Building a hummingbird home

Published 7:00 am Friday, May 6, 2016

Many of us provide hummingbird feeders to increase the numbers of the tiny birds we see around our homes before they migrate back to their winter homes in Mexico and Central America.
We assume a certain amount of responsibility for these delicate birds when we feed them. If you are not willing to keep fresh feed in a frequently cleaned container, you should consider planting a hummingbird garden instead.
Home gardens can attract hummingbirds by providing the birds’ favorite flowers. Welcome hummingbirds to a backyard by selecting a variety of plants that flower at successively later dates. Use plants with brightly colored flowers, especially red, orange and pink. The plants should have nectar producing flowers and bloom during the birds’ migration in spring and again in late summer and early fall attract them to an area.
Planting a hummingbird garden is a good way to ensure the birds have adequate food sources in a single yard.
Since hummingbirds have almost no sense of smell, the flowers they are attracted to often are not very fragrant. They look for bright colors and high nectar production characteristics. A variety of flowering trees, shrubs, vines and flowers satisfies hummingbirds and results in a beautiful landscape for you to enjoy. Annual plants you should consider planting are: Begonias, Geraniums, Impatiens, Lilies, Nasturtiums, Petunias, and Zinnias. Perennial plants you may be interested in planting are: Butterfly weeds, Cannas, Four o’ clocks, Lantanas, Salvias, and Verbenas.
There are also a variety of trees, shrubs and vines that provide food for hummingbirds. Azaleas, flowering quince, red buckeye, and mimosa attract hummingbirds and are especially beneficial because they can feed dozens of birds at once while they are blooming.
The tubular red flowers of trumpet vines are also very attractive to hummingbirds. Chinese trumpet creeper and common trumpet creeper are both good flowering vines the birds love to sip nectar from. Hummingbirds will also flock to red trumpeted honeysuckle, coral honeysuckle, cypress vine and morning-glories.
Hummingbirds display many unique abilities that make them wonderful to watch. A hummingbird’s wings can rotate 180 degrees up, down, forward, and back, which means the bird can hover, fly backward and ascend vertically. The creatures commonly beat their wings 50 to 70 times per second. Their metabolism is quite fast and their energy requirements are high.
Hummingbirds get most of their energy from flower nectar and sugar water they find in feeders, but they also eat soft-bodied insects and spiders for protein. Don’t use pesticides around hummingbird plants. Besides killing garden pests, the pesticides may eliminate the small insects hummingbirds need. Hummingbirds could become sick or die if they directly ingest pesticides sprayed onto flowers.
Hummingbirds usually use vines, shrubs or trees as nesting sites.
The nest is most often attached to a branch or in the crotch of a forked limb.
Plant fibers, fluffy seeds, lichens, and spider webs are used to construct the tiny nest. Leave plenty of these items available in your yard throughout the year. Allow undisturbed areas of your yard to grow with thickets of trees, shrubs and vines to provide for nesting space.
Birds will not nest in high traffic areas.

By Eddie Smith

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