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Attracting HummingbirdsWe love hummingbirds! Currently there are 4 that reside in our back yard. All day long they chatter and chase one another around the yard competing for nectar. Of all our flowering plants the Cigar Plant seems to rank #1 in popularity with our hummingbirds and the Hibiscus is probably the 2nd most desired.

Hummingbirds do not rely on scent but rather color to lead them to flowers that produce large amounts of nectar. They are particularly drawn to tubular shaped brightly colored flowers of red, orange and hot pink. Hummingbirds will also feed from flowers of softer colors if they have high nectar content. We have several light pink hibiscus plants that our hummingbirds frequent.

To add a few more flower choices for our resident hummingbirds and hopefully attract different species, we made a trip to our local family owned nursery/hardware store, Green Thumb, to find out which local plants are best for attracting hummingbirds. We made it home with a couple of new flowering plants and a birdbath to make our garden more bird friendly. Noah and I put together a home made hummingbird feeder. Our little friends need lots of energy so we decided to do all we could to make their hunt for food a little easier.

Hummingbird Collage Buying and PlantingHere is a list of 6 plants we have in our garden that attract hummingbirds and do well in our California Central Coast climate. Click on the links to find more growing information for each plant.

Pentas

Hummingbird Collage Pentas

Hibiscus and Salvia

Hummingbird Collage Hibiscus_Salvia

Cape Honeysuckle and Cigar Plant

Hummingbird Collage Cape honeysuckle_cigar plant

Fuchsia ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’

Hummingbird Garden Fuschia

Hummingbird species that reside in or migrate through California:

For a complete list of all hummingbird species in North America by state, visit hummingbirds.net

Fun hummingbird facts:

1. Hummingbirds only exist in the Western Hemisphere.

2. Hummingbirds have to eat ½ their body weight in nectar each day to survive. This is why they can be so territorial when it comes to defending their food  source. They are constantly feeding because they burn energy so fast.

3. A hummingbird’s heart beats approximately 600 beats per minutes at rest and doubles to 1,200 BPM when in flight.

4. Their wings beat up to 200 times per second.

5. Hummingbirds don’t suck the nectar from the flower using their long beak as most people think. They use a long tongue to lick the nectar from the flower.

6. They also eat bugs and spiders for protein.

7. During the night hours hummingbirds settle on a perch, fluff their feathers to help retain body heat and enter into a form of hibernation called torpor to conserve energy. They can literally perish in their sleep if they run out of energy. At this point their body temperature can go from 150 degrees down to 75 degrees and their heart rate decreases to approx. 35 beats per minute.

8. Some flowers depend on hummingbirds alone for pollination.

9. Their feathers are iridescent and shimmer when hit by light. They do not contain pigment, but cells that emit wavelengths creating the color you see.

10. Female hummingbirds use spider webs to hold nesting materials together.

11. The Rufus Hummingbird flies 6,000 miles from central Mexico to South Alaska for breading. Before embarking on their trip they double their weight by storing fat to ensure they have enough energy to make the flight.

12. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird flies over the Gulf of Mexico, 500 miles non-stop, on their trip from Panama to the eastern US two times per year.

13.  A group of hummingbirds is called a choir.

Watch this PBS video for more fun and interesting facts about hummingbirds – Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air

hummingbird clip artMake a hummingbird feeder with the kids: This simple hummingbird feeder costs pennies to make —

Things you’ll need:

  • Clean empty plastic water/soda/or similar bottle with screw on lid
  • Clean empty plastic tub with snug fitting lid (we used a Hummus container)
  • hole punch
  • scissors
  • paints or markers
  • small bright colored artificial flowers (optional)
  • any other desired embellishments
  • glue gun
  • twine or wire for hanging

Instructions:

  1. Wash containers and remove labels.
  2. Cut a hole in the lid of the plastic tub just large enough to fit snugly over the threaded neck of the bottle
  3. Using a hole punch make four evenly spaced holes around the plastic tub lid
  4. Punch a small hole in the middle of the water bottle lid
  5. Draw, paint, or glue bright colored flower petals around the holes
  6. If desired paint flowers or other designs on the water bottle
  7. Insert water bottle neck through the hole in the lid and screw on bottle lid to hold in place
  8. Attach tub bottom to tub lid
  9. Attach wire or twine to bottle for hanging

Simple as that!!

Hummingbird Collage Feeder 2Recipe for hummingbird food:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • Heat on stove until sugar is dissolved and water is clear
  • Let cool before pouring into feeder

To fill the simple feeder above remove tub lid from bottom and unscrew bottle lid. Fill with sugar water. Screw bottle lid back onto bottle. Attach bottom of plastic tub and invert. The sugar water from the bottle should fill the plastic tub and continue to feed into the tub as needed.

The feeder should be cleaned and the sugar water should be replaced every 2-4 days.

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