Have you ever witnessed the tiny wings
of an exquisite hummingbird in flight?
Or marveled at its incredible acrobatic
ability to fly backward or forward,
to hover, or to ascend vertically at
A hummingbirds’ wings can rotate
180 degrees, either up, down, forward,
or back. Their wings beat about 80 times
per second during regular flight. Miraculously,
this speed increases to a mere 200 times
per second when the male hummingbird
performs his display dive. When resting,
hummingbirds take 250 breaths per minute!
If this isn't amazing enough, imagine
some of these miniature winged creatures,
the Ruby-throated hummingbird in particular,
flying 500 miles nonstop across the
Gulf of Mexico to overwinter in Georgia
and other parts of the country. Ruby-throat
hummingbirds weigh in at about three
grams, and their eggs are about the
size of a large pinto bean.
Is it any wonder that these unique
garden acrobats have captivated the
attention of both hummingbird gardeners
and “watchers” for centuries?
Planting a hummingbird garden is a
great way to capture the birds on film
or video, and makes a much nicer backdrop
for your photos than just the typical
Do Hummingbirds Eat?
What do these resplendent little creatures
dine on? How can you best attract them
to your backyard garden?
Like butterflies, hummingbirds receive
most of their energy requirements from
the sweet nectar found in the blossoms
of flowers. They also ingest small spiders
or soft insects they spy on the leaves
of plants, providing them with protein.
Another source of nectar often found
by hummingbirds is in feeders containing
a simple sugar water mixture. Would
you believe that a single hummer needs
the nectar of approximately 1,000 blossoms
each and every day to sustain life?
Bros. Nursery is now stocking
the 'BEST 1' hummingbird feeder.The
16 oz hummingbird feeder is a
product of many years of experimenting
and field testing to provide the
best hummingbird feeder on the
market today for the least investment
to you. Extremely easy to fill
A word of caution
is in order if you use feeders alone
or in a garden as a nectar supplement.
Nectar feeders need to be cleaned at
least every other day during the hot
summer months. Otherwise, the sugar
will ferment and could cause deadly
salmonella poisoning to hummingbirds.
Plants Hummingbirds Like
There are many varieties of flowering
plants in North America that attract
hummingbirds. Here, we will be focusing
on growing the plants
hummingbirds like in Georgia.
It is essential to keep in mind that
hummers prefer tubular flowers that
allow their long, needle-like bills
to fit inside these tubes. Thus, their
tongues can easily lap up the sweet
nectar found deep inside the flower
tubes. We will primarily be focusing
on perennial plants here, however there
are many annuals, shrubs, and trees
that also attract and are good sources
of food and shelter for hummingbirds.
& Designing Your Hummingbird Garden
One good way to enjoy the company of
hummingbirds is planting a hummingbird
garden. In addition to providing them
a natural diet, a hummer garden is an
excellent way to attract birds to your
nearby feeder: since hummingbirds feed
by sight on regularly-followed routes
- called traplining - their inquisitive
nature will quickly lead them to investigate
any possible new source of food.
The perfect hummingbird habitat is
a simple one, and even the smallest
garden can provide the food, water,
perches, shelter and nesting sites that
hummingbirds need. It's easy to lure
these beautiful birds into your backyard
- and keep them coming back year after
- If you are creating your hummingbird
garden from scratch, you should consider
planting a mix of perennials, annuals,
shrubs, trees, and vines. Hummingbirds
are very adept at sipping nectar from
any or all these plant groups. Since
perennials take several years to mature,
plant a variety of your favorite annuals
as fillers the first year. With such
a large assortment to choose from, you
won’t have a problem choosing
those plants that will thrive the best.
Bird Of Paradise, Browalia, Fuschia,
Geraniums, Impatiens, Pentas, Salvias,
Spider Flower (Cleome),
and Zinnias to name a few.
- There are many perennials and
vines that will return year after
year to feed our friendly hummingbirds.
Bee Balm (Monarda), shown
to the left is one of many hummingbird
magnets that do well in the south.
