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February 2008
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Hummingbirds in the garden

Creating a Hummingbird Garden

The creation of a successful hummingbird habitat in your garden is easy. Like other birds, they need food, water, and spots for nesting, roosting and perching. Hummingbird metabolism dictates a diet high in sugar. A `typical’ hummingbird consumes half of his weight each day in sugar requiring several feedings per hour. They obtain their sugar and many other nutrients from flower nectar.

Providing a steady succession of nectar flowers from early spring until late autumn is the key to attracting these birds. Hummingbirds are particular about their flowers. These `hummingbird flowers’ are often red, a color which is visible to the birds, but is indistinctive for insects competing for the nectar. These flowers often have
long tubular flowers which also discourages most bees which cannot reach down far enough to get the nectar. Red is the color that gets a hummingbirds attention, but they also sample flowers of other colors and frequent them if they are good nectar producers. Although attracted to the color red flowers they won’t come back if those are a poor food source.

Hummingbirds also consume many small insects which they find in the flowers. A diversity of flowers promotes a healthy diversity of insect life that is necessary for their diet.

A complete habitat also includes trees and shrubs for shade roosting, perching and nest sites. It has been suggested that willows trees are a multipurpose plant. Their flowers are a source for both nectar and small insects while the downy filaments which aid in seed dispersal are a good nest building material for the hummingbird.

Hummingbirds get their nutritional water from nectar, but they do appreciate a bird bath. The water must be shallow, to accomplish this in a regular bird bath line the bottom of the basin with flat rocks and fill with water.

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