Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Hummers are Back in Town: Time to get the feeders up and running!

Young male bird

Getting nectar from trumpet creeper

Male at a feeder

A hummingbird nest

Normally, the ruby-throated hummingbird arrives in Kentucky in mid-April at the peak of the spring wildflower season.  This year, with its exceptional warmth, has been interesting to say the least.  The latest information shows that the first hummingbirds arrived back in Kentucky on March 19 and 20, primarily in the far western part of the state.  However, the maps also show that the birds have arrived in Canada. The other thing you will notice from the maps is a general lack of sightings from Central Kentucky.  This is because a few years ago we had a major storm event during migration and many birds were blown off course to the west and our populations have not yet rebounded.  Finally you can see on the map how there are more sightings from western Kentucky into Missouri and Illinois.  So, now is the time to get the feeder out of the closet, get it cleaned and disinfected, and get it outside and ready for use.  Remember, hummingbirds are highly territorial and so if you get a male defending a particular feeder, set up another feeder at least 15' from the first one and out of view, which may help you attract more birds to your yard.  One of the really interesting things about ruby-throated hummingbirds is that they arrive back here in the nesting grounds from the tropics just as their nectar sources come into flower.  So if you are a gardener, try putting out some early hummingbird attracting flowers like columbine, fire pink, phlox (numerous early spring species), and Carolina wild pink (see an earlier posting for this plant, Silene carolinianum).  If you are more inclined to use shrubs try our native azaleas and rhododendrons (See an earlier post for these as well), dwarf red buckeye, or the climbing vine, trumpet honeysuckle.  Later spring flowering species to consider are the beard tongues, Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica), and some additional phlox species.  Then summer hits and you get all these wonderful nectar plants like trumpet creeper, royal catchfly, cardinal flower, etc.  When planning to attract hummingbirds remember the birds do not live on sugar water alone, they also need protein (for nesting, egg laying, etc.) and so you will need flowers that attract gnats and other small insects.  For more information on attracting hummingbirds to the yard you can download the following publication from the University of Kentucky:

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