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Hummingbird Migration
September 13, 2010

So I'm messing around with a roll of duct tape and I was wondering.............

Did MacGyver have a first name?

Now that I have your attention,

Welcome and many blessings to you.

I can't say I am to thrilled with the first part of September.

It has been way to chilly and way to soon, for my liking.

The past several Septembers have given me many 80 plus degree days and some time at Lake Michigan.

What happened to the typical heat wave the first week of school starting?

Isn't that supposed to be a tradition?

The cool weather and damp nights have put a damper on veggies ripening and for sure has given mildew an opportunity to thrive.

This late in the season I'm not going to worry about mildew, however.

Fall is definitely in the air.

You can feel it and smell and to some degree, see it.

Some of the American goldfinches are changing colors.

If you are new to birding, Goldfinches are one species of bird that molt into winter colors and then molt again in spring to their bright breeding colors.

Females do a partial molt in spring.

The picture taken Friday shows a male changing.

Do you see the juvenile on the bottom of the feeder?

Notice the more drab colors and the shorter tail.

The air is filled with the sound of young finches as they continue to be fed and taught the fine art of foraging.

That is one thing I look forward to this time of year.

This is the second year in a row that I have a late batch of fledgling Northern cardinals.

September and three young ones show up and papa was busy feeding them.

The time is right, as my annuals are in peak bloom.

Hummingbirds are busy gorging and nothing beats Nature's food bank.

I understand why 'Agastache' is called 'Texas Hummingbird Mint'.

Hummers can't leave it alone.

What makes this plant so special.............

It is rich and nectar.

It starts to bloom in mid summer and continues to grow and bloom well into autumn.

And that is here in Michigan.

Not exactly a native plant up here, but hummers are familiar with this beautiful plant.

A must have for any hummingbird garden, hardy to Z5/6.

It is the time of year when hummingbirds are busy gaining weight and many are already on the move.

If you live in the southern United States, plan on putting out an extra feeder or two.

You will be rewarded.

This week's topic.......................

Hummingbird Migration.


It happens every year.

Creation has set up a wonderful system for all of nature.

The daylight hours grow shorter and the temperatures become cooler.

All of the natural world's time clocks run on the length of day with the warmth and cool days playing a part.

Plant life begins to shut down as many of us look forward to the brilliant colors of autumn.

Leaves are shed, annuals die and perennials die back after storing food to survive another winter.

Four legged creatures respond to the calls of nature as well.

Many are blessed with a winter coat.

Even I have been known to add a little winter wool (weight).

Yes, many animals will not only put on a thick winter coat, but some change colors as well.

Still other may migrate, add wool and change colors, like the Great Caribou herds of Alaska and Canada.

Still others feast and gorge on anything edible to gain needed weight to either survive hibernation or the lean times ahead.

Creation is so awe inspiring isn't it?

Most insects go into dormancy or may be unique and be a true migratory insect like Monarch butterflies.

While many species of birds tuff out the cold northern winters, others have big plans ahead of them.

Our feathered friends have different ways of handling the cold of winter.

Some birds molt into a whole different color for winter like our American goldfinches.

Others actually add a winter coat by adding several hundred feathers and can adjust blood flow.

Still others migrate to warmer climates, or even to sub-tropical and tropical regions.

Birds like the snow goose often make the trip from northern Canada to the southern states in a non stop flight.

Other birds dawdle and take their time on the trip south.

Our beloved hummingbirds are no different.

Diminutive Feathered Marvels.

Poetry on Wings.

Flying Jewels.

Little Dynamo

Call them what you want.

We all admire them and are in awe of their abilities.

Even the brash, sometimes cockiness that a hummer displays.

Some of your hummingbirds may be gone by now and you may have other hummers that have moved in.

Hummingbirds need to fatten up and head south while food supplies are abundant.

Before killing frosts take care of many flowering plants and before the insects go dormant.

August and September are ideal times to fatten up and gradually head south.

Flowers are peaking and human feeders offer important supplements.

Equipped only with Creation's natural gifts, a hummingbird will automatically begin to gorge itself.

Even juveniles that are totally clueless, as parents don't bother to teach or train.

Male hummingbirds are out of the picture after mating.

