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The Buzz

Migration Watch: Hummingbirds Have Landed in Northern Illinois

(Photo courtesy of Paul Dacko)

We've been eagerly watching the various migration maps, and we have some great news: Ruby-throated hummingbirds have arrived in northern Illinois.

There have been multiple sightings reported on both Journey North, a project run by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, as well as eBird. 

On Journey North, sightings have been reported in Manhattan and Orland Park, while eBird has a reported sighting in the Jackson Park area of Chicago. 

So if you haven't seen one yet, keep your eyes peeled. They'll soon be here in good numbers.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds will migrate all the way up into Canada, so even if you spot one locally, that doesn't mean that particular bird is going to be sticking around. It may just be making a pit stop.

If you haven't already, go ahead and get your hummingbird feeders out. 

"It is very important to keep the feeders clean and refilled with fresh mix," said Bob Bryerton, an interpretive naturalist at Plum Creek Nature Center. "In the cooler weather, you can do this every two or three days. If it warms up, it may need to be done daily. Feeders do not have to be filled to the top. The birds will not drain them quickly, so you just need to fill them enough to make sure the birds have access to the mix."

Making nectar is easy and all you need is sugar and water.

To cook up a batch, simply bring 1 cup of water to a boil and then add 1/4 cup of sugar, mixing it until the sugar is completely dissolved, the Audubon Society advises. You can make larger or smaller batches, sticking with the ratio of 4 parts water and 1 part sugar. Allow it to cool before adding it to your feeder.

Bryerton usually starts setting out the hummingbird feeders on April 15 because when those first ones arrive, they're going to be looking for food.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are more active early in the morning and late evening, so this is the best time to check your feeders for activity.


You can get involved

Becoming a citizen scientist and helping the folks at Journey North map the hummingbirds' progress is easy. 

Just sign up for an account and you're all set. It only takes a minute to share your sighting. The data, which is submitted by more than 60,000 registered users in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, is used to better understand migratory species.

Signing up for an account on eBird also is easy.


While you wait for their arrival ... 

Go ahead and enjoy these hummingbirds putting on a show last year at Plum Creek Nature Center. 


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