Hummingbirds have become very popular attractions in back yards where ever they are found. They are colorful, active and portray a variety of social interactions that are interesting to backyard birders and naturalists. A group of well-attended feeders in a garden is a never ending source of delight. However, one must remember that the nectar feeders we put up to attract these living jewels are just one element in attracting them. To gain the most success and, most importantly, for the health of the birds, flowering plants, water and shelter from the elements should also be provided
Coloring and Feathers
The hummer’s striking iridescent coloring has given them the nickname “Nature’s Jewels”. The color comes from two sources. The first is the pigment color of the feather and the second is a property known as structural color. Interestingly, the pigment colors in hummer feathers do not include red or yellow. The feather pigment colors are limited to black, brown, and reddish brown. Structural color refers to the color reflected from the facets of the feathers and accounts for the shifting iridescence of the plumage. Hummer feathers may appear to be different colors when viewed from different angles. White hummers, albino, are not unknown and are not a separate species. In the eastern US, an albino bird is most likely to be a Ruby-throated.
How to attract humming birds.
To attract humming birds to your garden plant brightly colored flowers and shrubs. Hummingbirds have very little sense of smell but are attracted to bright colors. Hanging a hummingbird feeder in your garden or on your patio will attract these lovely birds. Annuals to plant include beard tongue, salvia, petunia, jewelweed, jacobinia, impatiens, and firespike. Perennial plants to attract hummingbirds include foxglove, hosta, hummingbird mint, lupine, yucca, cardinal flower, bee balm, canna and columbine. For trees and shrubs choose azalea, buddleia, cape honeysuckle, mimosa, weigela, flame acanthus, lantana, red buckeye and tree tobacco.
How to make hummingbirds food.
Making food at home is not only cheaper and super simple to do, but it’s better for the birds. This recipe resembles the nectar that flowers produce. One (1) part refined white granulated sugar and four (4) parts water. Boil the refined sugar with the water until all the sugar is dissolved. This formula can last 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. Regular refined sugar is better to use then raw sugar that is unrefined. Because white refined sugar is pure sucrose that is commonly found in the nectar of flowers. With refined sugar all the impurities and contaminates are removed. Hummingbirds supplement their diet of proteins by eating small bugs and insects.
Hummingbird nests are raided for eggs and chicks by snakes, large birds, and some mammals but adult hummingbirds are not regular prey. The most common danger is the family pet that gets lucky enough to ambush one. Birds, such as owls, hawks, roadrunners, and other large birds have been known to take hummers as have frogs, spiders, and preying mantises. Hummingbirds are also solitary travelers and the migration is separated by age and gender. Males begin moving north about three weeks before the females and depart the summer range before the females and juveniles. Some reasons are offered by experts for this behavior but the reason is more guesswork that solid fact.