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self portrait - circa 1996


Our Customers Say the Darnedest Things

hummer fly-thru serviceJohn Burmeister, Grand Blanc, recently asked us if ruby-throated hummingbirds had a particular migration behavior. We told him we assumed they flew slow and low nectaring on flowers as they made their way south to Mexico. He immediately smiled, paused, and said, “Then, I must have some hummingbird in me because when I travel I stop quite often at Starbucks, and any place I can find cherry pies.”

For a variety of reasons, we are seeing more hummingbirds in our area than any other time this spring or summer. We observed scrapping males at the feeders; they begin migration earlier than the females, and we’re also seeing moms with their offspring. September / October is a great time to put out a hummingbird feeder, if you have not done so already, and it is a myth that leaving hummingbird feeders up past a certain time will cause them to stay. Experts think migration is driven by the shortening of our daylight hours, not food supply. If the food supply theory were true, males wouldn’t begin migration in August when food supply is still plentiful.

Hang those feeders now to enjoy the hummer activity, and keep them up until November if you like. To quote the late Roger Tory Peterson, “Keeping hummingbird feeders available late into fall will help a hummingbird along the way as most natural nectar supplies have been depleted.”

Gentle reminder: do not use any artificial food coloring when making hummingbird nectar. We still do not know if food coloring is safe. As they say ... when in doubt, do without. And, the safest ratio is four parts water to one part pure cane sugar. Many people think increasing sugar content is helpful when in fact it is hard on the little fliers’ digestive system.

Louise Dawson
on behalf of the the Naturalists at J.J. Cardinal’s

"Happiness is wanting what you have."

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hummingbird line drawing by Louise 

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J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store ®
12830 S. Saginaw St., Grand Blanc, MI  48439  810-695-8733
09/03/09 illustrations, text & fun © J.J. Cardinal's 1992-2009
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