When to put out hummer and oriole feeders

One of the spring FAQs at the Minnetonka store is “When should I put out the hummingbird and oriole feeders?”

Folks look a little surprised when I answer “April 26th.” After backyard bird feeding in the same location for a couple decades and recording the first oriole sighting of the year, orioles typically arrive in my yard two days either side of April 28th. I don’t want to miss them so I put out oriole and hummingbird feeders at the same time on the 26th.

Last year there were storms in the middle part of the USA during migration and birds had to hunker down and ride out the weather. That year orioles arrived closer to Mother’s Day but stayed in my yard two weeks longer than usual, remaining until mid-September.

Most nesting birds evade predators by hopscotching through the yard, returning to the nest site in a circuitous pattern. Hummingbirds are so fast they just fly from food source to nest and are able to feed closer to their nesting site. Hummingbirds prefer to place their nest on a horizontal branch with a bit of an upward or downward slope to provide for water run-off. If the branches of your trees are mostly vertical you may not see as many hummingbirds while they have young in the nest. My yard hosts lots of hummers in May and then again in August into October but I don’t have a lot of action during June and July.

Every backyard is a little different and the bird watching experience is somewhat unique to each location. That’s part of what makes bird watching so interesting!