Tips and resources for farmers and gardeners
There's nothing common about hummingbirds.
They are the smallest bird, coming from the smallest egg and living in the smallest nest; their colors include metallic greens, blues and reds; they have the highest metabolism of any animal, with a heartbeat of well over 600 beats per minute; and they are the only group of birds that can deliberately fly backwards.
If you've never had the privilege of watching hummingbirds closely or regularly, it is well worth the time and effort to entice them into your garden. You can provide supplemental nourishment with a sugar-water mixture in a hummingbird feeder (4 parts water to 1 part sugar, boiled to remain fresh longer, NOT dyed red and changed frequently during hot weather). Also, a number of plants will attract them into your yard and encourage them to stay longer.
As a rule, native plants contain far more nectar than cultivated hybrids. Some spring-blooming plants for their early migration in late April to mid-May include: azalea, bottlebrush buckeye, columbine, coral bells, coralberry, crabapple, currant, flowering quince, hawthorn, honeysuckle, penstemon, tuliptree and weigela.
With the addition of a few hummingbird feeders and lots of flowering plants to our yard, we went from seeing one hummingbird a year to seeing them several times a day for several months during their fall migration. And though they are regulars now, "common" they are not.
Hummingbirds are likely to linger in gardens that include nectar-filled feeders.