Its that time of the year again. You know, when the air smells damp and slightly sweet. The sun's rays feel that much warmer when it peeks between rain showers in early April.
If you've had time to take a look around recently, you probably noticed that things are beginning to look a lot more green. And its not just your lawn. There's green returning to the forest.
It comes in various shades. Some of it is light green, like the leaves of skunk cabbage unfurling in our area's swamps and wetlands. And some of it is dark green, like the refreshing, new carpets of moss who thrive in this cool damp climate of spring.
But another shade of green is soon to make it to our area (sometimes accompanied by a tinge of red).
Its the Ruby-throated hummingbird of course. Despite is miniature size, this bundle of energy known as a bird is making its way back to our area from its wintering grounds. Central America is where these flying jewels have spent their winter. But now that spring has arrived in the States, the hummers are headed north.
The map above is from Hummingbirds.net. The sightings are submitted to the site owner who then pinpoints the location and generates this migration map each spring. Looking closely, you'll notice that hummingbirds have been reported in various locations around (but not yet in) southern NY, which means any of us in the Hudson Valley region could be spotting our first hummingbird of the year in a matter of days.
Want to be the first person in your area to see a hummingbird this spring? Well, you'll have to get your hummingbird feeders dusted off and fill up with nectar. Flowers are in short supply at this time of year, so a full hummingbird feeder is likely to keep a hummer's company until the flowers really begin to bloom later in the spring. Hummingbirds also visit sap wells drilled into maple, birch, and tulip trees by Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Knowing where these fresh sap wells are located in your area (should you have a sapsucker around) would be a great advantage to being the first to spot a hummingbird as well.
For a little more about our area's Ruby-throated hummingbirds, check out these past blog posts about attracting hummingbirds and a hummingbird's nest.
-Adam Zorn, Naturalist