Humming with Happiness the Hummingbird

March 17, 2018 pixelmark

Humming bird | green humming bird
Spring migration is in full swing.
Find out how to attract hummingbirds to layover in your yard.

Written by Jackye Meinecke Photos courtesy Wild Birds Unlimited

While St. Patrick’s Day is not a big holiday in the Southwest, I always use the date as a reminder to get hummingbird feeders up. Soon hummingbirds will arrive to feed, nest, and rear their young.

During spring migration, we may observe several different hummingbirds, including black chinned, Anna’s, broad-tailed, and calliope. Later in the summer, we can add rufous hummingbirds to our list of visitors.

Humming bird | humming bird and the purple flowerTo entice more hummingbirds into our gardens, we must create a habitat that supplies their needs. In the desert, one sure attraction is water. Hummingbirds do not drink at birdbaths; they catch water from a spray produced by a sprinkler or mister.

Nectar feeders attract hummingbirds, and may also attract woodpeckers, flycatchers, orioles, and other songbirds. Nectar feeders come in all shapes and sizes. Kristi Lane of Wild Birds Unlimited recommends “feeders that are easy to clean and don’t drip. If you have feeders that drip, you will attract ants.” Nectar Fortress, a natural gel ant repellent and new product, can be applied to a feeder’s hanger or post.

Hummingbirds are pugnacious in guarding feeders in their territory. “Put several small feeders in a 10-15 foot area,” Kristi says, “because a hummingbird can guard only one feeder at a time.”

To entice these delightful birds, nectar should be fresh. “The nectar should be changed every two to three days,” Kristie adds. “Also, do not add red coloring and be sure to use table sugar.”

For those who want packaged nectar that also stays fresh longer, Wild Birds Unlimited offers Naturally Fresh Hummingbird Nectar. Kristie says the ingredients include natural sugar and no coloring. Wild Birds Unlimited conducts studies nationally to insure its products are safe for birds.

Brightly blooming flowers throughout each season also attract hummingbirds in abundance. A variety of drought tolerant and native plants with overlapping bloom seasons work best.

Salvias are a hummingbird favorite. Cherry sage (Salvia greggii) blooms from March through November. This small shrub covers itself with red or pink flowers. Many blue and red salvias are not only blooming powerhouses, but a feast for hummingbirds. Look for blue Mealy cup sage (Salvia farinacea) for summer blooms. For fall, plant Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), which grows four feet tall and has velvety purple blooms. To protect hummingbirds, do not use pesticides in the garden. Hummingbirds eat hundreds of small insects and feed babies an insect diet. Also, hummingbirds use spider webs—as well as leaves, cotton, and other soft bits—to build their nests.

“Do not use dryer lint,” Kristie advises when discussing nesting materials for hummingbirds. “It melts away in a rain.” Nest building materials such as natural cotton are available at Wild Birds Unlimited.

I monitor my kitchen window to catch sight of my first hummingbird of the season. Spotting the first one makes me smile all day. With water, flowers, insects, food and nesting materials, I am sure to get many sparkling.

To entice more hummingbirds into our gardens, we must create a habitat that supplies their needs. In the desert, one sure attraction is water. Hummingbirds do not drink at birdbaths; they catch water from a spray produced by a sprinkler or mister.

Feeding Hummingbirds

Humming bird | orange humming birdHummingbirds love to lap up nectar with their long tongues from flowers and feeders. These tiny birds use so much energy flying that they need to eat nearly half their weight in nectar and insects each day. These birds are most comfortable in the air, and they are capable of hovering while they feed. When they fly, they can perform some acrobatics that other birds cannot—they can fly up, down, forward, backward, and even sideways. They’re quite bold too, so place your feeder close to the house so you can catch all the action!

The best nectar is a simple solution you can make!

• Mix four parts water and one part ordinary table sugar to create a nectar solution.

• Change the nectar—and wash the hummingbird feeder in hot water—every three to four days (more often in hot weather.)

• If you plan to store nectar in the refrigerator, boil the solution first.

• Never add red food coloring, artificial sweetener, or honey to the solution.

Humming bird | multicolor humming bird

Courtesy Wild Birds Unlimited

Wild Birds Unlimited
2001 E. Lohman Ave. | lascruces.wbu.com

 

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