News & Events

Some information from the Ontario Hummingbird Project.

Migration

Ruby-throated hummingbirds spend the winter months in Central America and Mexico. Each year thousands of Ruby-throated hummingbirds are observed migrating past Hawk Watch locations in Southern Ontario. The adult males leave first in late July with the adult females following next. The immature hummingbirds are the last to leave in September. It is rare for hummingbirds to linger in Ontario after the beginning of October. Some hummingbirds fly straight across the Gulf of Mexico while others follow the western shore through Texas and Mexico. We don’t know which migration pathway is preferred by Ontario’s hummingbirds. In the spring, hummingbirds reverse their trip and return to the breeding grounds moving north approximately 25-30 kms each day.

Feeders

Feeders should be set out in mid-April to provide food for the earliest arrivals.

Feeders should be left out in the fall until freezing becomes a problem. This will not prevent hummingbirds from migrating but will provide a food source for late migrants. It may also attract the attention of a wandering Rufous Hummingbird, a rare winter visitor to Ontario.

The best nectar solution to offer hummingbirds at any time of year is a 4:1 mixture of water and sugar.

Honey and other types of sugar are not recommended, and food colouring should not be added. Higher concentrations of sugar are not recommended in cold weather because hummingbirds have very basic kidneys and cannot easily process excess amounts of sugar. Excess sugar concentrations could harm or even kill hummingbirds.

Protein solutions are not recommended either. The hummingbirds will find protein sources in the environment. If a protein solution is offered, it is important to also have a regular 4:1 water and sugar solution available as well.

Glass feeders are recommended because soft plastic can break down in heat and sunlight, potentially adding chemical residue to the nectar. Choose a feeder that is easy to take apart for cleaning. Clean the feeders with warm, soapy water and rinse well every 3-4 days in cool weather and more often during the hot summer months.

For more information, visit http://www.ontariohummingbirds.ca