Bird Watcher's General Store

Best Time for Hummer & Oriole Feeders - 05/04/01


Dear Bird Folks,

Is it time to put out our hummingbird and oriole feeders? A friend of mine put hers out weeks ago, but I told her that it was way too early. When should we put our feeders out and what is the formula again?

- Carl, North Truro

Now Carl,

"We" should put "our" feeders out now. That's right, put them out now. Never mind sitting on the couch and watching the taped highlights of "Survivor." Go to your garage where you swear you put your feeders last year and then ask your wife where you really put them. Wash them out really well, but be careful not to disturb the spider family that has moved in. Fill the feeders with the proper sugar water mixture. Use the same formula that I told you to use last summer (once again, go ask your wife).

Hummingbirds usually show up on the Cape the last week in April. Here in Orleans, we see them on April 23. They arrive in Eastham on April 24, South Wellfleet on April 25 and in Truro on April 26. They arrive in North Truro also on the 26th, but not until later in the day, around 3:30 or 3:45 p.m., depending on if they get stuck behind a school bus or not.

Orioles arrive about a week later than the hummers. On average, most people see orioles toward the end of the first week in May. If you have an oriole feeder, it should also go out now, with the same sugar water solution that your wife told you to make for the hummingbirds. Many people use orange halves to feed orioles. Oranges work great, sometimes even better than sugar water feeders for the first week or so. Then the oranges become too expensive.

Now Carl, in case your wife isn't speaking to you, I'm going to tell you for the last time the formula for making hummingbird food. It is one part sugar to four parts water. That's it, just sugar and water, no red food coloring, no honey, no sweet vermouth or anything else. Could you write it down this time, please.

As for your friend who put her feeders out weeks ago, let's just say that she was being optimistic or doesn't have much else to do. Tell her that the last week of April is plenty early to put out hummingbird feeders and if she needs something to do before that, she can always watch the taped highlights of "Survivor."



Artwork by Catherine Clark


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