Q: How do you keep hummingbirds from leaving your yard?
A: With Zip ties.
Here's my overview of the 2016 hummingbirds season.
We started off with a very unusual Spring. It was very mild in Western Canada and very cool in the East. I fully anticipated early hummingbirds this Spring, and that theory became 50% true. The Rufous hummingbirds came up the West Coast, and nothing slow them down heading into BC and Alberta. Many of them showed up at least three weeks earlier than... average times. The Ruby-throats always come up the eastern half of the United States, and this Spring they hit a cold wall just before they reached Canada. Although many of the Ruby-throats arrived at early average times, the rest of the northern migration was severely broken. Inconsistent arrivals randomly showed up all the way through mid July. Seeing this broken Northern migration made me question what kind of turnout we'd have in our garden just before the southern migration. Well, it turned out like nothing I've seen.
The first young showed up right on average. We also had some very late females that showed up later than average, which meant later young from the nest. What made this season very unusual is that very few of the young stuck around beyond a few days. Many still figured out the feeders but were still called south before they matured. So what happened in our yard is that females would bring their young, they would feed for a few days, and then head south. This happened repeatedly throughout the time that they typically gather and squabble over flowers and feeders through the busiest time of the migration. The numbers usually increase and the majority stick around to create chaos before we slowly lose a few each day to the migration. There was never chaos in our yard this year, but I do believe we had similar numbers to last year. They all just didn't stick around to argue who gets what. Another thing that was very unusual this year was the early growth of perennials. They started early and ended early. Whether this had anything to do with them starting to leave early is merely speculation. I believe there are many variables that dictate their departure, many of which are beyond our knowledge. What I do believe is that the wider the migration is spread apart, the less likely bad weather is able to decimate their population. We've still had a few sightings in Alberta over the last few days, and this is probably an indication that NO severe, prolonged weather is imminent for the near future.
Let me know if your season has been similar.
Author of Jewel of the North. Please post your comments and questions.