WILDLIFE WATCHING -- Hummingbirds have been known to begin trickling into the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area as mid-April.
If you're gearing up to feed the hummers this season, the Audubon Society, American Bird Conservancy and Cornell Lab of Ornithology offer this advice:
Maintaining a backyard hummingbird feeder can help provide the birds with nectar critical to their survival, especially in early spring when natural food can be in short supply, and during fall when they need to double their body mass before migration.
To ensure your yard is a safe and nutritious stopover for hummingbirds:
- Fill the feeders with sugar water, made by combining four parts hot water to one part white sugar, boiled for one to two minutes. NEVER use honey, which promotes the growth of harmful bacteria, or artificial sweeteners, which have no nutritional value. Also avoid red food coloring.
- Clean the feeders with a solution of one part white vinegar to four parts water about once a week. If your feeder has become dirty, try adding some grains of dry rice to the vinegar solution and shake vigorously. The grains act as a good abrasive. Rinse your feeder well with warm water three times before refilling with sugar solution.