Shape & Location
- An important consideration when designing
your hummingbird garden is its shape
and where it will be located. Sites
that receive all day sun or morning
sun with afternoon shade are preferred.
Curved, narrow flower beds are best,
because hummers can access the blooms
from all sides of the plants. Plant
your garden near decks, patios, porches
or just outside windows of your home
so you can view them in action, up close.
Hummingbird Garden Designs
Don’t crowd your garden with
large trees or shrubs, but do arrange
to have several in or near the garden.
Hummingbirds need room to accommodate
their wings as they whir about the blossoms.
Select a variety of levels of flowers,
trees, or shrubs, from low to medium
to tall in height. Male hummers like
to have tall trees to perch on, as they
use them to watch for predators while
the females are feeding.
If you plan carefully and select a
variety of plants that flower at successively
later dates, you will be rewarded with
hummers throughout the season.
- Hummingbirds don’t depend upon
scent to locate nectar, but are attracted
most often to brightly colored flowers,
especially red. This is why hummingbird
feeders are primarily red. There is
a huge selection of hummingbird feeders
on the market today, and new ones are
always being designed. When buying a
hummingbird feeder, as with anything
else, you often get what you pay for.
to worry. Leaving feeders out will NOT
prevent hummingbirds from migrating.
Conversely, removing feeders will NOT
convince birds to migrate! Hummingbirds
migrate when their hormones tell them
to, and generally after they've fattened
up for the trip. If they're not ready
to leave, they will just search for
food elsewhere -- removing your feeder
doesn't do them any favors... Furthermore,
if you have a feeder out in Kentucky,
rest assured that a western hummingbirds
do not fly to your home all the way
from Idaho just because your feeder
is still out. Feeders simply bring into
view some birds that are already in
Sources - In addition
to food sources, convenient perching
opportunities will make your yard more
hospitable to hummingbirds, since they
spend around 80% of their time sitting
on twigs, leaf stems, clotheslines,
etc., between feeding forays and sorties
against trespassing rivals.
Hummingbirds! If you
said that phrase a few years ago, most
folks would think you were crazy, and
those living east of the Mississippi
River would think you were talking about
a sick Ruby-throated. But hummingbirds
aren't the feeble waifs people once
thought; significant numbers of several
western species survive in the eastern
US each winter. The most common are
Rufous Hummingbirds, with over a thousand
now reported annually. Most are noticed
at feeders after Ruby-throateds have
departed. They can, and have, occurred
in every eastern state, often annually.
If you want to increase the odds of
seeing a winter hummingbird, keep fresh
nectar (3 or 4:1, water:white table
sugar) in at least one feeder all winter.
It also helps if your garden is chock
full of hummingbird flowers (at least
until frost!) and your yard has lots
of "cover," such as evergreens
Your Hummingbird Garden
There are different methods for planting
hummingbird perennials in the garden.
For Planting Perennials to find
the way we like to plant them. Some
folks say its best to till up the
entire garden area, however, we've
found that this usually brings lots
of buried weeds seeds to the surface
and also promotes invasiveness of
certain types of perennials. Of course
you can till the entire area if you
like. We prefer not to disturb all
the soil surface in the garden. Instead
we do the following:
Plot the perimeter
of the garden out with marker paint,
flour or a garden hose.
Spray to kill any
existing weeds or grass with Killzall
Super Concentrate. You'll have to
wait a week or so to make sure the
weeds have been killed. Respray
if necessary. For tough to kill
grass such as burmuda, you should
use Over-The-Top spray by Fertilome.
While waiting the
week or so for the weeds to die
use the time to develop a plan by
investigating what type of perennials,
other plants, feeders, and fixtures
you will want to use in your garden.
While investigating make sure to
write down a list of plants that
you like. Note height and width
so that you will know how to space
them in the garden.
Once all the weeds
are dead run over the area with
a lawn mower or weed eater to cut
down and remove dead growth. Now
you are ready to begin planting.
- Before planting, arrange the perennials
and any other plants or trees you
have purchased in garden: placing
taller varieties (48"' + height)
towards the back (Center if the garden
will be viewed from all sides). Place
mid-size plants (18-48' height) in
front or nestled bewteen taller ones.
