Last Week we had the good fortune to be able to attend a local (and free) seminar on Colorado hummingbirds. We love the little guys’ spring thru fall invasion at our house. I will tell you that it’s been basically blind luck and some trial and error on the success we’ve had in attracting the volume of visitors we see year over year. There are many a summer days when folks walking by our house ask what our secret is to attracting so many hummingbirds. We gladly share the nectar “formula” as we believe there are plenty of the little guys to go around!
We took away a few excellent pieces of advise from the speaker, Richard Holliday, who has done loads of research over the years using a wide variety of sources and lots of person experience. I thought I’d share the facts and wisdom we heard.
1. While there are 315 species of hummingbirds in the world almost all are in the western hemisphere.
2. Of those 315, the USA only sees about 20!
3. Of those 20 Colorado typically only sees 4: The Broadtail, Rufous, Calliope and Black Chinned. (He noted there are exceptions so keep a lookout!)
4. Hummingbirds will migrate to Colorado about April 15th.
5. A hummingbird heart beats about 1200 beats per minute. Wings flap about 3600 per minute.
Feeding the little guys has various theories. I’ve seen this one more than once. 1 part sugar to 4 parts water (Do Not Use Honey). We make ours closer to 1 parts sugar to 3 parts water. One other theory is that you have more sugar density at first until they get used to coming to your house and then you can back off a little. The important thing is to boil the sugar into the water for a few minutes so no sugar particles are visible. Make sure you cool it before setting outside. You can store excess nectar for a 3-4 days in the refrigerator. We use the larger canning jars, but a thermos, for plastic container will also work.
Hummingbird hints we learned at the seminar!
If you see bees are attracted to your feeder, make sure you don’t have any of those little yellow flowers on them! Man, I sure had that problem last year! The solution is to either remove the flowers or take some red nail polish or red paint and cover all the yellow!!!
Put red coloring in the nectar? First, they don’t need it. Second, the red feeder is enough to attract them. Third, some folks say the red is not good for them. I’ve also read the hummingbirds just prefer it without the red.
When to remove the feeders? Rumor has it that the birds won’t migrate if you continue to feed them. (That’s what we always thought!) No so, said Richard and I’ve since verified with other sources! The hummingbirds will migrate when its time! Leaving your feeder up until they are gone for the season can be very lifesaving for late migrators!
Shortly, I’ll do another blog on what flowers attract hummingbirds and types of feeders that work for us. In the meantime, check out your local nurseries and bird feed/stores to learn if they are sponsoring any free seminars for your area.
Richard Holliday highly recommended Donald and Lillian Stokes book: The Hummingbird Book: The Complete Guide to Attracting, Identifying and Enjoying Hummingbirds.
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