Friday, September 6, 2013

Hummingbird Haven

Dancing To a Hummer's Tune  by Ken & Paula Korber
hummingbird perched in trumpet vine
Hummingbird Perched in Trumpet Vine (Campsis Radicans)

Much of our gardening efforts today revolve around the anticipated arrival of our favorite summertime visitor, the ruby-throated hummingbird. Anyone who notices one of these amazing birds in their yards can't help wanting him to stay the entire summer, and hopefully, return the following year.

Start Small
We started out with one hummingbird feeder. It took a while, but we got our first visit a few weeks after hanging the feeder. The first year, we supplemented the feeder with hanging baskets. That fall, after the hummer left the area, we began to discuss next year and what we could do bring him back and keep him in our yard longer

hummingbird perched on feeder

Hummingbird Feeder Recipe
1 - part white granulated sugar
4 - parts water
Mix well and boil 3-4 minutes
Cool Completely and add to clean feeders
(i.e. 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water)

Never add anything other than listed above
Change solution often, it does go bad 
We change 2X @ week. Every other day in hot weather

hanging flower baskets
Left - Gartenmeister Fuschia
Right - Red Penta
Gartenmeister Fuschia is a particular favorite and the only fuschia tolerant of the sun. We offer this in multiple locations. For best results, place in partly sunny areas.

First Attempt
That winter, my husband found an amazing video...hummingbirds flocking to feeders. Wow! The next spring we added additional feeders, more hanging baskets, red bee balm, and cardinal flowers to our back yard. We sat back to watch the show...Yes, well, we did manage to attract additional hummingbirds to our yard. We also turned our sweet little hummer into a dive-bombing kamikaze. 

Learning Curve
We learned a few things from watching our guests. If you add enough food, your yard will become "hummer worthy". A hummer-worthy yard draws the attention of one dominant male, perhaps an additional male to challenge the reigning king, and a few females that are there to annoy, distract and outwit as many males as possible. They all have the same goal, eat, so that they can make it to their winter homes. They prefer not to share and will try to guard food. Your yard is now an arena for a mixed up game of tag and hide-&-seek. Doesn't matter that there is enough food for all, doesn't matter that they may not even like everything you offer. If your dominant male can protect all, he will. Other hummers will try to out-fly, outsmart and out-eat him.

hummingbird and black and blue salvia
Black & Blue Salvia (annual)

hovering hummingbird
Hovering Hummingbird

Help Them Reach Their Winter Homes
You can help by planting. They are drawn to flowers that are red, orange and tubular. Once in your yard, they will start to investigate all you offer. Color will not matter, tubular flower shape will always be important. Plant in multiple areas so that there are opportunities for several hummers to feed. Use any and all food sources. We use native plants when possible and non-native to extend their choices. Hanging baskets, pots and whiskey barrels are filled with annuals to provide variety and a consistent food source. We also offer feeders for transients who need a quick shot of energy. If there is ample food and opportunity, transients will stay to rebuild strength before continuing home.

Advertise Food Availability

whiskey barrel flowers
Salvia, Firecrackers and Million Bells
"It pays to advertise. We have two of these whiskey barrels, one on each side of the garage door. Front yard has no tree cover so the bright red & orange is in full view of hummingbirds passing by"

Plant Favorites in Multiple Locations

hummingbird and native trumpet honeysuckle
Young Native Trumpet Honeysuckle Vine (Lonicera Sempervirens)

hummingbird and native red trumpet vine
Native Red Trumpet Vine (Campsis Radicans)
non-invasive butterfly bush, native cardinal and swallowtail
Non-Invasive Butterfly Bush & Native Cardinal Flower
You'll find that many plants do double or even triple duty. Hummingbirds will sample plants chosen specifically for butterflies. Butterflies will sample hummingbird favorites, and bees, bees are all over everything!

You wouldn't care to have the same meal every day. Offer the same diversity to your guests. What you attract to your yard may surprise you.


Happy Endings
Our dominant male continues to be creative when selecting his guard perches. Other hummers are just as resourceful when choosing feeding locations. Meanwhile, my husband and I have learned to relax. We do the best we can with food choices and their placement and leave the hummers to work it out on their own. We have started to notice feeders and hummingbird-friendly plants being added to neighboring yards. That makes us smile and we are willing to share. We're no longer the only ones dancing to a hummingbird's tune. 

fly away hummingbird
See You Next Spring!!!

It's sad to see the hummingbirds leave in the fall.
Don't worry, if you've been a gracious host, they'll return next spring


  1. I thought haven’t read such distinctive material anywhere else on-line.hummingbird vine

    1. Thank you for your comment. We tend to be a little nuts where hummingbirds are concerned. The blog lists our observations & what works for us in our own yard.