Hummingbirds Flap Around the Coastal Bend
The time of year has arrived for hummingbirds to visit the Coastal Bend as they migrate to Mexico or Central America for the winter. Residents of Aransas Pass spoil the hummingbirds by putting out several feeders in backyards to feed the tiny birds. Sylvia Mackie is one of those residents, and she shared this year she will have 10-12 feeders in her backyard. “I have to take care of my birds,” Mackie said. “It’s a lot of fun to feed them, take pictures of them and just see them through the window in the backyard.”
Hummers seldom sit on the feeders or flowers to eat. Instead, the constant motion of its tiny wings allows it to hover as the long tongue extends from the slender bill into a flower to drink the nectar. Without lingering long, the hummingbird will soon dart to a new plant or feeder.
Mackie explained the location of her house is a good spot for the hummingbirds because she has several trees on the outskirts of her yard for the hummers to go back and forth. “We saw the first few the last part of August,” Mackie said. “We’re seeing about a dozen right now, and in about two weeks [middle of September], we’ll have a couple hundred which is such a cool thing to see.”
Mackie started putting out just a couple of feeders five years ago. She explained she enjoyed seeing the birds, so the the second year she out out nine feeders bringing around 200 hummers at once time. “It was a feeding frenzy,” Mackie said. “They were everywhere.”
Mackie went on to say she used 10 bags of the 10 pound bags of sugar this time last year feeding the hummers. “When the time comes to feed the hummingbirds, the sugar goes quick at HEB,” Mackie said.
One cup of white sugar is dissolved in five cups of hot water then cooled and stored until needed. Mackie does not add any coloring because she says the red feeders attract the birds. Mackie also added she adds some bright landscaping around her yard because the hummers enjoy different flowers as well.
Mackie cleans the feeders each time she refills them which is every couple of days.
Since the bird cannot feed during its 500-mile trip over the water, it must store a tremendous amount of fat (five times as much as normal) all over its body to sustain it during the flight. Many migrating hummers concentrate in the coastal area of Texas for a few weeks before heading for their winter homes in Mexico and Central America.
To learn more about the tiniest bird visiting the Coastal Bend this fall, go to tpwd.texas.gov/publications/nonpwdpubs/introducing_birds/hummingbirds/.
Editor’s note: Annita West contributed to this article. Information courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife.