Fill your yard with hummingbirds

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Believe it or not, I never had a chance to hear the awesome humming sound of a hummingbird, until I came to work here at Crosby Arboretum. I’ll never forget the day I was invited to the home of Dot Burge, one of our longtime members, and pulled up a chair to sit a spell with a crowd of onlookers to watch the show. More than a dozen or more of these enchanting birds danced and cavorted as they battled over her feeders. It was truly much more entertaining than television!

In celebration of the fall hummingbird migration season, the Arboretum is again offering our popular yearly program with long-time local bander James Bell, on Saturday morning, August 17. Details follow at the end of the column, so give us a call soon to sign up and reserve your seat.
About sixteen species of hummingbirds are found in the U.S., and the ruby-throated hummingbird is the one most commonly seen in Mississippi. It is also the only species known to breed east of the Mississippi River. These tiny birds will winter in Central and South American and pass through Mississippi on both a spring and fall migration.

Many people will regularly fill hummingbird feeders with a nectar mixture purchased from the garden center or cook up their own sugar-water solution. But in my opinion, the practice is best-suited to the dedicated individual who has fully committed to replace the solution regularly in order to avoid birds becoming ill from drinking bacteria-laden solution.

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Why not forget about feeders altogether? There are many so delightful native plants for your garden that will not only be attractive in your landscape but will attract hummingbirds. Read more about these plants and then look for them at the next Arboretum plant sale or your local garden center.

To learn more about the plants you can add to your landscape that will attract these jewel-toned birds, visit the MSU Extension website at Enter the keyword “hummingbirds” and you will soon be reading about these delightful birds. The article “Attracting Hummingbirds to Mississippi Gardens” summarizes hummingbird behavior and ways to attract them, along with lists of plants for your garden. You may download and save this publication to your computer

Spring-blooming red buckeye is a favorite of hummingbirds. This small tree prefers moist soils and will grow in part shade to full sun. The tree will appreciate some shifting shade. Do keep in mind that if the soil tends to dry out the leaves will be susceptible to withering. Red buckeye is a great “passalong” plant as it is a very easy tree to propagate. Grounds manager Terry Johnson can attest to the fact that when fresh seed is planted, it will usually germinate in only a week or two.

Coral honeysuckle is a summer-blooming vine that looks super on a trellis, fence, or arbor. Full sun promotes best flowering, but the plant tolerates partial sun and attracts both hummingbirds and butterflies. If you should come across a mature vine in full bloom in the wild, it is not an easy sight to forget!

Cardinal flower is a native perennial with showy red bloom spikes in summer. I’ve also seen it growing in the wild along coastal Mississippi stream banks, in full sun to part shade, although it tends to look and do its best when it has a bit of shade. Cardinal flower prefers soils that are consistently wet, and it also attracts butterflies as well as hummers.
On Saturday, August 10, the Arboretum will hold a Silver Wire-Wrapped Jewelry Workshop. We still have room, so call now to sign up! From 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., learn to make a pendant jewelry maker Connie Boyd of Unique Stones, and go home with a beautiful pendant with semi-precious finished polished stones from around the world, wrapped in sterling silver. Program cost is $70, which includes a chain, silver wire, stone, and lesson. Class fee is paid directly to the instructor on the day of the workshop, cash or check only. More precious stones will be available for a little more if desired. Space is limited and reservations are required.
“All About Hummingbirds” will be held Saturday, August 17, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. with James Bell. Learn how to fill your yard with hummingbirds! Suited to ages 8 and up. Members $3, non-member adults $5, members’ children $1, non-member children $2. Reservations required. Please call 601-799-2311 to register for programs.

The Arboretum is located at 370 Ridge Road in Picayune, at I-59 Exit 4, and open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 to 4:30. Leashed pets are always welcome.