In this article, we will describe how to lure hummingbirds to your garden.
Why We Like Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds have been a sensation to us humans for a very long time. For example, back in the day, Aztecs commonly decorated their ceremonial cloaks with hummingbird plumage. Ancient Mexicans believe that warriors when they die in battle transformed into hummingbirds. Why do they capture our imaginations?
First, they are tiny. They are also valiant, fearlessly facing threats from far bigger creatures. They fly with an acrobatic style, swiftly darting from place to place and feed on flower nectar. The Portuguese call them “flower kissers.” Moreover, their wings really do hum, giving them their name.
When we encounter them, we just have to stop and watch.
Once they are acquainted to a garden, they will return there year, after year.
Gardens that include open spaces lure hummingbirds because they can move freely from one source of nectar to another. A yard that is one-fourth shaded, one-fourth partially shaded, and half in open sunlight appears to be just the environment they seek. No wonder when you discover that most of the flowers they favor grow in full sunlight.
Curved flowerbeds and garden borders permit hummingbirds to approach blooms from all directions. Situating your flowers with the shorter ones in front and the taller ones in back offer hummingbirds access to their favored plants.
Hummingbirds actually spend most of a day quietly perched on trees or shrubs. However, to maintain their high metabolism –- they have the highest of any warm-blooded animal except shrews –- they must feed every 10 to 15-minutes. It is not uncommon for one hummingbird to visit hundreds of flowers searching for food in a day.
It is therefore most important to provide places for hummingbirds to perch. Males perch almost anywhere in the open including on twigs, clotheslines, and overhead wires. Female and immature hummers prefer to be hidden among trees, shrubs, and vines.
At night, they can’t feed and there are times when they’re stressed. In these circumstances they slow their body functions and heartbeat from as much as 1,260 beats per minute to 50 beats per minute.
The Best Plants For Attracting Hummingbirds
The flowers that hummingbirds favor has evolved at the same time as these birds and have specific features that prevent access by other birds. They like tubular and scentless flowers with bright red, orange or blue color and grow in areas where the birds can hover and sip. Many of these flowers are shaped to assist the bills of the birds to get to the nectar.
To attract these birds and to keep them coming back, it is suggested that your garden host a wide variety of plants over the longest possible season.
Migrating hummingbirds search for flowers that open in spring and late summer. Year round bloom is ideal for mild-winter regions of the west and along the Gulf coast where many species of hummingbird stay during the winter.
Flowers hummingbirds favor include:
- Bee Balm
- Red-Hot Poker
Shrubs they like include:
- Butterfly Bush
- Rose of Sharon
Vines they favor include:
- Cardinal Vine
- Trumpet Vine
Include A Hummingbird Feeder
It will also help to include a hummingbird feeder. The feeder should contain a mixture that is mimics flower nectar. The best appears 4 parts water to one part sugar.
Mix the ingredients and boil for two minutes to remove impurities. Leave it alone to cool and then place in the feeder. Store extra solution in the freezer. When you need more, just take out of freezer and thaw.
Don’t substitute honey for sugar because the honey will spoil quickly and may contain bacteria that can cause a fatal fungal disease.
Clean the feeder at least once every three days in hot weather or once a week in cool weather to prevent bacteria from building up. Compost left over food and then rinse the feeder with water. If you notice mold, include a little vinegar and grains of uncooked rice to the water and shake vigorously to dislodge it. Remove the vinegar and rice and rinse the feeder carefully with clean, warm water. If dark spots remain, scrub them off with a toothbrush or bottlebrush.
If these little critters stop visiting the feeder, then it’s possible that the sugar solution has spoiled. Clean the feeder carefully, refill with the solution and offer it again.