Hummingbirds

By Lori Mork

They zip by so quickly you almost miss them; just a flash of color and hum of wings, almost impossible to see. The smallest of birds, the hummingbird, seems to produce the
most awe. If your yard has a few key elements, those hovering wonders of nature may hang around all summer.

Hummingbirds start arriving in this area in April or May, depending on the weather. If you have a feeder out when they arrive, there’s a good chance they will make your yard their home. Place feeders in shady areas to help prevent nectar from spoiling quickly. If the birds aren’t finding your feeder, try changing the location, moving it near a flower or plant.
Hummingbirds begin eating daily about a half hour before the sun comes up and continue until a half hour after dark. They eat nearly 25 percent of their daily intake in the first hour and can eat up to 70 times a day to fuel wings that beat approximately 90 times a second.

Contrary to popular belief, nothing keeps hummingbirds from migrating, so
it’s fine to keep feeders out until you haven’t seen any for two weeks, allowing
stragglers to add fuel for the journey.

Minnesota is home to a few different species: Rufous, Anna’s, Calliope, Magnificent and the most common – the Ruby-throated, which migrates 600 miles across the Gulf of Mexico twice a year.

The Ruby-throated are inquisitive and easily attracted to feeders. They quickly become accustomed to humans and will even hover close to red clothing to check out its possibility of providing food.

Hummingbirds also keep your insect population under control as they eat aphids, gnats, mosquitoes and leafhoppers.

So plant a trumpet flower or vine and see if you can entice a few of these magical creatures to stay awhile.

HUMMINGBIRD TIPS
from the National Audubon Society

  • Choose flowers with red, pink or orange tubular shapes that contain nectar at the bottom.
  • Select plants that bloom at different times to provide nectar throughout the growing season.
  • Avoid pesticides. Birds ingest poisons when they eat contaminated insects and systemic herbicides can get into flower nectar.
  • Be persistent. Nectar-feeding birds may appear right after you set out flowers and feeders, or it may take weeks.
  • Use feeders to attract birds until flowers flourish. Purchase nectar or make your own by combining four parts hot water to one part white sugar, boiled 1-2 minutes. Never use honey, artificial sweeteners or red food coloring.
  • Provide trees and shrubs for perching and nesting.

HUMMINGBIRDS’ FAVORITE FLOWERS

Annuals
Cypress Vine
Flowering
Tobacco
Four O’Clock
Geranium
Impatiens
Nasturtium
Petunia
Scarlet Runner
Bean
Scarlet Sage
Snapdragons
Spider Flower
Verbena
Zinnia

Perennials
Bearberry
Beardstongue
Bee Balm
Bleeding Heart
Butterfly Weed
Cardinal Flower
Columbine
Coral Bells
Daylilies
Delphinium D
Evening Primrose
Foxglove
Garden Phlox
Gayfeather
Gentian
Hibiscus
Hollyhocks
Summer Phlox
Sweet William
Varieties of Hosta

Trees and Shrubs
Azalea
Buckeye
Butterfly Bush
Catalpa
Crabapples/Apples
Currant
Gooseberry
Hawthorne
Horse Chestnut
Lilacs
Locust
Redbud
Rhododendron
Weigela

Vines
Honeysuckle
Morning Glory
Trumpet Creeper

Miscellaneous
Fuchsia
Glads
Strawberries
Tiger Lilies

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