Your 2024 guide to hummingbird season in North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Joshua J. Cotten via Unsplash.

By Tyler Francischine

April 26, 2024

Transform your yard or garden into a hummingbird’s paradise with these do’s and don’ts.

Across the Tar Heel State, springtime marks the arrival of one special visitor whose movements are so quick, you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled to greet them. Ruby-throated hummingbirds have been arriving in droves to North Carolina this April as part of their annual migration to breeding grounds throughout the southern United States.

Want to make your yard or garden the perfect rest stop for these tiny travelers? Read on to gain tips from the experts:

Facts about hummingbirds in North Carolina

According to Hummingbird Central, an online resource for information about annual hummingbird migration throughout North America, most hummingbirds spend their winters enjoying the warmth in Mexico or Central America, only migrating north to reach their breeding grounds when temperatures rise in spring.

North Carolinians with an eye for observation may have already spotted these pint-sized powerhouses along their migratory journey — hummingbirds migrate during daytime hours at a path low to the ground, allowing them to fuel up on flower nectar along the way.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only type of hummingbird that regularly travels to the eastern United States in order to breed, though 10 other species have been spotted — albeit rarely — in North Carolina in recent years, according to the greater Triangle area’s News & Observer.

You’ll be able to quickly identify a ruby-throated hummingbird by its brilliant coloring: look for males sporting an iridescent red throat paired with an emerald or golden-green crown and backside. Female ruby-throated hummingbirds are much easier to miss, as their coloring is limited to green and white, a natural camouflage that grants them safety while they spend the vast majority of their time building and maintaining their nests.

Your 2024 guide to hummingbird season in North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Joshua J. Cotten via Unsplash.

As Hummingbird Central notes, ruby-throated hummingbirds don’t mate in pairs like many of their fellow bird species. Instead, the male flies away immediately following the act in order to find other females with whom to mate. Meanwhile, the female must build a nest using spider webs, branches, plants, and lichens, not to mention incubate the eggs and raise the next generation.

Much like the small stature of the birds themselves, hummingbird nests are only about one-and-a-half inches across, and the two eggs that each ruby-throated hummingbird lays are each less than an inch long. According to the American Bird Conservancy, after a two-week gestation period, hummingbird nestlings emerge from their eggs and spend the next month being fed and cared for by their mother until the time comes to fly the coop and embark on their own journeys.

Ready to meet these fascinating fliers? Read on to learn how to best attract ruby-throated hummingbirds to your area this spring.

The do’s and don’ts of attracting hummingbirds in North Carolina


Do
hang a feeder full of sugary hummingbird food in your yard or garden.

Susan Campbell is the scientific director of Cape Fear Bird Observatory who’s studied hummingbirds in North Carolina for three decades. As this expert told the News & Observer, you can replicate the sugar content in a hummingbird’s favorite flower by creating a simple solution at home: mix ¼ cup of white table sugar into 1 cup of filtered water. Campbell advises against buying commercially made hummingbird food solutions, as these can contain potentially dangerous chemicals and dyes.

Your 2024 guide to hummingbird season in North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Joshua J. Cotten via Unsplash.

Do attract hummingbirds with the color red, but use caution.

As North Carolina State Extension notes, hummingbirds can’t resist the color red, so it’s a great idea to purchase a feeder that has a red nectar port. If you already own a different colored feeder, simply apply a small piece of red tape near each opening to encourage visiting hummingbirds to stop by for some fuel. The extension office cautions against adding red food coloring to your sugar solution as a method of attracting these tiny fliers, as this chemical could have potentially harmful effects on a hummingbird’s digestive system.

Your 2024 guide to hummingbird season in North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Joshua J. Cotten via Unsplash.

Don’t just let your sugar solution sit in the feeder.

Though you may be tempted to leave your homemade sugar solution sitting in the feeder until it’s been completely consumed, The News and Observer reports that solutions should be replaced at least weekly, so as to not serve spoiled food to your guests. When temperatures rise above 80 degrees, the sugar solution will ferment within only a few days, and the feeder will need to be thoroughly cleaned.

Do perform regular maintenance and cleaning on your feeder.

Experts at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension recommend checking on your feeder each day to make sure it remains clean and unclogged. When the sugar solution begins to leave a sticky residue behind, it’s time to disassemble the feeder and deeply clean it. Begin by soaking all parts in hot water, taking care to scrub each crevice, especially the nectar ports. If you can’t reach deep into the port, utilize a pipe cleaner tool to help remove remaining residue. Next, simply air dry and reassemble your feeder before replenishing it with fresh sugar solution.

Do plant hummingbird-friendly vines in your garden.

Feeling overwhelmed by the care required to maintain a healthy hummingbird feeder? Opt for planting native North Carolinian vines in your garden instead. As reported by Audubon North Carolina, a regional office of the National Audubon Society, both cross vine and trumpet creeper produce gorgeous flowers that will surely attract ruby-throated hummingbirds to your garden throughout the spring.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Your 2024 guide to hummingbird season in North CarolinaYour 2024 guide to hummingbird season in North Carolina

Author

  • Tyler Francischine

    Tyler Francischine is a journalist who writes about travel, arts, culture and community. She's passionate about social justice, the Atlantic Ocean and live music.

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