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It’s time to put your hummingbird feeders out

Petunias are a favorite feeding flower for the ruby-throated hummingbird. Here, a male hummer feeds at a blossom.
Petunias are a favorite feeding flower for the ruby-throated hummingbird. Here, a male hummer feeds at a blossom.

Each spring the ruby-throated hummingbirds make a long flight to the United States and Canada from there habitats in Central and South America.

There has been a sighting of a male as far north as the Ohio River valley this week, where Illinois and Kentucky share the river.

There is good reason why we first see only the flashy jewel necked males when they get to Illinois.

The males travel north before the females in order to secure the best piece of “property” in hopes of attracting a mate when the females arrive later.

Our initial visitors are usually on their way to Canada. You cannot make a mistake in identifying this bird as it is the only species of hummingbird, out of about 15 in the U.S., found in Illinois.

At less than an ounce the hummingbird is our smallest bird. They can consume twice their body weight daily.

This energy allows them to continue the rigorous flight patterns for which they are known.

The ruby-throated hummingbird beats its wings 90 to 200 times per second creating their humming sound.

The nest is very small and can be the size of a thimble and is often created with lichen from trees held together by spider webs. The two petite eggs laid in the nest are a pearly white.

In order to capture the eye of your migrant hummers, and keep them around until garden flowers are blooming in mass, you may want to create a feeding station.

Make a sugar water solution of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar and heat it on the stove until all the sugar is dissolved. Don’t let it come to a boil. Cool the mixture and put small amount into a feeder specifically for hummingbirds.

The rest of your mixture can be stored in the refrigerator There is no need to fill them full because you need to empty and clean them every few days.

Keep your containers clean using a mild vinegar and water solution to discourage any mold in the bottles. Do not use red food coloring as most feeders have red on them, and the dye could be harmful to the little creatures.

Planting lots of warm colored tubular flowers, such as impatiens, petunias, native honey suckle, nasturtiums, and columbine, is the best way to keep the ruby-throated hummingbirds in your yard.

Hummingbirds are also attracted to moving water such as waterfalls, fountains, and especially misters.

Nothing is more exciting than the first arrival of such a tiny character to your yard. Have your feeders out by April 15.