Attract hummingbirds to your garden

Interesting facts about hummingbirds

Hummingbird photo: Wikimedia CommonsHummingbirds are fascinating little birds! Scientists study them, photographers love them as subjects and gardeners go to great lengths to attract them.

Hummingbirds are among the smallest birds on the planet and they live in the Americas from Alaska up north to Tierra del Fuego in the south; their favourite regions are Central and South America.

Lifespan of the hummingbird

The average lifespan of the North American hummingbird is between 3 – 5 years, smaller shrews live about two years. Scientists have found that hummingbirds can live up to 10 or more years — a banded broad-tailed hummingbird was actually tracked at 11 years of age!

More about hummingbirds

During my search for flowers and plants that hummingbirds love, I found some amazing and fun facts!

  • hummingbirds flap their wings anywhere from 25 to 80 beats per second while hovering
  • the tiniest of hummingbirds are Bee Hummingbirds that measure 5cm, just under 2 inches
  • hummingbirds can fly up to 54 kph (34 mph), and are the only bird that can fly backwards
  • the hummingbird’s metabolism is extremely high with their heart rate reaching up to 1260 beats per minute
  • while sleeping hummingbirds slow their heart rate to between 50 and 180 beats per minute
  • hummingbirds are able to go into a hibernation-like state and slow their metabolic rate to 1/15 of its normal rate to conserve energy
  • in order to survive a day, hummingbirds consume more than their own body weight in nectar daily
  • hummingbirds drink nectar produced by certain flowers and they’re able to assess the amount of sugar in the nectar they consume, they won’t feed at flowers producing nectar with less than 10% sugar
  • hummingbirds prey upon spiders and insects for protein, vitamins and minerals
  • the two halves of a hummingbird’s bill overlap with the lower half fitting inside the upper half and the shape of the bill varies according to species
  • the hummingbird’s tongue darts in and out quickly licking the nectar it finds in flowers
  • hummingbirds are territorial and when they find a consistent source of food, they will fight to maintain dominance within that area

There’s loads of great information about feeders, recipes for nectar and much more at Hummingbirds.net

Hummingbird swings and feeders

Hummingbirds are territorial and will use a perch to watch over their food source. Simply place this swing (pictured in the ad) near hummer feeders and enjoy watching them sit and swing. Red glass bead dangler attracts birds.

Hummingbird nectar recipe

Hummingbird feeders are popular especially later in the season when there are fewer blossoms in the garden. Tips for making your own nectar or sugar water:

  • Use the ratio of 1 cup granulated sugar to 4 cups of boiled water (boiling will reduce bacteria in the water).
  • Avoid powdered sugar as it contains corn starch that can cause the solution to start fermenting Honey when mixed with water will allow microorganisms to grow fairly quickly and spoil the solution.
  • Avoid adding food colouring to your solution; while there are no studies available regarding long-term effects of food dyes on hummingbirds, the brightly coloured feeders themselves and the pure sugar water are generally enough to attract hummingbirds to your feeder.
  • Change the sugar water and clean the feeder a couple of times per week for the best possible chance of hummingbirds making your garden their territory.

Flowers and plants that attract hummingbirds

  • Azaleas Rhododendron
  • Bee Balm Monarda
  • Begonia Begonia
  • Butterfly Bush Buddleia davidii
  • Calico Bush or Mountain laurel Kalmia latifolia
  • Cardinal Flower Lobelia cardinalis
  • Carpet Bugle Ajuga reptans
  • Columbine Aquilegia spp.
  • Coral-Bells Heuchera sanguinea
  • Desert Trumpet Ipomopis aggregata
  • Eucalyptus Eucalyptus
  • Flowering Crab Malus
  • Flowering Quince Chaenomeles japonica
  • Flowering Tobacco Nicotania alata
  • Fuchsia Fuchsia
  • Geranium Pelargonium
  • Hollyhocks Althea
  • Honeysuckle Lonicera
  • Impatiens Impatiens
  • Lantana Lantana camara
  • Bristly Locust or Rose acacia Robinia hispida
  • Morning Glory Ipomea
  • Penstemen Penstemen
  • Petunia Petunia
  • Red Fireweed Epilobium angustifolium
  • Salvia longistyla
  • Scarlet Creeper Ipomoea hederifolia
  • Trumpet Creeper Campsis radicans
  • Tulip Poplar Liriodendron tulipifera
  • Weigela Weigela
Honeysuckle, photo: P Timmermans Hollyhock, photo: P Timmermans Geranium, photo: P Timmermans
Petunia, photo: P Timmermans Scarlet creeper Columbine, photo: P Timmermans
Azalea Fuchsia Penstemon
Flowering crabapple, photo: P Timmermans Coral bells Impatiens capensis

Get the camera ready!

Charge the camera battery and get ready to take some pics. I use the Canon EOS Rebel xs and am pretty happy with the photos I get. The settings are easy to learn and for garden photos it’s great. I haven’t been lucky enough to capture a hummingbird yet but will try again this summer. For the price range, it’s a great camera!

Photo credit: the following are from Wikimedia’s creative commons – Fuchsia, Coral bells, Impatiens, Penstemon, Scarlet creeper, Azalea

Photo credit: P Timmermans – Flowering crabapple, Columbine, Hollyhock, Geranium, Petunia, Honeysuckle

 

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