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Hummingbirds, aka "hummers," dart, dive and delight you with their fast-flying, acrobatic-like maneuvers as they search for nectar among flowers. They also like feeders filled with plain sugar water.
"I keep two hummingbird feeders in my yard, and have had luck attracting them with several plants: bee balm, salvia, fuchsia and nicotiana," says
"I've also had hummers come to pentas on my deck."
"The ruby-throated hummingbird migrates from
"As you go south, you get more species - in
"In the tropics of
Ruby-throated hummers and others among their species weigh less than a nickel, and can fit in the palm of your hand, according to
They can fly at speeds up to 29 miles per hour, and their body structure allows them to fly forward, backward and to hover.
"They have even been observed to throw a somersault every now and then," Susan says.
Known to be long-distance migrators, they fly 18 to 22 hours, especially when crossing the
Often, their migration is timed to coincide with flowering plants along their routes; their favorites include native species with red or orange tubular blooms. You can also hang mesh bags of fruits or banana peels to attract fruit flies, another favorite food source of hummers. They also like a source of fresh water, such as a birdbath for sipping and bathing.
Once they arrive at their destination, they get busy starting a family. Females make nests out of leafy materials woven together with spider silk and decorated with lichens, according to Susan. The female lays two bean-size eggs, and raises the hatchlings herself from newborns to young adults within three weeks.
This year, the hummingbird is the focus of the
"No, not only red flowers attract hummers," says Tim.
"Blue flowers such as salvia, lungwort and agapanthus do a great job of attracting hummers. Remember, you want to plant a diversity of flowers in your garden - including flowers that bloom at different times of the year - from spring to late fall to provide sustenance for the little gems. Include flowers such as columbines, bee balm, phlox, foxglove, fuchsia, honeysuckle, trumpet creepers and goldenrod."
To keep hummingbirds coming to your feeder, follow these sugar water feeder tips, courtesy the
_Dissolve one part white sugar in four parts hot water.
_Boil the water if you plan to store the nectar in the refrigerator.
_Never use honey, which ferments easily, or artificial sweeteners, which have no food value for birds. Red food coloring is not recommended because it may be harmful to birds.
_Let the solution cool to room temperature before putting it in your feeder. You can store homemade nectar for up to a week in the refrigerator.
_Once you fill your feeder, don't forget to empty, rinse and refill your feeder every two to three days (especially in warm weather) to prevent spoiling. This ensures that hummingbirds won't become sick from drinking bad nectar.
In addition to nectar, hummers also eat insects for protein and minerals, according to Tim. They eat all sorts of insects - mosquitoes, aphids, gnats and caterpillars - even spiders.
"Watch them carefully, and you can see them hawking for flying insects - they are very good at catching them in flight," he says.
"People are fascinated with hummers because they are such terrific little fliers. Not only can they hover when feeding, but they are also the only species that can fly backward."
For more information and tips on gardening for wildlife and certifying your yard as a Wildlife Habitat, with the
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