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Today I am hoping to teach you some new things about these feathered friends that we look so forward to see each Spring.

First and foremost get your Oriole and Hummingbird feeders out by April 15th. That’s the earliest you can see them. Sometimes I don’t see them until May 1st but I still put them out early for the early birds!

Did you know that the Ruby Throated hummingbird flies 600 miles NONSTOP (about 18-20 hours) across the Gulf of Mexico during both it’s spring and fall migration?

Banding shows that each bird tends to return every year to the same place it hatched, even visiting the same feeders!! That’s amazing to me!!

For a hummer that has just hatched, there is no memory of a past migration, only an urge to put on a lot of weight and fly in a particular direction for a certain amount of time, then look for a good place to spend winter. Once it learns such a route, a bird may retrace it every year as long as it lives. The initial urge is triggered by the shortening length of sunlight as autumn approaches, and has nothing to do with temperature of the availability of food. In fact, hummingbirds migrate south at the time of greatest food abundance. When the bird is fat enough, it migrates. It is not necessary to take down feeders to force hummingbirds to leave, and in the fall all the birds at your feeder are already migrating anyway. If you remove your feeder, birds will just feed elsewhere, but may not bother to return to your yard next year. I recommend continuing to maintain feeders until freezing becomes a problem.Orioles spend their winter in Mexico and Central and South America where they can find a steady source of insects, fruit, and nectar.

More expert tips on how to attract Orioles to your backyard!

  • Start early. Your best chance of attracting orioles is when they first arrive in early spring.
  • Use the same nectar recipe for orioles as you do for hummingbirds four parts boiled water to one part sugar. Keep nectar fresh and don’t use food coloring.
  • These birds are attracted to the color orange, so look for a sugar-water feeder specifically designed for orioles.
  • Make sure your feeder has large enough perches and drinking ports. It’s not unusual for orioles to try hummingbird feeders, but their bills are often too big. Orioles love the color and taste of oranges. Offer orange halves on a branch or feeder. Orioles will also eat grape jelly. Serve the jelly in an open dish or cup, and keep it fresh.
  • When placing the oriole feeder in your yard, think like a bird. Instead of hiding the feeder under an awning or tree, put it out in the open so the birds can see it while flying overhead.
  • Hang your feeder near a birdbath. If your bath has a bubbler, even better. Orioles love the sight and sound of moving water.
  • If you don’t attract orioles in your first year, keep at it. It often takes several seasons to find a following.

Now if only the snow would stop trying to take over our Spring here in Nebraska we could sit outside soon and look for these amazing colorful birds!

Happy Birding from all of us here at For The Wild Birds!

—Crinda Williams

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