Digger and Gina McLean
It's Hummer Time! How to Attract Hummingbirds to your Yard.
I have always loved hummingbirds. Their tiny bodies, fast wings and crazy antics bring a smile to my face. I look forward to the day they arrive each year and am sad when they move on in the fall.
When I lived in the Western United States, we had several varieties of hummingbirds migrate through every year, and that's where my love of them started. There were Black Chinned, Rufous and Calliope hummingbirds all with unique personalities and characteristics. I felt sorry for the Southern United States, because they only had one hummingbird variety. In truth, we are blessed with one awesome variety of hummingbird, the Ruby Throated Hummingbird! Males are beautiful and have the dark head and bright red throat. Females are much less showy with a muted green body, and white chest. These hummingbirds have very short legs and cannot walk or hop, however they can move along a perch.
In Mississippi, hummingbirds begin arriving around mid March. They are omnivores and will eat nectar, sap and even small spiders and insects. They prefer red or orange flowers, probably because they have a higher nectar content, and love flowers with a tubular shape, but will feed on most types of flowers. There are two things you can do to attract hummingbirds to your yard, provide flowers and/or feeders. To attract them with flowers look online to find types of flowers they like, and start to include them in your landscape beds or porch containers. If you want to attract hummingbirds with feeders, hang your feeders around the time they are supposed to arrive in your area, so there will be available food for them. It is not necessary to color the sugar water you feed them. If you would like to make your own, the recipe is 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Mix well and boil in the microwave to inhibit mold growth. Store unused feed in the refrigerator for up to one week. Change the sugar water in the feeder before it gets cloudy. I prefer glass feeders, as they last longer and are easy to clean. I try to wash my feeders with every food change. If you can put the feeder in a shady spot, the food will stay cooler and resist mold longer.
Ruby Throated Hummingbirds can raise up to three broods of chicks per year. Males stay only to breed and then leave the female to incubate the eggs and raise the chicks. The female crafts a tiny nest on a shady hardwood branch with plant material and spider webs, and covers the outside with lichens. She lays 2 teeny eggs and sits on them for 10 to 14 days. The chicks take about 20 days to leave the nest. The mother hummingbird will feed them for a few more days after they leave the nest and then they are on their own. Many years ago, outside the second story window of our church Sunday School room, there was a mother hummingbird building a nest. Within a few days there were two tiny eggs in a little bitty nest. Then the babies were squeezed into the incredibly small nest being constantly fed and attended to, beaks always open. And then a few weeks later the nest was empty. It was such a miracle to watch. A wonder of nature. It made me love them even more.
I put three or four feeders in different locations in the fall of the year and will have 20-30 hummingbirds at one time. They are tanking up before they start their long fall migration and are so fun to watch. Having feeders bring the birds closer so you can enjoy them more. If you've never focused on attracting hummingbirds to your yard, maybe it's time to open a hummingbird buffet and start enjoying these delightful winged creatures.