped off severely with the cold front just before
        the end of September, the same as last year.
        While there is no way to determine what portion of hummingbirds use
        feeders, all reports that we have been hearing are that people are
        seeing more than the usual number of hummers this summer and fall. This
        is despite the unusual periods of extreme heat and cold, wet and dry
        conditions that have been experienced. All indications are that this has
        been a very good year for the ruby-throated hummingbirds.
        Spending the winter in the southeast does not spell doom for these birds
        although extreme cold conditions obviously could harm them. Last year
        there were at least 3 rufous hummingbirds that spent their 9th winter in
        the southeast, 1 black-chinned that spent its 8th winter and two
        ruby-throated, including one in Tallahassee, that spent their 7th winter
        in the southeast. Additionally I have had two rufous that have spent 5
        winters at my home. Earlier thinking was that these birds were "lost",
        "vagrants", or "wandering" , but since they have continued to return to
        the same homes and look for the same feeder locations over many years,
        its apparent they know exactly where they are heading, they just have a
        different plan. We think that the increased presence of feeders has
        added to the survival rate of these birds.
        We don't have data over a long enough time span to determine trends for
        the wintering hummers, but in the past few years, rufous which used to
        be the most prevalent winter species has been replaced by ruby-throated.
        The last 2 years in the Tallahassee area I banded 80 birds during the
        winter and 44 of them were ruby-throated, 23 were rufous, 12 were
        black-chinned and 1 buff-bellied. For all of Florida in 2010 and 2011,
        63% of the winter hummers were ruby-throated, 22% rufous, 13%
        black-chinned and the rest buff-bellied, Allen's, calliope, broad-tailed
        and broad-billed.
        There is so much that we don't know about these birds, and the only
        definitive way to gather data is to band these birds and then recapture
        the bird later to give us insight into their migration patterns,
        longevity, site fidelity and other pieces of the puzzle that is their
        life. Its great fun and something that people can participate in by
        hosting these winter guests and becoming a part of our data gathering
        effort. Without banding we'd never know a rufous would come back to the
        same house for 9 winters in a row or that a rufous in Tallahassee would
        show up 5 months later in Chenega Bay, Alaska.
        Fred DietrichTallahassee, FL





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