The mother hummer looks at her fledglings as competition for food and will chase them away, as soon as they are able to care for themselves.

In reality, most hummingbirds just plain don't like each other and can show some real aggression certain times of the year.

There are times they tolerate each other, but a social bird they aren't.

Yet the God given instinct tells a young bird they need to add some serious weight and soon.

Fledglings or juvenile hummingbirds look much like their mother in color and markings.

Though in some species a young male will support a 5:00 o'clock shadow where a colorful 'gorget' will be after molting

The picture to the right and one justabove shows a young male Ruby-throated hummingbird visiting one of my feeders.

Sometimes a real feather or two of color will mix in with bearded look.

Hummers need to double their weight and spend a lot of extra energy to do so.

And they need to do it now.

When the call comes, each little bird has hopefully doubled its weight and takes off on its own.

No flocks, no gathering place, they simply are here today and gone tomorrow.

By the time the birds reach parts of the south, it may seem like a flock has converged, but each hummer has shown up on its own.

For More information, read on Hummers Migrating

I offer several nectar rich flowers, but I also bump up my feeders from 4 parts to 1 to 3 parts to 1.

In actuality, 3 parts to 1 is closer to more flowers than 4 to 1 ratio is.

Read Feeding Hummingbirds for more on this topic.

I don't need to see hummers at my feeders more often, I need them to fatten up.

Do not take your feeders down, you aren't keeping a hummer from migrating.

The truth is..............................

You will be saving a hummer life or two.

A Bit More on Your Hummers.

Hummingbirds are the only species of birds that lack down feathers and that already give them a disadvantage.

Down feathers insulate.

Without a layer of soft down feathers, heat escapes and cold is allowed in.

Hummingbirds are blessed with special gift called TORPOR

A semi hibernation so to speak.

When temperatures get to cold, a hummer's body functions slow way down.

In this state, they might appear to be dead.

The hummingbird can conserve energy this way. As soon as the bird warms up, it will revive and all of its functions will return to normal.

If you find a hummingbird hanging upside down on your feeder in the morning, do not assume that it is dead.

I don't know why or how these little dynamos survive for days in freezing temperatures but they do.

(Ruby's seem to be the least tolerant of cold weather.)

I hear from people every year.

We all worry when this happens but don't take your feeder down, more hummers die of starvation during migration than all others causes combined.

The hummingbird knows it needs to fatten up on your feeders may be the only source around.

Different species of hummingbirds winter in different locations and head south at different times.

Some migrate to the southern USA, Mexico, Central America and South America. Ruby-throated - southern Texas and Florida, Cuba and down to southern Mexico.

Anna's hummingbird may simply move from the mountains and hills of Washington and Oregon to the warmer coastal regions in the same regions.

By the time fall migration comes, many hummingbirds are relying on worn-out feathers making migration a bit more taxing.

They will begin to molt anytime from September to November and later, while out of view of most US and Canada hummingbird watchers.

Each feather will take several weeks to regain its size and shape.

Even in a feeding frenzy, hummers take time out to rest as witnessed in my yard on the weather vane.

Keeping your feeders up and full will not keep the birds from migrating.

Remember, they eat lots of protein in their diets too and that doesn't come from sugar feeders.

They need insects!

Shortened days, not a lack of food, will tell the hummingbirds when to begin their journey.

Leave the feeders up at least three weeks after seeing your last bird.

This will help migrating birds that pass through your area.

It is important to leave your feeders up Clean and full.

Migrating birds need all the quick and easy nourishment they can find to sustain the incredible energy demands of migration.

It is vital that hummingbirds fatten up for their extended trips that require almost unimaginable amounts of energy.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

There is nothing so comfortable as money, - but nothing so defiling if it be come by unworthily; nothing so comfortable, but nothing so noxious if the mind be allowed to dwell upon it constantly. If a man have enough, let him spend it freely. If he wants it, let him earn it honestly.


Having money is a good thing,

Helping others with some of your spare cash is even better.

When to love of money gets in the way of your daily life, you have crossed the line.

To many people do wicked things to make that extra buck.

Thankfully you aren't one of them.

Smile and thank the Lord for what you have.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

1 Timothy: 6-10

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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