Each morning my garden has so many visitors eating breakfast that it is difficult to count. There are bees, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths, and many different species of birds. I love all birds, even the birds that some call “trash-birds”. Sadly, no penguins, but it would be wonderful to see one walking around the yard. I do want to talk about the smallest bird that visits our gardens for so many of its meals.
The most common small bird is the Hummingbird. Classified as a bird, Aves, scientifically grouped into the scientific classification of Trochilidae. Of the 300 different species, there are about 18 that are found in the United States.
These tiny birds fly so fast it may be difficult to determine if you have one or one hundred. The most important fact: THEY NEED FOOD. Some are here for the summer. Many are travelers looking for a meal. If your garden is a quick re-fueling the flowers are wonderful, but some fast food would be appreciated. The hummingbird feeder can provide this meal (nectar).
Should you make your own food or buy a pre-made solution?
Hummingbirds prefer natural nectar to the store. When they are hungry, bought or homemade is appreciated. If you are going to provide nutrients make sure you start early in the season and continue through the fall migration. The flowers will fade, so it is recommended that you provide a feeder. Homemade nectar is not difficult to make, but it needs to be fresh each day. The heat can destroy the nutrients.
If you do not want to add color that is acceptable. They will come to the feeder and return daily. I have some that seem to know where to come, and if I move the feeder, they will hover at the spot looking around.
Nutrients that are important to the hummers
Hummingbirds also get protein by eating small spiders, which are plucked from their webs, and insects, or which are caught on their wings. The birds are often seen feeding amidst swarms of small insects or catching those attracted to oozing tree sap. It is estimated that about 25 percent of their diet is insects.
Recipe for making your own nectar
It is so simple to make, why wouldn’t you make it? The recipe is 1-part sugar and 4 parts water.
Boil the mixture for only a minute or two. Some individuals suggest not adding food color to the mixture. When creating this homemade nectar do not add any honey, or sweeteners to it. Honey and sweeteners are not good for the hummingbirds.
It is so easy to start your fast food habitat. They will come and provide you with the beautiful fluttering of their wings, and perhaps return next year.
The hummingbirds at my house are used to me being in the garden, they ignore me and devour the free meal.
Have you seen many hummingbirds this year? Share your photos with us!
– Jane Slone writes articles on gardening for EllisDownHome.com. Jane grew up in Dallas, and moved with her husband to Ellis County 25 years ago. She opened three flower shops, operated, and eventually sold the shops. She taught Microbiology and Anatomy & Physiology at the college level and retired 26 years later. She loves to garden and has become a Master Gardener. Her joy is teaching others about gardening!