As the spring season kicks off in North Texas, so too does the return of hummingbirds.
Most hummingbirds spend their winters in Central America or Mexico and travel north to the southern United States to breed and nest as early as February.
Brett Johnson, an urban biologist with the city of Dallas, told The Dallas Morning News (DMN) that North Texans are most likely to see hummingbirds between mid-March and mid-April.
Most of the hummingbirds spotted in the region so far this season have been either ruby-throated or black-chinned hummingbirds, as this interactive map from Hummingbird Central shows.
During migration, a hummingbird flaps its wings approximately 15 to 80 times a second and can travel up to 23 miles in just one day. This requires a great deal of energy, meaning it will have to chow down on nectar and gain between 25% to 40% of its body weight before making the long trek.
They also fly by day and fly low to spot food along the way, which is why the best way to spot hummingbirds is to set up a hummingbird feeder in your yard.
At the same time, hummingbirds have a discerning palate when it comes to their food sources, Johnson told DMN.
Hummingbirds are attracted to feeders filled with a clear sugar-water mixture (usually one part sugar and four parts water). Commercial nectar or anything containing red dye is not recommended.
Avoid causing any harm by keeping your feeder clean. Scrub it out every few days and change the mixture if it gets cloudy. However, make sure to only use hot water because cleaning products might be toxic to the hummingbird.
Johnson also told DMN that bringing feeders in at night is a good idea. Hummingbirds eat during the day, and you would not want to attract the wrong kind of critters, like raccoons or ants.
Since hummingbirds play a crucial role in the ecosystem as pollinators, filling your yard with native plants (Turk’s cap or red yucca, for instance) — will reel them in and make for a more easily sustainable garden.
They are drawn to vibrant, eye-catching flowers, Johnson told DMN, especially those that are red, yellow, orange, and white. As such, hummingbirds often favor honeysuckles, pentas, lantanas, butterfly bushes, and golden columbines.
If you do not have a backyard or feeder, don’t worry — you can still enjoy the beauty of hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds are also drawn to wildflower fields, which are good places to spot them. This year’s wildflower season is supposed to be spectacular in Texas, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
In between meals, you might spot them relaxing in the safety of lush trees and large shrubs, per Hummingbird Central. When the temperature rises, hummingbirds might also be found cooling off in some shallow water.
As these tiny, fast-flying birds follow their annual migratory pattern, they will bring beauty and wonder to the North Texas region for a limited time — don’t miss them!