A tiny hummingbird, like most pollinators, are 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
The hummingbird is a small bird that migrates and is native to South America and North America. They 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 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 body weight around 4 grams or about the weight of a US penny. They have a narrow, long narrow beak that is perfect for extracting nectar from flowers.
They also have iridescent feathers that come in a wide range of 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. It is the male that shows off the pretty colors as they strut their stuff through your 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. 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 sweet nectar. In fact, they can visit anywhere between 1000 to 2000 flowers every day just to keep their tummy happy. Apart from this, 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 metabolism. They are fascinating birds and are the only birds that tend to feed all day in order to survive typically needing to take in food 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 a hummingbird lives 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 insects that can be detrimental to your plants, especially vegetable gardens.
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How to Attract Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds zipping around your garden are fun to watch. These quick-flying creatures will gladly call your garden their home (at least until it’s time to migrate) if you have these things at your 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 and red flowers. They also prefer tube-shaped flowers which makes it easier for their long beak to drink nectar from.
Some of the best flowers for any species of hummingbirds include:
- Cardinal flower
- Scarlet sage
- Bouncing bet
- Silk tree
- Spider flower
- Morning glories
It’s always a good idea to group similar native plants together and choose species with different blooming periods so that there will be a steady supply of flowers nearly year-round.
Another 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.
While you can buy hummingbird feeder solution from gardening supply stores, you can always make your own sugar water for hummingbirds.
Simply mix four parts hot water with one part white sugar. Boil it for a couple of minutes and let cool before placing 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 garden but make sure to space them far enough apart so that more birds can come to your garden.
It’s also important to keep your hummingbird feeder away from direct sunlight to prevent the nectar from fermenting.
Nectar feeders should be cleaned two to three times a week especially in warmer weather. This prevents spoilage and mold growth, both of which can be deadly for the 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 can rest and sleep that is close to food sources. Trees can serve as perches and sheltered areas that will not only keep them safe from harsh weather but also from predators.
When it comes to providing water, misters, drippers, and shallow basins are the best options for hummingbirds. You can also place broad-leafed plants close together where a little water can accumulate. The birds can use them as bird baths and drink 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 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 nectar and be fatal for hummingbirds.
Take care of your flowers to encourage reblooming and to attract hummingbirds throughout the season. Regularly 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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