If you live in Missouri and have a hummingbird feeder, now is the time to put it out. Observers in Arkansas and Kansas report seeing ruby-throated hummingbirds already.
Lanny Chambers, of Fenton, Mo., maintains a website that encourages birdwatchers from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada to report their first hummingbird sightings each year.
Sighting reports are posted daily at www.hummingbirds.net, so anyone who visits the site can follow the progress of the annual rubythroat migration.
Chambers began keeping records in 1997. Missouri's first hummingbird reports in recent years have occurred in late March or early April.
This year, the tiny birds seem to be on their normal pace. As of March 20, ruby-throated hummingbirds had been sighted in north-central Arkansas and southeastern Kansas.
The Kansas sighting was well north of Missouri's southern border.
After crossing the Arkansas-Missouri border, hummingbirds take two to four weeks to reach the Iowa State Line.
The first Missouri sighting in 2007 came on March 22 in the Ozarks. The latest first arrival report came on April 25 in northwestern Missouri.
Hummingbirds move quickly after crossing Missouri.
Last year the birds arrived in central Canada in mid-May.
For information about ruby-throated hummingbirds and how to attract them to your home, visit www.mdc.mo.gov/8177.