Hummingbirds are nature’s delightful dynamos. I enjoy watching these tiny little birds as they return to my yard each spring. Hummingbirds are found only in the Americas including the Caribbean but they do span this territory from southern Alaska to the Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. Most species are found in Central and South America. However, Anna’s Hummingbird lives year round in the Pacific coastal areas. The Ruby Throated Hummingbird migrates each spring. It flies non stop across the Gulf of Mexico to begin its northern migration through the eastern United States and into Canada. The Black Chinned Hummingbird is the most widespread species in the western United States and Rufous Hummingbird is the most commonly found hummingbird in western Canada. There are over 300 species of hummingbirds in the world.
ATTRACTING HUMMINGBIRDS TO YOUR YARD:
Food: Hummingbirds eat the nectar of flowers or sugar water to provide them with the energy to maintain their very high metabolic rate. For protein and other nutrients they eat soft bodied insects and spiders. When selecting a hummingbird feeder it should be easy to disassemble and clean because hummingbirds will not eat sour sugar water / nectar. The feeder should be rinsed thoroughly with hot water each time you refill it and once a month clean the feeder with a solution of 1/4 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water. Allow the feeder to soak for 1 hour and then rinse completely and refill. In general, the sugar water will last no longer than 4 days in a feeder before it must be replaced.
Feeders should also have perches.
While it is fun to watch the hummingbirds hover; hovering uses a great deal of energy – something hummingbirds simply cannot waste. Perches allow them to rest and they will stay around longer to feed.
A built-in ant moat on your feeder will help you control the ants who will find your feeder. Fill the ant moat only with water as some small birds such as chickadees will drink from an ant moat.
There is no need to purchase special hummingbird nectar mix. Mix 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water, heat until the sugar is dissolved, cool and pour into the feeder. Use only white cane sugar because other sugars can cause harm to the hummingbirds. Do not add any red coloring to the sugar water; it may cause harm to hummingbirds.
You may also plant deep throated flowers, especially in colors of red. It is always such a pleasure to sit in my sunroom and watch the hummingbirds enjoy the angel winged begonias outside the windows.
Water: Hummingbirds need to bathe regularly because the sticky flower nectar or sugar water makes it difficult to preen their feathers. They like a very shallow bird bath with flowing water or a fountain with an upward spray. The hummingbirds will gently edge in and out of the spray. Once I was watering some plants and a hummer darted in and out of the mist. I almost drowned the plant because I was so entranced with the hummingbird.
Hummingbirds are very entertaining and a great addition to any garden. Treat them right and they will be around for a long time. Hummingbirds frequently return to the same place that they found food last year. Give them fresh nectar, attractive flowers and water sprays and you will have hummingbirds year after year.