Humming Along

Humming Along

March 1st, 2012 by Perla Trevizo in Getout Birding

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can flap their wings 70 times per second and drink 8 times their weight in water in one day.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can flap their wings 70 times...

Every March, the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds - the only hummer commonly known east of the Mississippi - start their migration north from places like Mexico, Central and South America, where they spend the cold winters.

This small bird - about 3 inches tall and the weight of a penny - arrives in the Chattanooga area toward the end of March and beginning of April. "They are so cute and beautiful," says Kyle Waggener, director of education and lead naturalist at the Chattanooga Arboretum & Nature Center. "The males with their beautiful red gorget."

The best way to attract these jewels of nature is by planting a "hummingbird garden" usually with red, tubular flowers - just make sure not to use pesticides around hummingbird plants. The garden can be supplemented with a feeder. Any feeder can attract hummers, so experts say the most important factor is to how easily they can be cleaned. Always avoid using soap when cleaning and instead use a vinegar solution.

Waggener recommends a basin-style feeder, which also has an ant-moat and bee guards to avoid attracting unwanted living creatures. As a rule of thumb you should leave the feeders out from April Fools to Halloween, Waggener says.


  • The water solution can be made by mixing one part sugar and four parts water.
  • It is recommended to boil the water to store it and help keep it from spoiling.
  • The water has to be changed every two-to-three days or before if it starts turning cloudy.