Our love affair with these tiny nectar sipping birds continues and they are always met with great delight and awe when they make a visit to our summer garden. You can easily make your yard an attractive place to the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (the only species found in Eastern Canada) by planting a profusion of brightly coloured flowers that bloom continuously throughout the summer. Once attracted a hummingbird will return again and again, often at the same time of day.
While it is true that hummingbirds are especially attracted to red, your entire garden does not have to consist of red flowers – blossoms with pinks, oranges and purples are also a favourite of the hummingbird. Flowers whose blossoms are tubular, funnel and bell shaped are the favourites of hummingbirds. Their long thin bills enable them to reach inside the flower and eat the tiny insects found there, also their tongues are long and tube-like which enables them to draw up nectar.
Clusters of flowers in various parts of your yard and planters placed at varying heights will help to entice more than one visitor. (Hummingbirds are very territorial and will fight over a favourite area, a variety of feeding locans will inhibit this.) Flowers that are especially attractive to hummingbirds include: begonia, canna, columbine, fuchsia, gladiolus, hollyhock, impatiens, morning glory and petunia. Climbing plants such as honeysuckle and clematis are also a natural enticement.
Another attraction to your garden is a hummingbird feeder. Initially the feeder should be placed close to the flowers as the blossoms are the magnet. Once the hummingbird is visiting the feeder it can gradually be moved to a more visible or easily reached location.
Ideally, the feeder should be placed in an accessible but primarily shaded and sheltered area. Heat from the sun will expand the air pocket and liquid, forcing the liquid out of the feeder thereby attracting bees, wasps and ants. Also, the heat from the sun speeds up the process of fermentation of the liquid which could prove to be harmful or fatal to the birds you’ve worked so hard to attract. Mounting the feeder in a sheltered area will help prevent leakage and spillage of the nectar. Alternatively purchasing a feeder that is pole mountable and therefore more secure will also help to reduce leakage as well as to allow the hummingbird to feed during windy weather.
Selecting a feeder: Select a feeder that has red colouring to it – red is a natural attraction and will increase your odds of receiving a visitor. Select a feeder with an appropriate sized reservoir based upon usage (too small and you will spend all your time refilling, a larger sized reservoir allows much more flexibility). Wasp and bee guards help to prevent the insects from clogging the nectar ports by keeping the nectar out of reach. A pole mountable feeder is a nice feature as it is sturdy and prevents wind spillage. Many feeders come equipped with perches, this allows the hummingbird to alight while feeding, if the perches are not available the hummingbird hovers. Both are equally acceptable to the bird.
Maintenance of your feeder: Hummingbird feeders should be washed and rinsed regularly during the season. This is particularly important during the hot weather in order to reduce the risk of bacterial development and fermentation of the nectar.
It is easy to make your own solution of nectar or you can purchase a commercial mix. Red food colouring is not necessary as the feeder and your garden should have sufficient colour to attract the hummingbirds; however, if you wish to use a nectar that has red colouring to it, that is an agreeable option.
Never use honey, artificial sweeteners or other syrups as these are harmful to the birds.
Courtesy White Rose Nursery.