Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Hummingbirds are a very unique and delightful bird to have in your garden.  They can be found all over America.  Hummingbirds are a great addition to any lawn and garden space and can be quite entertaining for most people. That’s why I would like to share with you how you can attract more of this intriguing specie of bird to your garden.

Some of the greatest features of a hummingbird are not known to many people.  They can flap their wings up to amazing speeds as fast as 80 times per second.   Because of this, hummingbirds have a very fast metabolism, in fact the fastest of all birds.  In order to sustain their high metabolism, they need to feed off hundreds of flowers a day.  This allows them to consume food and nutrients in excess of their own body weight.  The smallest bird in the world is the Bee Hummingbird at 2” long and weighing in at 1.8 grams.  The largest hummingbird in the world is the Giant Hummingbird weighing in at about 24 grams and 8” long.  Hummingbirds are able to decrease their metabolism just by sitting unlike other high metabolism animals.  This allows them to lengthen their lifespan up to 17 years of life.  Can you imagine a bird that is 17 years old?  That’s amazing! 

First of all, hummingbirds are attracted to bright colors and a variety of them.  They have a poor sense of smell, but love colors.  There are some plants you may want to consider planting in your garden that will provide just this.  For annuals, try the salvia, petunia, impatiens, firespike and jewelweed.  Some perennials to consider using are bee balm, costa, yucca, canna, lupine, cardinal flower and faxglove.  Use a variety of garden planters to incorporate all the different flowers and plants in various areas of your garden.  The trees and shrubs that work best include the azalea, buddleia, cape honeysuckle, mimosa, weigela, flame acanthus, lantana, red buckeye and tree tobacco.  Hummingbirds also eat bugs and insects so avoid using any pesticides.  It is also a good idea to incorporate places to rest for your hummingbirds as they do so 80% of their time.  Examples would be clothes lines, tree branches, bird houses, fences, garden statues, etc.  Female hummingbirds are always looking for nesting materials.  They usually like soft materials from willow or eucalyptus trees or mosses, lichens, and ferns.  In terms of hummingbird feeders and their locality in your garden there is a lot to consider.  Because hummingbirds prefer bright colors, try using an assortment of different brightly colored feeders and/or you can decorate around them using streamers or wind spinners.  You’ll want to position the bird feeders at various heights in your garden.  Hummingbirds can be very territorial, which is quite amusing to watch.  Another thing that hummingbirds enjoy is a cool mist, usually from wet tree leaves, but you can incorporate this using a mister in your garden.

What else attracts hummingbirds that is sweet and tasty?  Nectar can be store bought or home-made.  Just mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts boiled water.  Mix well and let cool before putting into bird feeder.  It is a good idea not to use synthetic sugars or food coloring.  Also, do not substitute sugar with honey as it can ferment and produce fungus that is harmful to the bird.  Keep the feeder out of the sun if possible and make sure to change the nectar about 2-3 times a week.  Clean your bird feeder once a week using 1 cup vinegar to 4 cups water, then a rinse through with just water. 

Hummingbirds are a wonderful way to decorate your garden and by following these tips you should be off to a great start providing the ideal territory for this specie of bird.  Sit back and enjoy all the entertainment these birds can provide.  They are truly a delight to have in your garden and your family and friends will think so too.