The Hummingbirds Are Coming! Here’s How to See Them

We asked a local expert to tell us more about the hummingbird migration and for tips on seeing the tiny birds this season.

The world’s smallest bird will make its yearly migration from Mexico to U.S. in the coming weeks, according to Tim Vargo, manager of research and community science at the Urban Ecology Center. You could start spotting them in mid-April, at the soonest. 

“That can be the earliest they’ll show up, but usually the regular time to see them is in May,” Vargo says. 

Vargo says the ruby-throated hummingbirds – the species that will migrate to Wisconsin and its surroundings states – are attracted to tubular flowers, wild bergamot and native bee balm. He lists Prairie Nursery as one place to buy and learn about seed mixes that produce flowers that are attractive to hummingbirds and other pollinators, like bees.


 

 

 

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“[Hummingbirds] are mainly considered nectarivores,” he says. “They drink flower nectar, it’s where they get most of their nutrients from, and sometimes they’ll eat pollen as well.”

Other than planting flowers, Vargo says that the best way to catch a glimpse of a hummingbird it to put up a feeder in your backyard.

“Just make sure you don’t put dye in it,” Vargo warns. “There are plenty of resources in terms of the best recipes, and you want a 25% sugar content.”

The Smithsonian’s National and Conservation Biology Institute and The Spruce offer recipes that are four parts water and one part sugar, as Vargo suggests, and give step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the mixture.

The Urban Ecology Center’s three branches – Riverside Park, Menomonee Valley and Washington Park – offer free bird walks throughout the week from 8-10 a.m. for anyone who wants a chance to catch a glimpse of hummingbirds and other local species in the Milwaukee area.

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