I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying the antics of hummingbirds. A bird family with over 320 different species, they are mostly concentrated in South America. Lucky for North Americans however is that there are 16 species that breed north of Mexico. The three most common species found in the United States and Canada are:
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird - concentrated in the eastern regions and prefers pink or red flowers. They are attracted by sugar water feeders and migrate from southern Canada to Panama.
Anna’s Hummingbird - Resides permanently in the south west United States. Attracted to gardens growing fuchsia, coral bells and sage.
Rufous Hummingbird - Mostly found in the north west corner of the United States and south west corner of Canada during migration. Breeds as far north as south Alaska and winters in Mexico. Attracted to gardens with flowers and feeders. Like to bathe in a fine spray of water.
All three of these species have mainly green feathers, even the throat area of the ruby throat male. It is the reflection of the sunlight on his feathers that make them appear r a glowing ruby red. In the shade his throat returns to green.
The average hummingbird is only 31/2 inches long and weighs about 1/9 ounce yet are extremely strong. Migration flights can take several weeks or months and cover thousands of miles. In preparation for the long trip the hummingbird increases it’s body weight by 50When not migrating they require large quantities of food to fuel their rapid wing movement of 75 times per second. They are really little flying miracles!
Gardeners can be a great help to these charming fliers. Hummingbirds eat flower nectar and small insects.They especially like tubular flowers in bright red, pink and orange so fill your garden with annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees. Plant your garden in clusters of flowers rather then randomly and plant flowering vines on a trellis. Your plantings will also attract a host of small insects for the hummingbirds to round out their diet.
Hummingbirds will also visit special feeders supplied with sugar water. Easily bought at many stores they are often made of bright red plastic. The best mix is 1 part white sugar to 4 parts boiled water which will dissolve the sugar. Let cool before filling the feeder and hang somewhere close to your house where you can watch. Every 5 days the feeders should be emptied and cleaned with hot water and a touch of vinegar to prevent molds. Rinse thoroughly before refilling. If your feeder is not red, tie a red ribbon on it.
Never use honey solutions which might encourage a fungus that infects the birds tongues and never add red food coloring. Your sugar solution will also attract ants ands wasps. To discourage these pests place a little vegetable oil or petroleum jelly around the feeder openings. Never use insecticides or pesticides in your gardening care. Also, more is not better, a higher solution of sugar is actually harmful to the birds.
Supply water for your hummingbirds as a fine mist. They love it!
Flowers to Plant
Trumpet Vine / Bee balm / Red Columbine / Delphinium / Hollyhock / Butterfly Bush / Rose of Sharon / Lantana / Fuchsia / Trumpet Honeysuckle / carpet Bugle / Petunias / Salvia / Impatiens / Coral Bells
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