Press-Republican

Columns

October 6, 2013

Hummingbirds appreciate a helping hand

Migrations are the seasonal movements of animals between their summer breeding grounds and their winter habitats. Other than leaves turning to gold, red and orange, I can think of nothing in nature that signals the change of seasons more clearly or remarkably.

As recently as last week, I was speaking with birders in both Franklin and Clinton counties who still have hummingbirds visiting their feeders. Both were inquiring as to whether their feeders should be left up. The thinking is that all hummingbirds should be southbound by now, and that removing the feeders will encourage stragglers to get a move on.

Worldwide, there are more than 300 species of hummingbirds, all in the western hemisphere. The ruby throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is the only species found in eastern North America. They are solitary creatures, neither living nor migrating in flocks.

And, since it’s believed that all hummingbird migration is prompted by decreasing daylight and not by changes in temperature or food availability, removing feeders will not encourage them to leave. Because they need to fatten up if they are going to survive the journey south, there is no reason not to go on feeding them. In fact, several sources recommend leaving feeders up until two weeks after the last hummingbird is seen feeding.

In order to sustain enough energy to support their elevated metabolisms, hummingbirds must consume nectar, either from suitable flowers or from sugar-water solutions in feeders. Like all living creatures, they also need protein. While they do receive some from pollen that gets stuck to their tongues and bills, in order to get the amount necessary to remain healthy, an adult hummingbird must eat several dozen insects daily.

They are adept at snatching insects out of the air or from spider webs, off of leaves and flowers, and out of holes left in trees by sapsuckers. Before heading south, hummingbirds will often gorge themselves on insects to put on the layer of fat needed to nourish them through the journey.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg A monastery in the Hebrides, after 1,000 years

    Before Father Seraphim Aldea can build a monastery on Scotland's Mull Island, he needs to have a working septic system, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tobias_Sue_012914.jpg Old movies offer more than entertaining TV

    Columnist Susan Tobias and her husband, Toby, are reminded of simple childhood memories while watching an old black-and-white movie.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time