BASICS: "Hummingbirds.....where is the person, I ask, who, on observing this glittering fragment of the rainbow, would not pause, admire, and turn his mind with reverence..." (J. J. Audubon).
This is a blog about my summer life at the Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary, at my winter garden, Calypso, in the Bahamas, and aspects of life in general.
This private sanctuary is now permanently closed to the general public, as a result of a lawsuit brought by a neighbor. Only my friends and personal guests may visit (

Saturday, April 25, 2015

recovering slowly; why do we have no hummers yet?

Another clip from last year, feeding at Salvia greggii (autumn sage).

Here's a reply I just wrote to a question from Mike, which might be of general interest. Note these are purely informed guesses.

"Mike, first bear in mind that Lanny Chambers' migration map (at you are seeing only the leading edge of the advancing wave - and the earliest hummers we see on LI (eg the april 11 sighting in Islip Terrace) are probably on their way further north. Getting technical, the advancing wave probably has a Gaussian (bell) shape, and because the east coast is densely populated, it can easily detect the low-probability leading edge. But the main peak probably occurs a couple of weeks later - i.e. TODAY! 
Second, the males arrive a week or 2 earlier than the females, and they will only settle in really good spots, which means lot of trees and above all lots of lichen on the trees. Availability of feeders and nectars is almost irrelevant. Where they come in is in picking up the southward migration, where the numbers are possibly double the northward one. But that will only start mid july, peaking perhaps late august/early sept.
Third, you are probably getting more visits than you realize: you cannot permanently watch both front and rear beds, and probably you don't even spend an hour per day watching. In Baiting Hollow even though I consistently have a resident male, I might only see him a couple of times a day, and very briefly, in june and early july. That's why I only open during august: most people would just get frustrated waiting in june. I'm lucky because I spend essentially the whole day, for many days at a stretch, working in the garden, or resting there, so get to catch these brief visits. In fact the adult male spends most of his time inspecting the entire 3.5 acres here, and is mostly inconspicuously perched somewhere. With a bit of luck I learn where some of these perches are, which increases my viewing opportunities - though he does change his favorite perches.
Fourth, there is indeed a lower density of hummers on the island as compared to the mainland, at least partly because there are fewer woods and more people and houses. The best area on the island seems to be Manorville and surrounds - lots of preserved land. 
All of this means that getting regular hummer visits is hard work here - but all the more satisfying when it works out. And consistency over many years with flowers and feeders also helps.
I predict that if you spend a good deal of time outside you will see one before midmay.
- Paul


  1. Thank You Paul for clarifying how the Hummers arrive .. I live just south of the LIE I am the third block left of South Street so techinically almost in Manorville and all the pines and heavily wooded areas that go with it. Techinically East Yaphank or North Shirley ( lol ) My very first spring in this house I saw a hummingbird in late April. I did not know then what i do now .. He flew up to a red bird house I had hanging on my porch ... NOW I have learned it was a male scouting locations. That year my husband and I planted several Butterfly bushes and they have multiplied through the years .. I did not sight one for several years after that ( I was far more interested in all the butterflies and dragonflies to take pictures of LOL ) about 4 summers ago in August I noticed my first real sighting in the top of a white butterfly bush and of course ran for my camera and got a few shaky shots .. I immediately hung up feeders and got several birds who were amusing to watch .. male and female they are so territorial ..Last year and the year before I put up feeders in early May and had a male and sometimes female hanging around for about a week and then they did dissapear ( I kept the feeders fresh this whole time ) they reappeared in August just as you said .. and I was in the yard enjoying every moment I could ... :) I learned this from you and experience .. I also have a house close by you in Riverhead and my daughter hung out a feeder in the summer and she would get some by her :) ... I have several friends IN Manorville that also hang feeders and get some in the august months ... SO I agree with the Manorville location being the best area.. those that know it understand that the amount of thick woods is plentiful and the solitude also is great .. there are vast areas that us humans do not step foot into LOL so it is a safe place for nesting and plenty of natural places to feed.

  2. Paul, thank you for the thoughtful reponse. Hope you are feeling better.

  3. Paul my name is Robyn and I am trying to make a reservation to visit the sanctuary this summer. Unfortunately I am having difficulty with your email address and would appreciate it if you can help me. Thank you.