Not Seeing Hummingbirds: Calling Colibri

I’m in Piedmont NC, and have noticed that there is a dearth of hummingbirds this spring, now summer. We’ve had a rather cool spring, so figured that the hummies were pacing to that, but now it’s Hot, and, still, not as many ruby-throats.

I work in a professional garden, with plenty of hummer food sources. We are on the hummer A-list of B&B’s, but I don’t see them this year, for the first time. Aesculus (Buckeyes), are bearing fruit, so someone pollinated them. But Silenes, Salvias just starting, Monardas…I am not seeing the usual voracious nesting hummingbird hovers. This greatly alarms me. I’ve looked at the migration maps, and they were sighted here early April, I’ve seen a couple, but not in great numbers.

Colibri, any insight?

What I know about hummingbirds would fit inside a teaspoon.
I had to look up whether they migrate.
They do, from Florida, all the way to the northern tip of Newfoundland.

The Ruby-throat watchers at the same site blame 2004’s active hurricane season for this year’s dearth along the east coast.

You know I thought it was just me. I haven’t seen a single one yet this year either, and I saw more last year then I had in the 8 years I lived in this house.

Well, I’m afraid I can’t offer much beyond the information in **Squink’s ** second link. If there is, in fact, a dearth of hummingbirds in the east it’s quite possible that last year’s active hurricane season during their fall migration might have a lot to do with it.

Don’t be too alarmed, though. Hummers are pretty resilient, and they should be able to recoup their numbers with a few good breeding few years.

My feeder is thusfar untouched, and usually they’d be thick as thieves by this time of year.

I blame global climate change.

Won’t someone thing of the hummingbirds? :wink:

One postulated result of global climate change is increased frequency/intensity of hurricanes (not, as far as I know, demonstrated as yet), so it’s possible you are not too far off the mark.

Thanks, Colibri. My post was not tongue-in-cheek. I do blame global climate change for disrupting the typical migration patterns.

I heard a very good NPR program the other day addressing this very topic. The hurrican expert said that "No, there’s no evidence that global warming has anything to do with the current(10 years?) increase in hurricanes. Just part of a long-term cycle.

Hmm. Completely anecdotal, of course, but I saw my first hummer on June 7, earlier than last year, because I’d planted some red honeysuckle that blooms earlier than the jewelweed and monarda that I had in my garden for them up until that time does.
I’ve seen it or someone else a couple of times since then, too, even though the main plants for hummers in my garden, the aforementioned flowers, are only now beginning to bloom. I don’t usually get a whole lot, because I don’t put out a feeder, but so far, not only no difference, but a bit better than last year.
Anyway, long as I’m here, is there anything I can plant that blooms earlier than early June that I can plant for the hummers? Zone 6b, btw.

Thanks, Colibri, for answering. Last fall’s hurricane season was my second line of thought. If you find out more information, I’d greatly appreciate your posting it on the SD.

Thanks much for the good link, Squink. I’ve bookmarked it to keep informed.

As I said, the garden where I work has a huge array of plant nectar-sources, native and tropical, for hummers; we usually see them in large numbers, and have plenty of resident nesting birds. This year, it’s eerily quiet. I saw not a one today. I’ll take your advice on the resilience of humminbirds to heart, Colibri, but I really am missing them. And, of course, this has an effect on pollination and plant populations ,many hummingbird specific. Luckily, these same plants tend to be prodigious seed producers, so perhaps Ma Nature balances it out.

This is the first year I’ve ever hung feeders for them or even paid close enough attention to see the tiny little guys. Here in Kentucky, we’ve got a bunch. I guess they figured that they’re far enough inland here.


Saw your post post my post. Early spring-blooming hummingbird plants are Aesculus pavia, sylvatica, carnea (smallish understory shrubs) and columbine, specifically Aquilegia canadensis, Eastern columbine. Their bloom coincides with hummingbird migration up the East coast. Quite easy to grow, even weedy by some definitions, but beautiful, too.

Hey! I’ve got that last one, left over from the previous owner of this house.
Makes me wonder if the hummers come earlier but I never saw them? Hmm.

And thanks for answering, of course.