Attracting the Hummingbirds
Attracting hummingbirds to the yard has many benefits. Not only are they enjoyable to watch, but they also help pollinate flowers and eat insects and pollen. Although small in size, hummingbirds have a large appetite and spend a great deal of time looking for food sources.
There are several ways of attracting hummingbirds to your yard. The easiest and fastest way is to put up a hummingbird feeder, filled with nectar/sugar water. Hummingbird feeders can be put out around the end of April/beginning of May which is when the hummingbirds arrive from the south.
There are a all kinds of hummingbird feeders available. From the inexpensive plastic types, to the more decorative glass types. Ideally the hummingbird feeder should have red on it, because hummingbirds are attracted to different shades of red. If the feeder does not have red on it, you can always attach a red ribbon to it, to attract the hummingbirds attention. When purchasing a hummingbird feeder look for one that is easy to take apart and clean. Feeders should be hand washed out every time they are re-filled and then thoroughly cleaned once a month with a very mild bleach solution. You want to remove any black spots from the feeder as this a type of mold. The nectar that is put in the feeder can be purchased or you can easily make your own nectar, by mixing four parts of boiled water to one part of sugar. Let it cool before putting it in the feeders. Only put enough nectar in the feeder to last 3-4 days, or else it could go bad. Leftover nectar can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
Hummingbirds are territorial, so by placing several feeders out in different locations you will attract more hummingbirds. Place the feeder in a sunny location so that the hummingbird can enjoy the warmth of the sun, and also keep it out of the reach from cats and dogs. It is also beneficial to have the feeder near trees or shrubs so that the hummingbird can hide and nest and also have a place to perch.
Another way to attract hummingbirds to the yard, is to plant flowers, shrubs and perennials that the hummingbirds will enjoy. Choose different types of flowers with different bloom times to provide a long season of nectar, and also choose plants with differing heights. There are some flowers that are more attractive to hummingbirds than others. They prefer tubular flowers that have lots of nectar, and they like bright colours and the colour red, so look for flowers that are red or have a red eye. Some of their favourites include Blazing Star, Beebalm, Bleeding heart, Day Lily, Canna, Columbine, Coral Bells, Four O Clock, Foxglove, Fuchsia, Hollyhock, Honeysuckle, Lantana, Lupins, Petunia, Salvia, Verbena, and Weigela.
Adding a water feature to the yard will bring the hummingbirds, as they enjoy running water. Have you ever noticed them flying through the sprinkler? A water fountain or a water garden with a spitter are all ideal.
It might take some time before the hummingbirds find your feeders or flowering plants, but once they start to come they will come back yearly. We find that we get more and more each year.
Hummingbirds are a great way to add life to the landscape!
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