After studying hummingbirds for several decades, I have concluded that it is impossible to predict the exact date hummingbirds will return to Monroe County each spring. In fact, rarely do these flying jewels appear at our feeders on the same date two years in a row.This year proved to be no exception.
Based on more than a dozen reports I have received from hummingbird fans across the county, as this issue of The Reporter goes to press, March 12 was the date the f irst hummingbird began feeding at a Monroe County hummingbird feeder in 2021. Dan Jeffers saw this hungry migrant at 6:10 p.m.
Just to illustrate my contention that more often than not the birds do not make their appearance on the same day two years in a row, in 2020 Monroe County’s first rubythroat was spotted by Judith Geib on March 14.
Two ruby-throated hummingbirds were seen for the first time by two Monroe Countians (Carolyn Perkins and Dottie Henderson) on March 13. Carolyn took a picture of her first bird feeding at a feeder hung outside her kitchen window.
In her email, she went on to say, “She is realizing she spends entirely too much time in kitchen; however, finally seeing her first hummer of the year made it all worthwhile.” (I am certain a lot of us also feel that time spent watching for hummingbirds is time well spent.)
Dottie Henderson reported that after reading my column dealing with the anticipated arrival of hummingbirds in the Monroe County Reporter, she put up seven feeders. She was rewarded for her efforts with seeing a bird on March 13, also.
Three hummingbirds were also sighted March 15. The rubythroats were reported by Judith Geib, Bob Garza, and Beth Singletary. Beth mentioned in her report that she enjoyed the unique experience of watching American robins feed on bright red holly berries while her first ruby-throated hummingbird of 2021 drank nectar from her feeder.
Pat Purser wrote that, “She was so happy,” to see her first rubythroat March 16.
Linda Padgett’s email stated the March 16 sighting of a hummingbird at her feeder broke her previous personal early hummingbird arrival date. Linda also mentioned that she looks for my annual reminder that rubythroats are on the way to Monroe County before putting up her feeder each March.
Beverly Castleberry, Debbie Menard, and Bob Hurley all saw their first rubythroats March 18.
Last year my wife and I spotted our first hummingbird April 1. This year we saw our first over a week earlier, on March 22.
As the paper went to press, I have received only three reports of a hummingbird being seen this year outside of Monroe County. Although the sample size is small, it gives us an insight into how the arrival dates elsewhere in the state compare to those in Monroe County. Bill and Eloise Doty saw their first hummingbird of 2021 at their Taylor County home March 12. Ron Lee of Henry County sighted his first male hummer in his backyard on March 20. Grant Evans, who lives just north of Rome, spotted his first male ruby-throated hummingbird of the year on March 28.
Currently, it appears that Carolyn Perkins’ record of seeing a hummingbird March 9, 2019 will remain the earliest date that a ruby-throated hummingbird has ever been seen in Monroe County. Meanwhile, although it is rare for a ruby-throated hummingbird to arrive locally on the same date in consecutive years, it is also true the first birds of the year annually are typically seen in this neck of the woods during the second and third weeks of March. It’s time to put up feeders!
Terry Johnson is retired Program Manager of the Georgia Nongame-Endangered Wildlife Program. He has written the informative column ‘Monroe Outdoors’ for the Reporter for many years. His book, “A Journey to Discovery,” is available at The Reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.