The hummingbirds are coming! The hummingbirds are coming! Let’s get ready to prepare for their arrival. It helps to have a garden, but it is not absolutely necessary. But first, let’s talk about some plants that attract hummingbirds. Plants with red and violet/blue flowers are great for attracting hummingbirds. This includes Monarda (Bee balm) Aquilegea (Columbine), Delphinium and Buddhlea (Butterfly bush). However, other perennials and shrubs will attract them as well. I find, in my own yard, they love Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Balimer” (Endless Summer Hydrangeas) and Solidago (Golden rod). They seem to love the blossoms and shelter that Macleaya cordata (Plume poppies) provide. They will even be attracted to the purple varieties of Rhododendren. A good variety of perennials and shrubs will attract all kinds of birds, including hummingbirds.
This photo is the view from my kitchen window. Isn’t it lovely? There is a Nyjer feeder for finches and a suet feeder for the woodpeckers, blue jays and cardinals in addition to the humming bird feeders I have set out. If you don’t have a garden, then at least consider the possiblity of setting out a hummingbird feeder. Droll Yankee makes some really great feeders and they are guaranteed for life. One of their feeders is in the photo and it attaches right to the window. This is a really great feeder. It is amazing to watch the hummingbirds come right up to the window. Sometimes they hover at the feeder, but at other times, they just perch right on the feeder and you can even see their long tongue reaching into the feeder to get at the sugar solution. The hummingbirds are just inches from your view! They don’t seem to mind my activity at the kitchen window. As you can see, I have three feeders set up: one window feeder and two feeders for the stands. Each year, we get more and more hummingbirds to the yard, both due to the feeders and the plants in the yard. By the way, the bird nest attached to the tree at the back is an owl box. We haven’t had an owl yet, but I am hopeful.
Hummingbird feeders are a great way to attract hummingbirds if you do not have a garden. Do not purchase a prepared hummingbird nectar. Avoid the prepared solutions, especially the ones with red dye. The red dye is not necessary and could harm the hummingbirds. The red coloration of the hummingbird feeders is enough to attract the hummingbirds. It is easy enough to make your own nectar. And it is way less expensive than a prepared nectar. Use 2 cups of sugar to 8 cups (2 quarts) of water. Bring the water just to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Turn off the heat just as the water begins to boil. If you boil for too long, it will concentrate the sugar solution. This process will sterilize the water. Let the water cool and use a 2 quart container to store the solution in the refigerator. I find that a 1.8 quart of orange juice container works just about perfectly. There is a little excess of solution, but that particular quart size is convenient. Once a week, empty the feeders and clean them with a 10% bleach solution (1/4 cup bleach to 2/14 cups water). Soap for washing dishes, especially the ones that are antibacterial will also work well. The feeders come with a bristle brush for cleaning the tiny feeding tubes. Be sure to use the brush when cleaning.
The hummingbirds reliably show up the first week of May, but I like to be prepared for their arrival before that time. The weather has been unseasonbaly warm, so the first arrivals could show up way before them. Earth Day is Saturday, April 21at. What could be a better day for setting out hummingbird feeders?