Canaan, N.Y. — If ever we could use a glimpse of miraculous beauty right outside our windows, it is now. And the timing is perfect, because ruby-throated hummingbirds have returned to the Northeast after spending the winter in locations as far south as Costa Rica and making an incredible 20-hour nonstop flight across the Gulf of Mexico. (This 500-mile journey shouldn’t even be possible, but the tiny birds manage it by first consuming enough food to double their fat mass.)
Looking like something out of the Annals of Cryptozoology, the hummingbird is such an amazing creature that no matter how long you observe one, it’s still hard to believe your eyes. Their ability to fly backward and upside-down at the same time puts these birds in a class apart from all other avian species. But it’s not only their aeronautical prowess that makes them famous. It’s also their well-known iridescence, a trait that males use to notify other males of their need to immediately vacate the area.
To see hummingbirds every day for four months, all you have to do is put out a hanging bottle of sugar water (the red coloring is optional) and wait a few days. Most garden centers and hardware stores sell both the feeders and the food.
The birds are already in the area, but you still have time to deploy your feeders. Do it. It will make you happy.
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Practically everything you need to know about this year’s hummingbird migration can be found here.