While some people have been receiving hummingbird sightings for some time now, there are many in the south who are feeling a sense of hopelessness, and many in Canada who are still waiting for their first arrivals. We've all seen the videos where countless hummingbirds are squabbling over multiple feeders. Many see these videos and wonder what they're doing wrong to not be able to attract just one.
The fact is this, many people live in a direct migratory route, and this would apply commonly to those along the West Coast where Rufous and Anna's hummingbirds travel up a much narrower path than the Ruby-throats. The mountain divide funnels the Rufous and the Anna's through a much narrower channel. The Ruby-throats travel up the eastern half of the divide, which widens the further you go north. This has a direct impact in different ways for those that live on both sides of the mountain divide. Some of these birds may cross over the mountains and wandered into the other's territory, but the vast majority stay on their own side. You'll see the opposite effect when they start going south. The western half widens and the eastern half narrows. Overall, the width of the migration path of the western hummingbirds is much narrower than that of the Ruby-throat's on the East side.
Knowing this, residents on the eastern side of the divide should understand the population gets scattered across a larger area, forcing us to fight over lesser numbers. This is what separates the dedicated from the part time "Hummingbirders". Those that invest the time, change the feeders and plan out the perfect hummingbird garden, will see greater results than those who put out a feeder and pull it down after the first two weeks with no success.
For those who think they're doing something wrong when they see only a few hummingbirds as apposed to those who have hundreds, don't just assume that. Some regions can be incredibly successful in just having a few birds based on the population for that region.
While some may smile over a yard full of hummingbirds, there are some embarrassing happy dances, pirouettes and back flips going on in some neighborhoods over the appearance of just one hummingbird. Some of these people can be seriously nuts, but that's what a single hummingbird can do. You may not have great numbers, but that can be improved over time. Give them reasons to keep returning and they will!
This is one of the nicest looking Adult Male Ruby-throated hummingbirds I've seen. He has the perfect appearance, with no blemishes. N.E. of Edmonton, Alberta. 2015.
Author of Jewel of the North. Please post your comments and questions.