Acrobatic hummingbirds are delightful garden visitors. Not only are they fun to watch, they are excellent pollinators!
Water features are another way to attract hummingbirds. Misters and sprinklers, rather than a birdbath, are the best bets.
Hummingbird feeders are a popular method of attracting hummingbirds, but the red dye contained in commercial food may not be good for these tiny fliers. There isn’t any real research available, but Red Dye #40, the most commonly used, is made from coal tar. It just doesn’t sound healthy. Plus, there is no need to add dye to the sugar-water mix in a hummingbird feeder. Most feature red plastic, which is all that’s needed to get a hummer’s attention.
To make hummingbird food, mix 1 part white sugar with 4 parts water and stir well. Do not use brown, ‘raw’ or turbaned sugars, as they contain iron, which can become toxic to hummingbirds. Honey and artificial sweeteners should also be avoided. To reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal infections, it is recommended that this mixture be boiled for 2 minutes and then cooled before putting in a feeder. (Extras can be stored in the refrigerator.)
Hummingbirds are very territorial and they will aggressively defend their food supply against other hummingbirds. To offset this tendency, planting a wide variety of flowers and hanging multiple feeders in different areas of the yard will attract the maximum number of hummingbirds to the garden.
A hummingbird’s long beak can reach nectar from flowers that many other pollinators dismiss, leaving the pollen untouched. Hummingbirds also eat nectar and insects, such as gnats, flies, ants, and spiders. So, the next time an ant trail is seen leading to the hummingbird feeder, leave it alone. These tiny morsels are like protein-infused potato chips to a hummingbird!
Unlike most other birds, hummingbirds seem to have a genuine curiosity about humans. If you are very patient, you can even get a wild hummingbird to perch on your finger!
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!