Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden
Hummingbirds have delighted birdwatchers for centuries. Their bright, iridescent colors, rapid flight and the ability to hover are a few of the traits that make hummingbirds unique. Such high-energy movement requires that they feed every ten to fifteen minutes. Natural foods consist of nectar, small insects and spiders. Hummingbirds are most attracted to red trumpet-shaped flowers like mandevilla.
The ruby-throated hummingbird is the species most often seen in the South. Stream banks are excellent places to watch for them in the wild. There they feed on nectar from jewelweed and trumpet-creeper. Their tiny cup-shaped nests are often found on branches that arch over a stream.
In our gardens a variety of plants will best suit their needs. Trees and shrubs to perch in, flowering borders and special sugar water feeders are bound to bring them in. After a summer of feeding, nesting and rearing young, many of these "winged wonders" will migrate to Mexico for the winter. Occasionally, western species, such as the rufous and black-chinned hummingbirds, are observed wintering in the Atlanta area.
It is best to hang 2 to 3 feeders since hummingbirds are very territorial. A female will guard her feeder, not even letting her mate or offspring drink. Try to place the feeder in an area protected from high wind and predators. Avoid high-traffic areas and areas in all day sun. Hummingbirds like a bush or tree to perch in. Keep feeders clean and full.
Feeders may be hung in mid-March throughout Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Keep the feeders up until late October. Most authorities agree that leaving a feeder up will not delay migration. However, insects such as bees, wasps and ants may become a problem. To discourage them, try petroleum jelly on the wire that hangs the feeder and around all feeder openings. This causes the insect to fall off the slippery surfaces. Some feeders come equipped with bee guards which may help to deter them.
Plants that Attract Hummingbirds
TREES, SHRUBS, VINES
Rose of Sharon
Scarlet Runner Beans
Red Hot Poker