Submitted by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County
(Oneida County, NY – May 2013) It seems so sad that the daffodils and tulips are already starting to fade away. Soon they will be replaced by Rhododendrons, Lilacs and colorful hanging baskets. Mother Nature has perfectly coordinated the emergence of brightly colored tubular flowers with the needs of migrating hummingbirds. These tiny little sugar loving birds arrive in our area at the end of April. Hovering over flowers they use their long slender beaks and tongue to sip the nectar from flowers.
If you don’t have a green thumb but would still like to attract hummingbirds to your yard consider hanging a bright red Hummingbird feeder. These can be purchased in most stores that have a gardening section. The following recipe from Cornell Lab of Ornithology can be made quickly at home, just remember that you need to clean the feeder and replace the syrup every few days to prevent harmful bacteria from developing. Boil ¼ cup of sugar per cup of water. Cool and pour into feeder. Never use honey, food coloring or artificial sweeteners as these are harmful to the birds. http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Page.aspx?pid=1181
Another migrating bird that you may have noticed is the Robin. These heralds of spring with their bright red breasts arrive in flocks that settle on our yards eating the first emerging insects of the season. Robins have adapted well to our suburban lifestyles. Nests can be built in the rafters of a porch, on the wreaths of our doors, even above the porch light. Share pictures of bird nests at: http://goo.gl/vD0vq
As the male Robins arrive they seek out suitable nesting sites. They tend to defend these territories vigorously against other potential rivals. Some birds are so defensive that they even fight with reflections of themselves. These birds are often observed pecking or beating themselves against windows. Blocking the birds’ reflection should eliminate the problem. While it might not look good, covering your window from the outside with newspaper or a sheet will work. You can also try putting a light on inside the room or near the window. Go outside and look, if you can see your reflection, the robin can see his. The good news is that once he finds a mate and they start caring for the young he will be too busy to worry about his reflection and you can remove the coverings or light.
Want more information about birds visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website at: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Page.aspx?pid=1478
Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are available to answer your gardening questions Wednesday and Fridays from 9-Noon, call 736-3394 or view our gardening fact sheets at: www.cceoneida.com