Hummers on Their Way
It is early to be talking about ruby-throated hummingbirds in Missouri because you are not likely to see them here until late April. I bring it up now because I’ve already been asked if it’s too early to put up hummingbird feeders. It is too early for that, but it’s not too early to visit an interesting website that annually tracks the spring migration of ruby-throats based on observers' reports. You can see the 2011 migration map at the link provided. As of today, the earliest arrivals are still in the southern tier of the southeastern states.
There’s something encouraging about this annual natural event being underway again, being repeated as it has for thousands of years, long before we were here to track it on our computers. The map is fascinating to me. It’s easy to imagine the observation points as the birds themselves, crossing the Gulf of Mexico and beginning to finger their way into the North American continent. There is a link on the site to a discussion of “ruby-throated migration” that is full of interesting facts.
You can submit your own observation to the site, if you spot an early-arriving hummingbird. As stated in the article, the mapped locations are the earliest arrivals and the bulk of the population doesn’t arrive until a few weeks after those early birds. At my house in Jefferson City, the first hummingbirds of the spring are seen visiting flowering columbine and red buckeye flowers. April 25 is a good target date for putting up your feeders, or whenever you see the birds in your area.