The Hummingbird Garden
Hummingbirds are nature’s soap opera. If these little birds
are native to your area, creating a hummingbird garden will not only give these birds new
habitat, but will provide some good entertainment.
Most of the nectar-rich flowers hummingbirds seek offer red, tube- or trumpet-shaped blooms. However, a garden of only one or two favorite flowers will not provide a summer-long food source. Bee balm and cardinal flower
are favorites, but they bloom for a short time. Planting flowers with different blooming times will provide nectar throughout the seasons.
A season-round humming bird garden might include scarlet sage, butterfly bush, bee balm, butterfly weed, common and swamp milkweed, joe-pye-weed, mistleflower, phlox, purple coneflower, New England aster, goldenrod, zinnias, globe amaranth, sedum, Verbena bonariensis, and Mexican sunflower. Hollyhock, Borage (Borage officinalis), Bottlebrush (Callistemon sp.), Fuschia, Sweet Pea, rosemary, Nasturtium, and Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii).
Providing water adds another attraction to your garden.
A mister set up over a plant, with the overflow dripping down
through the leaves and into a pond or dish below seems to be the
ideal hummingbird bath. For a temporary shower, a garden sprinklers will also draw the birds.
Planting clusters of one species of plants will intensify the color and scent and help hummingbirds find the plants.
Planting these clusters in several locations around the garden, prefereably with one cluster not visible from another, will ensure that all the hummingbirds can get food. Male hummingbirds are extremely territorial and will
chase other hummingbirds out of the garden in attempt to dominate the entire area. If the clusters are placed so
that the male cannot see other birds, all the birds have a chance to eat. Five groups within half an acre is usally suitable. Of course, for the birds’ safety, avoid placing food-plants near brush or other places cats can hide and keep food-plants and feeders away from windows.
While hummingbird feeders shouldn’t be the only food source in the garden, they’re a helpful supplement, especially toward autumn when the flowers begin to fade. When their favored nectar sources are blooming, hummingbirds will ignore feeders, anyway.
Hummingbirds nest in the areas bordering woodlands and meadows,
close to the mature trees in which they prefer to build nests and to
flowering plants that supply nectar and atttract the small insects they eat. Their
nests are remarkably tiny — about the size of half a walnut shell.
The outside is usually covered with moss and plant fibers and is sometimes shingled with lichen.
The rest is made of plant down and spider webs.
Hummingbirds do not re-use the same nest, but often build a new nest in the same location, occasionally right on top of the old nest.
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