RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas — Chances are if you have a hummingbird feeder in your yard this time of year then there may not be any vacancies at the perches.
It is the peak of hummingbird migration throughout South Texas, and feeders are being swarmed by the world’s smallest migrating birds.
At some three inches in length and weighing approximately three grams, almost the exact weight of a penny, these migratory marvels may travel more than 2,000 miles on each leg of their spring and fall migration.
Every fall, thousands of hummingbirds migrate through the Rio Grande Valley on their way south for winter. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the most abundant, and while the majority seems to be females and first year birds you occasionally glimpse the distinctive red gorget or throat patch of a mature male.
Joining abundant ruby-throats at the feeder is an occasional rufous hummingbird. Rufous hummingbirds migrate farther than any other hummingbird species, traveling some 3,000 miles from their nesting grounds in Canada and Alaska to the tropics of Mexico.
Southernmost Texas is the most important migratory corridor in North America with literally hundreds of millions of birds funneling thru the area in spring and fall.
Joining throngs of early migrating hummingbirds are myriad colorful songbirds like this resplendent summer tanager and incomparable painted bunting.
Fall migration south does not feature the frenzied urgency of spring migration to breeding grounds, as males rush to acquire and defend nesting territory ahead of rivals.
While fall migration is a more leisurely passage thru the Valley, the duration of avian visits depends on availability of food and shelter.
If you keep that hummingbird feeder full and fresh chances are good you will enjoy the prolonged presence of these migratory marvels before they wing it south for winter.