Birds of a Feather

As May comes to a close, migratory birds have already begun searching for a summer home. This is very similar to the search for the perfect cottage getaway. The birds are seeking out access to water, reliable food sources, and the perfect nest location. Of these migratory birds, the most colourful and intriguing ones are the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds and Baltimore Orioles.

Each year beginning in March, Orioles and Hummingbirds begin their migration north from Mexico and southern United States. These birds often fly hundreds of miles to Ontario and usually arrive during early to mid May. You can track their trip with Journey North (www.journeynorth.org) and get up to date info on their progress!

Southern Ontario is a breeding ground for many species of birds; most notably the Hummingbirds and Orioles. When these beautiful birds arrive, they sure are hungry; and having specialized bird feeders is a very welcome sight for them! If you are lucky, they will choose an area near your home to raise their young and you will be able to enjoy them throughout the summer!

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds are the only species of hummingbird that we get to enjoy in Ontario but they sure are spectacular! Their iridescent colourations are very striking and their flight is almost helicopter-like which makes for an unmistakable identification. Their tiny wings beat around 50 times per second and are capable of achieving speeds of 43 kilometers per hour!

To attract Hummingbirds many people offer nectar and/or natural plant sources. Hummingbird feeders range in price from $15 to $50 dollars depending on the style of feeder and your budget. When offering nectar, simply make your own with regular granulated sugar and boiled water. You can also buy premade nectar but please avoid red-dyed nectar, this is unnecessary and potentially harmful! The ideal concentration will be four parts water to one part sugar. You can simply combine and then boil to dissolve the sugar completely. I prefer to boil the kettle of water first, then add it to the sugar in a container large enough to mix and store it in the fridge for later use. Great if you have multiple feeders to fill, as the nectar needs to be changed every few days during hot weather. If you cannot maintain this regimen, please stick to planting flowers which can beautify your garden and attract these gorgeous birds!

Hummingbirds love flowers; especially red ones and are very important pollinators. They prefer trumpet or tubular flower species, some of which include: cardinal flower, fuchsia, red morning glory, million bells, coral honeysuckle, red geraniums, and scarlet runners just to name a few. Hummingbirds will stay throughout the summer months into the fall when they begin their migration south in search of milder winter climates.

Baltimore Orioles are easily one of the most stunning birds we get to see each year! They are unmistakable with their orange & black colouration and are about the size of a red-winged blackbird. They certainly are very striking birds and a joy to witness in your backyard. To attract them, you can offer several different things. As they are frugivorous in nature they will feast on grape jelly, nectar, oranges, and also dark coloured fruit (purple grapes, blackberries, and blueberries). The most effective and seemingly desired food source by the orioles is grape jelly. There are several different feeder options ranging in price from $20 all the way up to $150 depending on the style you desire and your budget. The nectar used to attract Orioles is the same concentration as used in Hummingbird feeders so many people prefer the nectar feeder options. They are also notorious for pulling the nectar feeding ports off of Hummingbird feeders to access the nectar inside.

Baltimore Orioles will often begin their migration a little earlier than the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and begin their migration in the late summer.

Whether you decide to feed the hummers and orioles or let them naturally forage they will be grateful for anything you offer after their big journey!

Always remember…birds of a feather, migrate together!

Happy Birding!

WRITTEN BY: BRETT LAGERQUIST, Owner of Dufferin Wildlife Supplies and Caledon Mountain Wildlife Supplies and local bird enthusiast

PHOTOGRAPHY: MICHELE BLANCHARD-SEIDEL

Author: LivingSpaces

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