My sister put it bluntly a couple of weeks ago: “Wake up! Spring is here! Your most recent post is titled ‘Putting the Garden to Bed’!” I admit to being a bit of a Rip Van Winkle, and I promise to eventually finish what I started last Fall about various methods overwintering plants, but there are more pressing things now in the garden. Spring is insanely busy if you are a gardener in the Upper Midwest, especially if you propagate your own plants. So many seeds to sow, cuttings to take care of, seedlings to nurse along. When the weather outside allows, one gets work done preparing beds for planting and digging new ones. Fortunately, our March temperatures here were much more like May’s, and it was dry enough to work the beds outside. I was able to get a lot done–I even planted some perennials. I am much further along than I usually am at this time of year.
Despite the weather being ahead of schedule, the hummers were behind, at least in my yard. I had my feeders out a month ago, waiting for what I was sure would be my first April hummingbird. I’ve had hummers as early as May 1st, and they always arrive by the time the first week of May is over, but April hummingbirds have eluded me. Every April 30th, I have a vigil after dinner at the feeders, hoping to spot a hummer in the gradually fading light at end of the month. I have always watched and waited in vain. Once after such a vigil, I woke up early the first morning in May to eat breakfast before work. As I ate my oatmeal and idly gazed out the dining room window, a hummer arrived for his breakfast at the feeders. What was frustrating about seeing the hummingbird so early in the morning on the first day of May was realizing that he must have arrived here by the last day of April, since hummingbirds migrate by day, unlike many other migratory birds!
This year’s vigil yielded the same disappointing results of previous years, despite our record early Spring. I was so certain that this would be the year! May 1st came and went. May 2nd, still no hummers. This morning, still no activity.
After arriving home from work, I went out to putter in the garden and greet any new arrivals. I thought I heard a hummingbird chittering in the front yard, but no sightings. After dinner, I went back outside–surely, there must be hummers out there. Over the course of the week in and about town, I’d seen and heard the first Baltimore Orioles and Yellow Warblers of the year, surely the hummers must have arrived, too. While weeding a bed, it happened–a quick fly-by, but was it a hummer? I was able to confirm it before it was out of sight, but it was frustrating to not get a long look at it. Then, within another few minutes, a male arrived to perch on a bare tree branch within view of the feeders–at last, a good view! Then, before another minute went by, a female arrived at one of the feeders and took a long drink, thankfully unmolested by the male perched within view. Finally, after seven long months, hummer season is here again!