It's early in the year and hummingbirds are making their first appearances in gardens across the country. Millions of hummingbirds are following the blooms scattered from coast to coast, and somewhere in the mix are a select number of hummingbirds specially made for each garden.
It's the time of year when residents across the continent drop all chores and house work, and ignore family members for the sake of a little bird. People become consumed with their presence and scream at one mere sighting. Many people will get on the phone and alert their neighbors, family and friends across the country that this mysterious little bird has shown up in their yard. Many will unguiltingly turn down wedding invitations of their family to simply stare at a hummingbird feeder, just for the slightest chance of seeing a single one of them. These birds simply have the power to transform our worst days into the best.
As the countryside develops colour and the days grow longer, these magnificent little birds skip from flower to flower until they reach the destination of their calling. Which route they take and how many smiles each one will create is unknown, but behind every house window is a set of peering eyes anxiously awaiting their arrival.
While the hummingbirds gradually move north from their winter homes, brilliant blooms of the south will keep them content while the northern thaw begins. From the time these birds start showing up in Southern United States to the time they reach their northernmost breeding regions, is approximately 2 1/2 months. Snow still covers gardens in the north while blankets of beautiful flowers brighten up the south, but every reported sighting across the continent brings excitement to every hummingbirder alive.
It's a migration that lasts quite a while. While countless numbers continue to move north into Canada, many others remain in their chosen territory to start a legacy of their own. Many residents remain on their toes for days, and even weeks, to see if their regulars will return. "Hummingbirders" are a different breed. They'll claim hummingbirds as their own, and recognize the slightest details as a parent would its child. They'll worry every day a hummingbird doesn't return within its scheduled time, and lay awake at night hoping they'll survive the night time storm.
Until we all see our very first hummingbird of the year, this is one thing that all "hummingbirders" have in common. We sit and wrestle with our anxieties while we wait for that very first hummingbird to grace our garden.
Adult Male Ruby-throat hummingbird. N.E. of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Spring 2017
Author of Jewel of the North. Please post your comments and questions.