If you haven’t already, now is the time to hang those hummingbird feeders. Hummingbirds are one of the most sought after birds in Oklahoma during the spring and summer months. Hummers are seen beginning in early April, and you can help the Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Diversity Program monitor populations this year by participating in the 2012 Hummingbird Survey.

Hummingbirds are one of the most enjoyable birds to watch because they fly backwards and upside down while their wings pump 70 times per second. The most common species seen is the ruby-throated hummingbird, but eastern Oklahomans may also spot the black-chinned hummingbird.

“It’s fairly simple to attract hummers to your backyard,” said Rachel Bradley, wildlife diversity specialist for the Wildlife Department. “Hummingbirds take to sugar water mixtures (one part sugar to four parts water) in a hummingbird feeder and bright, tubular plants such as trumpet creeper vines and petunias.”

Hummingbirds are also attracted bee balm, salvia, trumpet creeper vines, lobelia, phlox, four-o-clocks and penstemons. Hummingbirds feed by sight rather than smell and often visit plants with vibrant colors and tubular shapes.

“As long as your hummingbird feeder has red on it, it is not necessary to use red food coloring in the sugar water mixture,” said Mark Howery, wildlife diversity biologist for the Wildlife Department. “Be sure to clean the feeders about every five days in cool weather and every two or three days in warm weather to ensure they don’t become contaminated with yeast and bacteria.”

Hummingbird feeders should be placed outside in early April. Visit wildlifedepartment.com’s Wildlife and Land Management Citizen Scientist page to download the Wildlife Department’s Hummingbird Survey complete with instructions.

This citizen scientist survey is a project of the Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Diversity Program. The Wildlife Diversity Program is committed to species that are not hunted or fished. For more information, visit wildlifedepartment.com.

Photo: alana sise

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