Inviting hummingbirds into your landscape is good for more than just the birds.
One of the many benefits of maintaining a beautiful landscape is the opportunity to attract wildlife into outdoor living spaces. Among the most beloved of these creatures is the fascinating hummingbird. These little birds can provide plenty of enjoyment to young and old alike with their aerial acrobatics that seemingly defy the laws of physics. Hummingbirds also provide additional benefits to your garden.
Most folks are familiar with hummingbirds, but here are a few fun facts you may not know:
- While tiny, hummingbirds are fairly territorial, which is why you may see the same few buzzing around throughout the summer.
- Hummingbirds are the only bird that can fly backwards.
- Hummingbirds are among the smartest of birds with fantastic memories. They can remember each flower they’ve visited and the bloom timing of various types of flowers.
- Hummingbirds eat only nectar, right? Wrong. They spend much of their day hunting for small insects and have such good hearing that they can hear insects moving around on a plant. Think aphids, gnats, mosquitoes and the like.
- Hummingbirds require a lot of nectar on a daily basis- as much as their body weight. This is because their heart rate can beat over 1200 beats per minute. They need that natural sugar high to keep going.
- As they feed, hummingbirds pollinate flowers that other pollinators cannot.
Attracting Hummingbirds to the Landscape
Clearly, the most common way to attract hummingbirds is by placing a hummingbird feeder around your home. When using a feeder, remember these tips:
- Red is attractive to hummingbirds, so try to find a feeder that has a lot of red.
- Do not add food coloring or kool-aid to your feeder. It is not good for the birds.
- You can buy pre-mixed nectar online or at many stores, but you can easily mix your own using 1 part granulated sugar to 4 parts water. When the weather is cooler, you can bump that up to 1 part sugar to 2 parts water to provide a higher energy source.
- Place your feeder out of reach of cats and dogs. Also keep it out of direct sunlight to prevent spoilage.
- If possible, use more than one feeder since the birds are territorial. This could attract more hummingbirds to your yard.
Hummingbirds also need water, so make sure to provide a clean water source. Some feeders include a small reservoir on the top that can be used for this purpose. A clean, shallow water source is all they need. They are tiny after all.
Another fantastic way to invite hummingbirds to your garden is by planting groupings of brightly colored, tubular flowers. Reds, oranges, and pinks work best with whites and yellows being the least effective. Try to select a variety of flowers that will bloom at different times throughout the season, thus providing an all-you-can eat buffet year round. Here are a few recommendations, but there are many more.
- Annual salvia
- Spider Flower
- Morning glory
- Cypress vine
If you have a green thumb and some patience, many of these plants can be started from seed. However, if you want to get a quick start on a full, blooming hummingbird garden, you can hire a local landscape company to plant a hummingbird garden for you. If you’re more of a DIY kind of person, a trip to a local garden center should yield several of the above plants that hummingbirds love, and likely some not listed.
Regardless of how you go about it, investing in hummingbird-friendly options for your outdoor space is sure to provide hours of enjoyment as you see these colorful little birds humming about eating bugs, pollinating flowers, and putting on a show.
There are ten different species of hummingbirds that have been documented in the state of Utah.
(Click the names to read about them on Audubon)
Magnificent hummingbird, Eugenes fulgens
Ruby-throated hummingbird, Archilochus colubris
Black-chinned hummingbird, Archilochus alexandri
Anna’s hummingbird, Calypte anna
Costa’s hummingbird, Calypte costae
Broad-tailed hummingbird, Selasphorus platycercus
Rufous hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus
Allen’s hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin
Calliope hummingbird, Selasphorus calliope
Broad-billed hummingbird, Cyanthus latirostris