The Ultimate Bucket List for Hummingbird Lovers
These 10 activities, some silly and some seriously cool, are ideas that every hummingbird enthusiast should experience.
Several years ago, I was lucky enough to take a trip to southeasternArizona where every destination, hike and tour focused on hummingbirds. My fellowtravelers and I walked around starry-eyed, clutching cameras and scribbling field notesas we watched the tree branches and feeders. And we werent disappointed; hummingbirdswere everywhere. All told, I spotted 13 different species on that trip, includingseveral rarities.
The experience stuck with me, and made me realize that althoughwatching hummingbirds at backyard sugar-water feeders is pretty wonderful, there are alot of other ways to indulge that interest. This list of 10 hummingbird activities is agood place to start. What are you waiting for?
Take a hummingbird vacation.
Southwestern states like Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texasoffer the largest concentration of hummingbirds and a diverse range of hummingbirdspecies. Destinations like Ramsey Canyon Preserve in Arizona or Davis Mountains StatePark in Texas are especially known for plentiful and rare hummingbird sightings. But ifsuch destinations are too far afield for you, take a day trip to a botanical garden thathas plenty of sugar-water feeders. Youll see hummingbirds by the dozen, especiallyduring fall migration.
Attend a hummingbird festival.
Hummingbird people are good people, and theres no better place tomeet those kindred spirits than at a hummingbird festival. You can find these events allover the country. The festivals usually take place in July through September and areconcentrated in areas that experience abundant migration activity. The Rockport-FultonHummerBird Celebration in Texas and the Sedona Hummingbird Festival in Arizona are twoof the best ones.
Start a hummingbird journal.
Heres an activity you can do without leaving home. Keep a journal ofthe hummingbird activity in your yard. Note when the first hummingbird arrives in springand when the final one departs in fall. How many visit your feeders? How does theiractivity shift during the day? Notice changing factors like weather or feeder placement,and write down those funny hummingbird stories, too!
Get a hummingbird tattoo.
Real or temporary, a tattoo is a whimsicalor really devotedway toacknowledge your love of hummingbirds. Smack that piece of dampened paper to your skin(or visit a reputable tattoo artist), and smile.
Hand-feed a hummingbird.
Imagine the thrill of having a tiny hummingbird, which typicallyweighs 0.1 to 0.2 ounces (less than a marshmallow), alight on your palm. Givehand-feeding a whirl during nesting season or before migration, when the birds areexpending a lot of energy and eating a lot of food. Spend time near your feeders, so thebirds become accustomed to your presence. Then, cover all feeders but one, and hold thatremaining feeder in your lap. Not every attempt will be successful, but be patient andkeep trying.
Researchers have been banding birds to gather information aboutmigration, lifespan and population since 1920 as part of the North American Bird BandingProgram. Hummingbird banding is an extremely specialized activity, with hummingbirdsmaking up less than 1 percent of the birds banded. The banders themselves are an elitegroup, and hold special permits. Participate in the process by volunteering at bandingevents, which take place at hummingbird festivals, or during migration periods along keyflyways.
Recognize hummingbird calls.
Experienced birders dont need binoculars to identify birds. They usetheir ears instead, and usually know a particular bird is nearby well before they spotit. Hummingbirds, though not known for their songs, still make a series of distinctcalls. Become attuned to these sounds by finding recordings at websites liketo learn the calls of different hummingbirds and what they mean.
Share your hummingbird passion with others.
Thinking back to that Arizona hummingbird trip, one of its mostenjoyable aspects was the shared experience. That sharing can happen on a trip, at afestival, on your front porch or at places like local schools and senior centers. Lookfor teaching or volunteering opportunities in your community to pass along what you loveabout hummingbirds. Thats one experience that will surely make your life richer.
Find a nesting hummingbird.
Hummingbirds usually build their intricately engineered nests on treebranches, but sometimes the birds select more visible and unorthodox nesting spots likeplant hooks, chandelier-style light fixtures or electrical wires. Any horizontal surfaceunder a protective roof will usually do, though nests can be really hard to find. Gatherup your hummingbird-loving friends, and set out on the search.
Creating your own sugar-water feeder is incredibly simple, and ifyoure crafty, youve probably already built one or maybe a dozen! For the rest of us,check out sites like Pinterest (or hey, birdsandblooms.com) for innumerable ideas. Myfavorite DIY sugar-water feeders are the ones made from a pretty glass bottle, a stopperand a tube. You can buy the stopper and feeder tube attachments online; just search forhummingbird feeder tube to get started.