By 250 News
Saturday, May 12, 2012 03:45 AM
The hummingbirds are back so it is time to put out the feeders.
Watching and feeding the hummingbirds is a fun hobby for many northern gardeners. The two hobbies go hand in hand as hummingbirds enjoy feeding from the nectar of flowers and gardeners enjoy growing the flowers.
There are not a lot of flowers blooming right now so many of us like to put out hummingbird feeders to help feed these tiny little birds. Hummingbirds are the smallest bird but they have a big appetite. They may only weigh less then ounce but have to eat at least half their body weight every day, so they spend a lot of their time eating.
There are lots of different types and styles of hummingbird feeders available, from the practical plastic bottle types to the hand painted glass types and they tend to all work the same.
Most hummingbird feeders are red or have red on them as hummingbirds are attracted by bright colours especially the colour red. It is said, to tie a red ribbon to the feeder if you want to get their attention.
When purchasing a feeder look for one that is easy to take apart and clean. Feeders should be rinsed out every time they are filled. Every month take the feeder apart and clean it with a bottle brush. Do not use harsh cleaners as the birds do not like them, instead use a mild bleach solution. It is important to remove any black spots from the feeder as this is a mould.
Hang several feeders around the yard as hummingbirds are territorial and can be quite aggressive.
Hummingbirds spend a lot of time perching so hang the feeder where there is easy access for the bird to perch. Small branches, twigs, a clothes line, and many feeders come with little perches that the bird can sit on.
Hummingbirds eat a lot of sugar which comes from flower nectar and tree sap. Hummingbird feeders are filled with sugar water. You can purchase hummingbird food or you can make your own. Mix one part white sugar to four parts water. Bring it to a boil, then let it cool before pouring it in the feeder. Only put enough in the feeder that can be used up within 2-3 days (depending on outside temperatures).
Store any leftover nectar in the fridge.
Hummingbirds can be attracted to your yard by giving them what they need. They need food, water, shelter, and nesting and perching spots. G
Growing flowers that are high in nectar will attract hummingbirds as they are a good food source. Choose different types of plants that bloom at different times and also bloom at different heights including hanging baskets.
Hummingbirds have virtually no sense of smell, they are attracted to bright colour. Tubular shaped flowers hold the most nectar. Blazing Star, BeeBalm, Bleeding Heart, Day Lily, Canna, Columbine, Four O Clock, Foxglove, Fuchsia, Hollyhock, Honeysuckle, Lantana, Lupins, Petunia, Salvia, Verbena, and Weigla are among the favourites.
As always, you want to be very careful when using any pesticides as these can harm the bird. Birds also eat insects so they can be helpful in the garden and they also help pollinate as they go from one flower to the next.
Water is another attraction. They especially enjoy moving water. We have a water fountain at the house that the birds enjoy using, to take a shower, and they also enjoy flying through the sprinkler.
Hummingbirds are a great way to add living colour to your landscape. They are fun to watch and can be beneficial as well, by helping out with pollinating, and eating insects. A hummingbird feeder would make a great gift for Mom!
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
- Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road
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