A tiny hummingbird, like most pollinators, is the secret to a productive garden. These energetic yet tiny birds are more than just a sight to behold as they dash through your garden. They also play a crucial role in pollinating flowers, vegetables, and fruits resulting in more yield every season.
Today, we’ll be talking about hummingbirds and how you can attract them to your garden.
Let’s get started!
Hummingbirds at a Glance
Hummingbirds are small beautiful birds that migrate and are native to South America and North America. These little guys can be found in different habitats including temperate, alpine, tropical, and subtropical climates.
Hummingbirds can only be found in the Western Hemisphere, with the majority of hummingbird species found in South and Central America. They visit the United States in the early spring and summer, where they feed in preparation for their long journey to the south to Central Mexico.
In general, these little birds grow between 3 to five inches in length with a body weight of around 4 grams or about the weight of a US penny. They have narrow, long beaks that are perfect for extracting fresh nectar from flowers.
They also have iridescent feathers that come in a wide range of different colors including, brown, blue, green, purple, red, and pink.
Some tropical species of hummingbirds are in danger due to habitat loss, which are also affecting other pollinating species.
Female hummingbirds, like a lot of other bird species, are dull or brown in color. The male that shows off the pretty bright colors as they strut their stuff through your hummingbird garden.
There are more than 300 different species of hummingbirds, such as:
- Rufous hummingbird
- Giant hummingbird
- Calliope hummingbird
- Anna’s hummingbird
- Bee hummingbird of Cuba: The smallest hummingbird – they are world’s smallest birds native to Cuba
- Male ruby-throated hummingbird
- American hummingbird
- Costa’s hummingbird
Hummingbird Wing Speed
Hummingbirds get their name from the sound that their wings make when flying. When hummingbirds fly they have extremely fast wingbeats ranging from 12 to 80 beats per second.
This makes their body temperature about 105 °F which helps protect its body from the cold air as it flies. This also allows them to hover over tubular flowers while they are feeding.
What Do Hummingbirds Eat?
Hummingbirds generally feed on nutritious food like sweet nectar sources. In fact, they can visit anywhere between 1000 to 2000 flowers every single day just to keep their tummy happy.
Added bonus: they also get their protein source from insects such as mosquitoes, spiders, gnats, fruit flies, and aphids.
These agile birds are frequent feeders due to their fast and high metabolism. They usually eat half of their body weight every day. They are fascinating birds and are the only birds that tend to feed all day to survive typically needing to take in lots of nectar or insects as a food source every 10 to 15 minutes.
Where Do Hummingbirds Live?
There are almost 340 species of hummingbirds that live from Tiera Del Fuego to southern Alaska and in deserts below sea level and tropical forests at elevations of up to 16000 feet in the Andes mountains.
How Long Do Hummingbirds Live?
On average adult hummingbirds live from 3-5 years. Most wild birds live an average of 2-5 years.
More Facts About Hummingbirds
- Hummingbird nests use spider webs to construct and hold together.
- Most hummingbirds use March – July as their breeding season.
- A hummingbird’s tongue is also so long that it coils up inside their head around their eyes and skull.
- A hummingbird’s average heart rate is over 1200 beats a minute.
The Role of Hummingbirds in Your Garden
Hummingbirds, much like bees, are important pollinators. When they feed, their foreheads rub against the stamens and pistils of flowers. This allows them to collect pollen. As they move from one flower to another, they drop pollen particles which facilitate pollination and plant reproduction.
Also, hummingbirds feed on small size and tiny insects that can be detrimental to your plants, especially vegetable gardens.
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How to Attract Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds zipping around your garden and flower beds are fun to watch. These quick-flying creatures will gladly call your garden their home (at least until it’s the next time to migrate) if you have these things at their disposal:
Hummingbirds are nectarivores, so the simplest way to attract them is to have their favorite flowers growing in your garden. They love warm-colored orange flowers, red flowers, and yellow flowers.
They also love bright flowers. They prefer tube-shaped flowers which, makes it easier for their long beak and thin bill to drink purer nectar from.
Some of the best hummingbird flowers and hummingbird plants for any species of hummingbirds include:
- Bee balm
- Red Cardinal flower
- Scarlet sage
- Bouncing bet
- Silk tree
- Spider flower
- Morning glories
- Rose of sharon
- Coral bells
- Autumn sage
- Trumpet vine also known as Trumpet creeper
- Butterfly bush
- Red hot poker
- Trumpet honeysuckle also known as Campsis radicans
- Coral honeysuckle
It’s always a good idea to group similar native plants together and choose species with different blooming periods and bloom time to have a steady supply of beautiful flowers nearly year-round.
Another great way to keep these beauties coming back to your garden is by providing them with a hummingbird feeder. Designed specifically for the hummingbird, it will help them stay well-fed, especially during their migration period. A red feeder is a good choice or ones with red bases. Even tying red ribbons will do.
While you can buy hummingbird feeder solution from gardening supply stores or a local nursery, you can always make your own hummingbird food recipe by combining four parts water to one part sugar.
It’s simple, just a ratio of sugar and warm water. Simply mix the four parts hot tap water with one part of white table sugar.
Boil them for a couple of minutes until the sugar dissolves, and let the sugar solution cool or get room temperature before placing them in your hummingbird feeder. Avoid using honey or artificial sweeteners as these can spoil easily.
You can hang hummingbird feeders in multiple places throughout your home garden but make sure to space them far enough apart so that more birds can come to your garden. Using an ant moat should make things easier.
It’s also important to keep your hummingbird feeder away from direct full sun or sunlight to prevent the natural nectar from fermenting. Partial shade or shady areas should do.
Your own nectar feeders should be cleaned two to three times a week in mild detergent especially in warm weather or, hot weather or a sunny location. This prevents spoilage and mold growth, both of which can be deadly for hummingbirds.
Besides the hummingbird feeders and tubular flowers, hummingbirds also like tree sap. They don’t have a sense of smell so again, the orange to red flowers are what draws them in.
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Shelter, Perches, and Nesting Areas
Hummingbirds like to stay in places where they rest and sleep close to a reliable food source since they spend most of their daily activities eating. Trees can serve as perches and sheltered areas that will not only keep them safe from harsh weather and from predators.
When it comes to providing water sources, misters, drippers, and shallow basins are the best options for hummingbirds. You can also place broad-leafed plants close together where a little plain water can accumulate.
The birds can use them as bird baths and drink fresh water from these areas easily.
Care and maintenance doesn’t only make for a beautiful and organized garden but it can also help attract not only hummingbirds but other beautiful pollinators, as well.
Use compost as a fertilizer. Not only will it nourish your plants and dense foliage but it will also promote abundant insect life that hummingbirds can feed on.
Avoiding chemical herbicides and insecticides is also a good idea. Even the smallest trace of these chemicals can contaminate flower’s sugary nectar and be fatal for hummingbirds.
Take care of your flowers to encourage reblooming and to attract hummingbirds throughout the season. On a regular basis you should prune and deadhead plants.
Hummingbirds aren’t only a delight to watch as they zip past your garden but they also help ensure that your plants grow happy and healthy. With the tips above, you can be sure to attract these tiny creatures for seasons to come.
Do you have hummingbirds visit your garden? Leave tips, comments, and pics below to share with us.
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