These tiny, iridescent birds have a long bill and a very long tongue which they use to extract nectar. Hummingbirds are pollinators. While extracting flower nectar, the hummingbird will have pollen from a flower on its bill or head and deposit it on the reproductive part of another flower while going after more nectar.
There are 328 known hummingbird species, however only about 16 species come to the United States for their breeding ground. They range in size from 3-1/4" to 5-1/4".
Type of Food
In addition to eating natural nectar found in flowers, hummingbirds get their protein, minerals and vitamins from catching small insects and spiders. Having hummingbird feeders in your yard gives hummingbirds an instant source of nectar. The recipe for nectar is 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. If you are using regular granulated sugar, boil it to dissolve the sugar. Cool it before placing it into a nectar feeder. Never put dyes, honey or artificial sugars in the nectar.
If you use Birds Choice hummingbird nectar, you do not need to boil it because it is a fine 100% sucrose and will dissolve by shaking or stirring. Refrigerate any extra nectar. Keep the nectar fresh in the feeders. In hot weather, change every 3 days. Birds Choice also sells Fresh Nectar Defender which you mix with your nectar to protect the nectar for weeks while providing a micronutrient that is essential for the natural health of hummingbirds. By using this, you don't have to discard your nectar or change it often.
How to Attract
Besides offering fresh nectar, provide flowers and plants where the hummingbirds will find natural nectar. Some of the plants that help attract hummers are trumpet creeper vines, impatiens, morning glories, salvia, columbine, phlox, hardy fuchsia, canna lilies, coralbells, day lilies and cardinal flowers. By planting a variety, there should always be some in full bloom while others are done and regrouping for the next blossoming. It also will give you a nice splash of color by mixing several different varieties in the same bed.
Hummingbirds are also attracted to a fine mist of water, so by providing a mister and putting it on a timer, you can train them to know when it is time for them to have a refreshing shower, especially on extremely hot days. A mister can be placed in a bird bath or attached to a tree or shrub misting on the foliage. It is fun to watch the hummingbirds frolicking in the mist. Birds Choice has a variety of misters available.
There are some varieties of hummingbirds that are only found on the Pacific coast region. Some are in those areas all year round. But many, like the Ruby-throated hummingbirds, the only widespread hummer in the East, winters in Mexico and Central America. They go there because of the warmth and know there will be an unlimited supply of insects and nectar. To get there from their North American breeding grounds they embark on a long, nonstop flight across the Gulf of Mexico. They bulk up before venturing on this long and tiring journey, sometimes doubling their weight. So keep your feeders full late into the fall if you are in an area where the hummingbirds only visit during the warmer months.
- Hummingbirds are very acrobatic. They can fly forward, sideways, upside-down and backwards. They can also hover in mid-air.
- A hummingbird's favorite color is red and they are attracted to red.
- Hummingbirds have very weak feet and can barely walk. They prefer to fly and like to perch.
- A hummingbird can fly an average of 25 - 30 miles per hour and can dive up to 60 miles per hour.
- Hummingbirds are the tiniest birds in the world and take 250 breaths per minute at rest. Their heart beats up to 1,260 times per minute.
- Hummingbirds average life span is 5 years.
- When nesting, the female hummingbirds lay 2 eggs about the size of a navy bean.