Southwestern Birding-Hummingbirds return to New Mexico 2017

By Eileen Richardson

Now in early April may seem early, but it's not. Every year we can count on seeing the broad-tailed first in late March since they come from all over Mexico and in Central America. It stands to reason that hummingbirds don't all show up on the same day or even the same week. They are not all coming from the same spot. So it makes sense that hummers wintering in Southern Mexico will arrive in in our area later than those that winter hundreds of miles further north.

Some broad -tailed hummingbirds will stick around here in New Mexico to nest and some will continue on further north. Black-chinned Hummingbirds will begin to arrive in April and some of them will also decide to nest in our area. Black-chinned winter mostly in Western Mexico.

Watch and listen for the Broad-tailed Hummingbird. When they arrive you can hear them from 250 feet!

Both Broad-tailed and Black-chinned can enter torpor (a state of physical inactivity) on cold nights. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the resting heart rate of the Black-chinned Hummingbird is 480 beats per minute but in a state of torpor that can drop to between 45-180 beats per minute. Like the Black-chinned, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds can also slow their body functions (including body temperature) way down to better survive cold weather.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds can eat 3X's their body weight in nectar in one day when it's cold out. Natural nectar from flowers is in short supply this early in the season so be sure to get your feeders out soon. These early feeders can help hummingbirds that are unable to find enough natural food.

Hang a feeder where you can easily see it so you don't miss the show and be sure to keep your nectar fresh. Change it twice a week and don't use any red dye. A clear solution of one-part white table sugar to four parts boiled water is best. If you buy nectar, be sure it contains no dye. them. Keeping your feeder clean is very important as sugar water can mold and become toxic for birds.