Friday, June 10, 2011

Where are all the Hummingbirds?

I usually see the first hummingbirds flying around my prairie by mid April. Actually, before I see the hummingbirds, I usually hear the rapid chirping sound one hummingbird makes as it chases another hummingbird away from the feeding area it has staked out for itself. But not this year. April went by without spotting or hearing any hummingbirds and then May. Nothing.

What could be wrong? My red yucca, Gregg salvia, and rock penstemon plants – all hummingbird favorites – are covered in blooms. Could the drought across Texas have forced the birds to take a different migratory path? I don’t know. I found this website that tracks the spring migration of the ruby-throated hummingbird and it looks similar to prior years. In fact, hummers were spotted in this area on March 17. Somehow I have missed them.

Earlier this week, I took this picture of Pale-leaf Yucca, Yucca pallida, surrounded by Rock Penstemon, Penstemon baccharifolius, and four nerve daisy, Tetraneuris scaposa. 

A few minutes later, I went inside and looked out the window. There, among those very Rock Penstemon flowers, was a ruby-throated hummingbird hovering around and sipping nectar. Finally.

I have not seen a hummingbird again this week, but I know that at least one of them found my prairie this year.

Click here to see a photo I took last year of a hummingbird feeding on Big Red Sage.


  1. Gorgeous prairie! I loved dipping into other posts. Nothing like a committed gardener to get the juices flowing.

    Re: hummers. Our numbers here in California were as usual. In fact, I was able to watch and blog about the Anna's hummingbirds who nested in my garden and raised two young. What an education.

    I love your blog and will not forget to visit often. You have captured the true spirit of a gardener.

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

    P.S. I found you through my friend Linda who channeled me to CTG's featured garden. I saw your comment and got curious. Glad I did.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Sharon. I am more of a committed gardener than a committed blogger. I think some of my neighbors just think I need to be committed for removing my lawn and planting a prairie in the middle of suburbia!

    Your photos of the Anna’s hummingbirds are great. How fortunate you are to have found the nest. Here is a direct link to the postings:

    I will be sure to check your blog again soon.

  3. Like Sharon, I saw your note on The Grackle's blog. So glad you like CTG! And I LOVE your garden. I will add to the CTG blogroll. Let's stay in touch for sure. On birds, one hummer came but I haven't seen much of him since. The goldfinches are still here, though, and they've never been in my east Austin garden this late. By the way, I grew up in Dallas, went to PHS, and I'm so excited to find a Plano blogger!

  4. Michael,

    I love that picture, just beautiful. I too have been wondering about the lack of hummingbirds. I was really hoping to see them early with all the Cedar Sage I have planted everywhere. All the same perennials you mentioned are also blooming in my new front yard, and nothing. That is, until this morning. I finally saw a female ruby throat feeding from the scarlet red Jacob Cline Mondarda out front. I hope I see more. P.S., you'll have to come by one "cooler" night, and see what your prairie partly has inspired.


  5. Linda, thanks for the comments. Once I discovered the Central Texas Gardener programs on the KLRU website and on You Tube, I was hooked and had to see them all. I even promoted CTG and the Wildflowers – Seeds of History production a few months ago.

    Curtis, I would like to see your creation sometime, but I want to see it before we have a cooler night. It probably will not be cool again until October! My big red sage started blooming in the last week. Maybe it will attract some more hummingbirds. The really liked it last year. Did yours survive?

  6. Good to know your hummers are back...and that photo is stunning. I actually haven't noticed the hummers as much this year so far (have only seen them a few times.) Last year, we had a mating pair and juvenile that entertained us all summer. Hopefully we get to see them again. I was pretty flattered the other day when chatting with a neighbor, they mentioned how before we moved in and started the garden, they never saw hummingbirds in the neighborhood...I don't think they realized how happy that made me!

  7. Hi Scott. That is quite a compliment from your neighbor. You know your hard work has paid off when both your neighbors and the wildlife appreciate your garden. Some of the neighborhood walkers have told me they enjoy walking past my house because of all of the butterflies.

  8. Well you've got an open invation, so e-mail me and come on over!

    My big red sage did survive and is looking great. It is just starting to form some buds, but I have mine in afternoon shade, and I think I remember yours being in full all day sun? I remember the hummers loved it though, so fingers crossed for the both of us.


  9. The hummingbirds are at my house in Euless this year. Every morning for at least a month, they've been visiting my autumn sage.

  10. Lisa, those sound like my hummingbirds. They must have got lost looking for my garden this year and decided to stay at your place. Could you please send them home now? Thanks.

  11. I found your blog through The Grackle as well. The power of the blog! I just saw my first hummer late last week too. I have no idea what the problem is, but I do bet it has something to do with the drought. Love your blog. LOVE your header photo!

  12. Hello Mamaholt. Thanks for the comments. I have been lurking in the shadows of the blogosphere and following the adventures of the Curious Holts ever since Pam at Digging mentioned your blog a year or so ago. There is always something fun and interesting going on at your place.

  13. Beautiful pictures! I believe your transformation project is a success. May the hummingbirds return!

  14. Thanks Dwight. I saw a hummingbird again this morning. Only the second sighting this year.

  15. I love your photo. The yucca adds great structure and lovely pale color amid your prairie flowers.

  16. Beautiful garden!

    We saw our first hummingbird over the weekend and were pretty excited. We've been planting what we can to make them happy, so hopefully we'll get more.

  17. Up here in the northern South (truly and agriculturally LOL) in the MO Ozarks- the hummers (ruby throats) are very scarce this year. I normally get the arriving males the last week of March- and then the females come around 7 days later. Each year (normally) by mid to late April, I can not keep 4 feeders filled I have so many...not 2011 though. I have only 2 or 2 pair and only using 2 feeders this year.
    I think all of the fires, tornadoes and crazy weather lured them off coarse...but do not know for sure. I do hope that MY hummers have at least survived migration and return back home for breeding in 2012 to me. Very nice photos of your suburbia prairie, beautiful...

  18. Hi
    I have been perusing your site for past month trying to adapt a Texas prairie to the conditions in Chicago, IL. My earlier attempts at creating a prairie garden created a jumble of plants this year--with the help of your site, I hope to do better in the spring.
    Steve Reardon

  19. Good luck with your prairie, Steve. Keep trying until you find the right combination of plants. From what I understand, you have a great prairie reference at the Lurie Garden at Millennium Park. I hope you find some helpful information on my blog. Many native TX prairie plants are also native IL prairie plants. But there are also TX plants that will not survive your winters and IL plants that will not survive our heat down here. Keep me posted on your progress.


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