A Sweet Sign of Spring!
It's a Sweet Month to Feed the Birds!
Spring migration is underway, and a countless number of birds are heading north to their nesting territories.
Fortunately, two of the hobby's favorite birds, hummingbirds and orioles, can be immediately attracted to feeders with nectar (and fruit and jelly for orioles), making it a sweet month to feed the birds.
Only 5% of all avian families include nectar as an important part of their diet, making hummingbirds and orioles part of a very exclusive dining club.
It only takes between 30 to 50 minutes for nectar to be digested, so hummingbirds must eat a lot and often. In fact, hummingbirds eat about every ten minutes and can drink up to twice their body weight in nectar every day.
However, no bird's diet is made up entirely of nectar. Nectar-eaters must also include other foods, usually insects, to obtain essential amino acids and other nutrients.
When orioles are not feeding on nectar or fruit, they forage for spiders, caterpillars and other insects. On colder days they will eat chopped peanuts. Hummingbirds spend more than 25% of their time foraging for arthropods, such as spiders.
You can attract hummingbirds and orioles to your feeders using slightly varying methods. Hummingbirds enjoy a nectar solution of four parts water to one part sugar. Orioles prefer a mix of six parts water to one part sugar (but, as you know, they readily drink from hummingbird feeders), plus solid foods, like fresh orange halves, grape jelly, and mealworms.
Watch Northern Migrations Online:
Visit www.learner.org/jnorth/humm to monitor the northward migration of hummingbirds and www.learner.org/jnorth/oriole for an oriole migration map.