Though hummingbirds have been seen in recent weeks by some hummingbird enthusiasts, most of us are still waiting for our first hummer of the year. Let’s go over what the folks who study hummingbirds say about what is important for welcoming the migrating hummers, both those that will nest in your area and those that are just stopping-over on their way to their nesting areas.
- While many think that a hummingbird feeder is the most important thing for attracting these migrating hummers, those who study them point out that hummers generally use feeders to supplement their diet. As noted in ‘Attracting Hummingbirds’ , an online publication by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, hummers get “most of their nourishment” from insects and flowers.
- Provide nectar flowers that are suited to hummingbirds: hummers seem to prefer tube-shaped flowers that are red or orange (sometimes even pink or purple). Choose native plants whenever possible.
- Though you may attract migrating hummingbirds with just hummingbird feeders (likely because there are flowers and plants in the area that provide for their needs) you can increase you chances of drawing hummers to your feeders, and keeping them longer, by providing nectar flowers.
- It can be challenging to provide these nectar flowers, especially early in the growing season, so purchasing some hanging plants with nectar flowers from your local nursery will do the trick (I learned this an excellent article on BirdsAndBloom.com by wildlife photographer Steve Byland).
- Hummingbirds need to eat insects, especially small spiders, to meet their protein needs so avoid pesticide use if you want to improve your chances of hummingbirds coming to your yard. The short video clip below demonstrates how hummingbirds even catch small insects in the air:
Video footage courtesy of JCM Digital Imaging HTTP://JCMDI.COM
- Hummingbirds like trees and shrubs that provide perches for them (also shown in video clip) so they can rest, groom, watch for insects to go after, check out the flowers they may want to sample, and often so they can guard your feeder so other hummers can be chased away.
- Most of us like to have one or more hummingbird feeders that can be hung where we can get a clear view of the hummers. The hummingbird experts agree on feeding basics: “4 parts water to 1 part sugar. The water should not be distilled. The sugar should be white table sugar, not turbinado sugar, brown sugar, or other forms. Use no artificial colors (red dye does NOT help attract hummingbirds) or other additives. Never use honey or artificial sweeteners, for to do so may kill the birds. “ (from the Hummingbird Society which has an excellent web page, ‘Feeder’, that has a lot of good information about feeding hummers)
- Keep the sugar water fresh and keep the feeder clean (go to Hummingbird Society ‘Feeder’ web page for details)
- Hummers need water to keep feathers clean. They prefer “water that is shallow and moving” but also enjoy showers so fountains and misters work–then sit back and watch them put on a show.