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Ask the Expert - Have hummingbirds returned?

Rob Zimmer
Feeding hummingbirds is a time-honored garden activity. Watch males stake out territory and defend it with aerial acrobatics. Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird (archilochus colubris) in flight with a green background

Q: Have hummingbirds returned to Wisconsin?

A: Still a bit early, however, I did see a report of a hummingbird spotted in Madison this week. It's time to get those feeders ready for early arriving hummers!

Q: What are the bright blue flowers I'm seeing in lawns and under trees?

A: There are many bright blue spring flowers, however, it is likely that you are seeing Siberian squill, which is often used to naturalize in lawns and under trees for a rich carpet of bright blue color. Unlike crocuses, squill is quite aggressive and many gardening groups are advising against planting it for that reason, especially if you live near native habitat such as woodlands. The bulbs quickly form a dense mat, smothering native wildflowers from blooming.

Q: What can I plant outdoors now?

A: For ornamentals, things such as pansies, violas and primroses can be planted outdoors. Early-season crops such as hardy greens and root crops can also be planted now. Be prepared to cover or bring indoors in case of cold snaps, which can occur through at least the middle of May.

Q: When should I place my oriole and hummingbird feeders outside?

A: Mine are already out. Orioles and hummingbirds have already been reported in parts of the state and will become more numerous in the next few weeks.