by Carl White, Master Gardener and Bird Enthusiast
There are very few gardeners that do not like having hummingbirds in their garden, and even have certain plants for them. They are starting to arrive and once they find a bountiful "cafe" they come often and return year after year.
You often hear the hummers before you see them. Then, you will start to see them at your flowers or your backyard feeder. To sustain their supercharged metabolisms, hummingbirds must eat once every 10 to 15 minutes and visit between 1,000 and 2,000 flowers per day. Some of their favorite flowers to visit for nectar are Delphiniums (very rich in nectar), Honeysuckle vine, Hummingbird Mint, Cardinal flower, Mexican sage, red Salvias especially, Hummingbird bush, Trumpet vine, Coral vine, and even Geraniums.
You can create a healthy environment for your hummingbirds by filling your yard with native flowering plants, vines, and shrubs. They will appreciate having places (small limbs for perches) to rest and sleep. They will even build their tiny and expandable nests in your yard if you have deciduous trees and shrubbery for them to build on.
Hummingbirds need protein from pollen and insects like spiders and small flies. You can hang a basket with overripe fruit or banana peels close to your feeder to attract tiny fruit flies. The mixture for hummingbird food is 1 part sugar with 4 parts water. I boil my water before putting the sugar in. Do not use honey, artificial sweeteners, or red dye like food coloring! It is best to hang your feeders in the shade to keep the sugar solution from fermenting. You will need to change the sugar water regularly. Encourage your neighbors to make their yard hummingbird friendly also. A neighborhood of food is more valuable than scattered patches. You can also clean your feeders with 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water.
Hummingbirds like to bathe frequently. They will go to a bird bath, but the Hummer House in Christoval, Texas suggested misters.
Here's hoping you will enjoy those special tiny whirlwind machines. 5-3-2017