If there is any bird that is more beautiful or delicate than the hummingbird, we don’t know what it is! This is the time of year when hummingbirds migrate back to the Chesapeake Bay region and settle in for the summer. Hummingbirds are as ethereal as they are beautiful…you’ll catch a glimpse out of the corner of your eye of a vibrating, luminescent blur and just as you turn your head to get a better look, it’s gone! It’s frustrating. So, how do you create an environment that will encourage them to visit more often and for longer periods of time?
It all comes down to food. Hummingbirds have a famous metabolism that requires that they eat about every ten minutes, which requires them to visit about 2,000 flowers every day to seek out nectar, their preferred food. So that means you either have to provide nectar, outright, using specially-designed feeders, or you need to plant the flowers that are preferred by hummingbirds. Either way, you have to pay close attention to detail, as hummingbirds are notoriously finicky diners.
When it comes to feeders, there are only a few varieties that are reliable because they must be the right shape and color to attract their customers. K&B True Value carries a variety of feeders by both Audubon and Perky-Pet, which use red and orange, the colors favored by hummingbirds, and receptacles that are flower-shaped. They can be hung from trees, eaves, posts, or even affixed to windows for a close-up view. We also carry high-calorie nectar for easy refill. It is important to clean the feeder frequently, around twice per week during the summer months and nectar can be sticky business. You’ll want several feeders in different shapes in different parts of the yard, so that one bird won’t bully the others and prevent them from feeding. One last thing…try not to hang the feeders in direct sunlight as that could cause the nectar to ferment , which would make for some clumsy flying.
Along with the feeders, you’ll want to plant perennial flowers that are on their favorite-food list. Again, red and orange are their favorite colors, and tube-shaped flowers are a real bonanza for them! We have brought in several native perennials that are hummingbird-friendly including:
Kniphofia (Red-Hot Poker)
Some of these perennials can even be planted in hanging baskets so that they can be moved around the yard, deck, or porch. Then, at the end of the season, they can be planted directly into the landscape to come back next year. Hummingbirds also require a certain amount of protein in the form of small insects, so avoid using pesticides in your yard.
Of all the outside décor that you could add to your yard to add visual interest, none is more beautiful than hummingbirds! And it doesn’t take much to create an oasis that will have them coming back year after year!