Springtime brings bird watching galore. The flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing, and the hummingbirds are on the move. These tiny but mighty birds are some of our most fascinating avian neighbors. We love to see them in our gardens, zooming from flower to flower, humming whilst hovering midair, and sipping hummingbird food from our bright red feeders. Want to know more about these birds? Learn a few hummingbird facts so that you can share them with other bird lovers and start attracting hummingbirds to your yard this season.
Hummingbirds eat…a lot.
Hummingbirds eat every 15 minutes. They have to—have you seen how fast those wings move? Because of this, hummingbirds have been known to visit between 1,000 and 2,000 flowers every day. They have long tongues shaped like tubes, so the flowers they seek are often shaped similarly. Nectar makes up around 90 percent of the hummingbird diet, but they also eat small insects. (No, they don’t eat Hummingbird Cake, but we sure do.)
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Hummingbirds follow the flowers.
Because flowers are one of their main food sources, hummingbirds follow the blooming patterns and flowering seasons of their favorite plants. These birds are extremely mobile and move from region to region in pursuit of nectar. Their feet are only for perching, not for walking, so hummingbird wings get quite the workout. Hummingbirds’ wings average around 50 beats per second, but they can beat as quickly as 80 per second, hence the hum.
Hummingbirds have a few favorite colors.
It’s true. Hummingbirds are partial to the red end of the color spectrum. They are most attracted to native plants with tubular blooms in bright, fiery hues like red, orange and yellow. If you want to enjoy both bright colors and hummingbirds in your yard at the same time, try planting firebush.
Hummingbirds are tiny.
At 2 inches long and a fraction of an ounce, the bee hummingbird, a species native to Cuba, is the world’s smallest bird. The rest of the hummingbird species are larger, but not by much. These tiny fliers don’t let their size get them down, though. Hummingbirds are big travelers, constantly on the move, migrating across oceans and continents. Southerners will be familiar with the ruby-throated hummingbird, a frequent visitor in the Eastern and Midwestern United States.
You can attract hummingbirds to your yard.
What are the best ways to bring hummingbirds to your yard? You can prepare your own hummingbird feeder by filling the container with sugar water, an easy-to-prepare hummingbird food that provides the sweet stuff they need to keep humming. You can also help cultivate a hospitable habitat for hummingbirds. In your yard, plant the native species that hummingbirds love, like bee balm, cardinal flower, trumpet (or coral) honeysuckle, columbine, and hummingbird sage.
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Hummingbirds are territorial.
If you have a hummingbird feeder hanging in your window, you have most likely witnessed a hummingbird fight. Aggressive hummingbirds chase each other because they are rivals defending their food source (which, due to increased habitat destruction and habitat loss, can be few and far between). Food is serious business for these birds. So incorporate a few of the hummingbirds' favorite plants, shrubs, and vines into your yard or mix up some hummingbird food, and wait for those lightning-fast visitors to arrive.