Even though your Northeast Wildlife Garden may still be blanketed in snow, it’s time to start thinking about hummingbirds.
The first of these tiny migrants have arrived at the Gulf Coast, after an exhausting journey across the Gulf of Mexico. Now we will not see them here in the northeast for several weeks, but after this long, cold, hard winter, just knowing that they’re coming brings great joy to my winter weary soul!
And now is the time to prepare for their return to your wildlife garden so that you have all the elements in place by the time that they get here.
First, get out your hummingbird feeders and make sure that they are clean. Hopefully you gave them a good scrubbing when you took them down for the winter. So now you can just give them a nice wiping off.
Remember, you don’t need to purchase any of that red-dyed “Hummingbird Nectar” that you often see at the grocery store or the pet store. This is expensive and there’s some evidence to suggest that dye may cause illness in the hummingbirds. If you purchase a red-colored feeder, there is really no need to dye the nectar.
It’s really quite easy to make your own nectar for your hummingbird feeders. Simply add one cup of sugar to four cups of water and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool, and fill your feeders. Easy peasy, right?
You’ll probably want to hang more than one feeder, because these feisty little birds can be VERY territorial over “their” feeder.
Take some time to learn about the natural history of hummingbirds and what they need from their environment. With this knowledge you are better prepared to create a haven for these beautiful birds in your wildlife garden.
Now you want to start thinking about what plants you can add to your wildlife garden that will best provide natural food sources for hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are often attracted to red flowers with a tubular shape, but they visit flowers of other colors, too.
The best native flowers for hummingbirds in the northeast are:
- Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
- Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
- Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
- Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
- Bleeding Heart (Dicentra eximia)
- Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
- Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemmon digitalis)
- Lyre-leaved Sage (Salvia lyrata)
- Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
These tiny birds with very long bills and amazing feats of acrobatic flight are one of my favorite visitors to my wildlife garden, and I’ve spent many a happy hour watching them visit the flowers I’ve planted for them.
What do you do to attract hummingbirds to your wildlife garden?