During a normal year, April 15 is the dreaded date we associate with Tax Day. But it’s also an important date for another reason: It’s when hummingbirds typically return to the Front Range, plus or minus a few days.
Birders across the Front Range recommend preparing your hummingbird feeders now and hanging them by April 15 (or, a few days before if you’re eager!) to welcome the broad-tailed hummingbirds, who spent the winter enjoying much warmer climates to the south.
These tiny, bedazzled, long-beaked birds will visit your feeders and the flowers in your yard for nectar, the sticky-sweet solution that keeps them flitting through the air at lightning-fast speeds.
Where to Find Feeders
Hummingbird feeders are typically transparent with red accents, or red all over. They’re often made of plastic or glass and feature a bottle-shaped top attached to a shallow container with holes. You can find hummingbird feeders at many home and garden stores, including McGuckin Hardware.
You can often find them at thrift shops (just clean them thoroughly and they’re good as new!) or make your own. There are tons of handy tutorials online that show how to use recycled materials, like this one, which uses a plastic water bottle and a plastic container.
How to Make Nectar
If you’ve never put up a hummingbird feeder before, you might be tempted to buy a bottle of bright-red hummingbird nectar from the store. But it’s incredibly easy to make nectar at home, and experts say there’s really no reason to use red dye in hummingbird food (in fact, it may even be harmful to the birds).
To make your own hummingbird nectar at home, combine four parts water with one part white sugar. Stir or shake to combine thoroughly, then fill your feeders. You can store extra nectar in the refrigerator for a week or two.
Remember to change out the nectar in your feeders (and clean them thoroughly!) every two or three days, particularly when the temperatures start to climb. This helps keep the birds safe from disease, mold and other bad actors.
What to Know About Hummingbirds
Along the Front Range, the most common hummingbird is the broad-tailed hummingbird. Males have a bright magenta patch on their neck/chest, with shimmery green and brown feathers on their backs. Females are green, without the magenta throat patch.
We also see other types of hummingbirds in Colorado, including black-chinned hummingbirds, rufous hummingbirds and calliope hummingbirds. To help you identify the hummingbird you see in your backyard, consider buying a bird field guide book from Boulder Book Store or downloading a helpful mobile app like Merlin Bird ID to your phone.