2015-05-08 / Community

Hummingbirds set to return

Backyard bird feeding enthusiasts are very excited because hummingbirds are due to arrive soon. These miniature marvels have been migrating between north and central America for thousands of years, a round trip in which millions of hummingbirds instinctively participate.

“Tracking bird species is an ongoing project of ours, and one of our more popular maps is the Hummingbird Map,” said Laura Turner, owner of the South Portland Wild Birds Unlimited.

For many that anxiously await their return in and around the greater Portland area, Mother’s Day marks the day of their arrival. Migrating on daylight hours, the birds return to their nesting sites almost to the day year after year.

For the next few months, area backyards will play host to these food-frenzied birds. Hummingbirds possess the fastest metabolism of any animal on the planet, burning between one to two times their body weight in food every day.

Despite popular belief, hummingbirds do not suck up nectar with their bills. They actually lap it up with their tongues, drawing nectar from its source up and into their mouths almost 12 times a second. The proper nectar ratio to serve is four parts water and one part sugar. More sugar may cause complications to the birds and is not recommended. Boiling the water helps keep to keep the nectar solution fresher longer, and unused portions can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

Hummingbirds will head back to Mexico and Central America in late summer, early fall.

“Before you know it, they will be headed south again,” Turner said. “But we don’t want to even talk about that just yet.”

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