Hummingbird aerobatics and beauty fascinate birders along the North American migration flyway from late spring to early fall each year. To ensure your yard is a popular stop, provide colorful sources of fresh nectar, slender perches with a view and a cool mist on the hottest days. They'll appreciate your efforts this year and for years to come. Here's how:
Vivid red, orange, yellow and blue flowers attract hummingbirds, so one of the most important features of your hummingbird (and butterfly and bee) garden is a combination of nectar-rich plants that will bloom at different times throughout the growing season. Select plants with tubular flowers that accommodate the birds but limit insects' access to the nectar inside, says The Hummingbird Society.
Find a list of flowers, succulents, shrubs and other plants suited for various regions on the society's website. A few popular choices include bee balm, columbine, fuchsia, honeysuckle and sage (a blue salvia). For more information, visit The Old Farmer's Almanac and other online sources.
To supplement your blooming landscape, offer fresh nectar in clean, colorful feeders. They are widely available in glass or plastic with features designed to make eating easy for the birds, access difficult for ants and bees, and cleaning easy for you. Either offer dye-free commercial nectar or make your own with this simple, commonly used recipe.
2 cups water
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
Pour water in a saucepan, and add granulated sugar (1 part sugar to 4 parts water). Stir well. Bring mixture to a boil, and cook for 1 minute. Cool and serve.
In warm weather, change the nectar mix every few days, cleaning the feeder thoroughly each time. Nectar spoils quickly in hot weather and should be changed every couple of days.
Finally, avoid insect sprays. Hummingbirds can help control your insect population and will benefit from the protein.
*Places to Perch and Nest
Hummingbirds' tiny feet need thin perches, such as twigs, wires or clotheslines. Place feeders near trees and shrubs as cover from predators and lookouts for any territorial hummers. Trees also provide safe haven for young hummingbird families living in their tiny cup-shaped nests of plant materials, spider silk, natural cotton fibers and animal fur, says Melissa Mayntz at The Spruce.
Shallow pools, such as plant saucers and conventional birdbaths partially filled with small pebbles, provide useful bathing and drinking. Clean and refill them daily to maintain freshness.
Moving water with a drip, gentle fountain or ripple feature attracts hummingbirds and discourages mosquito breeding. On hot days, hummingbirds also enjoy flying through a mist sprayer.
*Your Lovely Garden
While creating a welcoming hummingbird habitat, whether landscaping a yard or simply planting a container garden on the balcony, add a combination of flowering baskets, a colorful banner or even a bright ribbon or two to attract passing hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. Once they've found you, they'll be back.
These fast-fluttering friends are a delight to have whizzing around. With a little careful setup and maintenance, your backyard can become a growing wildlife habitat.