(Ouside and around taller plants in
gardens that will be viewed from all
sides.) Place lower plants at the
fround or along the outside edge of
- NOTE: When setting
the plants out in the bed make sure
to space them properly. If a perennial
grows 18 inches wide mark out a circle
on the ground with an 18" diameter
(orange marker paint works great for
doing this.) Set the plant in the
center of the circle. After placing
all of the plants step back to take
When you are satisfied
that everything is in place, remove
one plant at a time from its container
and plant it. For planting, dig
holes three times or more as wide
as the container the plant came
in. Mix in an good composted soil
ammendment such as Claycutter or
mushroom compost at a 50/50 ratio
with the soil removed from the hole.
Add a little Bloom Start flower
fertilzer to the mix.
Give your newly
planted perennials and other plants
a good soaking when you've finished
- Mulch the garden with pinestraw
or wood mulch. We prefer wood mulch
at 2 inches deep.
Make sure you check
every day for a period of two weeks
to see if plants need water.
The base of your perennial hummingbird
garden is now complete. Remember,
the first year, you might want to
plant some annuals here and there
in the garden for extra-added color.
Your Hummer Garden
Care of the Garden -
Your garden will need attention throughout
the growing season. Weed control and
provision for adequate moisture are
two important cultural necessities.
When rainfall is less than 1 inch per
week, provide additional moisture to
the plants that are not drought tolerant.
(You will be happy to find that many
of the perennials in our Perennials
For Hummingbirds listing are extremely
drought tolerant, while others prefer
mosture retentive soils.)
The use of a mulch is
an attractive and effective means of
controlling weeds and maintaining constant
soil moisture and temperature for the
root systems of your plants. Mulches
that you might consider include bark
chips or shredded bark. To be effective,
the mulch should be applied at least
2 inches deep around the plants.
- Fertilize your annual and
perennial plants about every 6 to 8
weeks during the growing season with
a good granular flower food such as
Bloom Start. Fertilize shrubs and trees
as recommened here.
If you make
your own compost you can substitute
or ammend fertilizer with the compost.
Discontinue fertilization of perennials
in late summer to allow the plants to
go into dormancy during fall.
and Deadheading - You
may deadhead (remove spent or faded
flowers) all season long. Deadheading
often encourages the development of
In late fall or early
winter, when your perennials have died
back, you may remove dead foliage. WARNING:
Do not prune back Lantanas in the Fall,
doing so will ensure death of the plant.
Wait until spring when new growth begins
to emerge to prune back Lantanas. At
this time prune them back to just above
where new growth has emerged.
After cutting back dead
foliage in late fall or winter you may
want to winterize your perennial garden
by applying an inch or two of loose
mulch or compost over the perennials.
As with butterfly
gardening, DON’T use pesticides
on your hummingbird plants! They can
be deadly to hummingbirds if sprayed
directly onto your flowers. Instead,
select organic pest
control substances to help control unwanted
pests will also eliminate the small
insects hummingbirds rely upon for protein.
Remember: if you wouldn't eat it yourself,
don't feed it to a hummingbird! (Well,
maybe not the bugs...)
Notice that we sometimes use the term
Hummingbird Habitat rather than "Hummingbird
Garden." A garden may contain just
a few nectar-producing plants, while
a Hummingbird Habitat includes all types
of hummingbird flowers (herbaceous plants,
vines, shrubs, and trees of varied heights
and bloom dates) and provides space
for hummingbirds to nest and locations
in which they can roost and find shelter
from the elements. The well-designed
Hummingbird Habitat also includes several
properly maintained feeders and a water
element such as a mister in which hummingbirds
can bathe. The most effective Hummingbird
Habitats attract and nurture tiny insects
and spiders that hummingbirds use as
sources for fats and proteins.
Happy planning and planting!
Get your camera ready for a deluge of
hummers AND butterflies to photograph.
Q: When should I hang my feeder?
A: View the hummingbird
Q: What should I put in my feeder? Should
I add red dye? What about ants and bees?
A: The best thing we have found is a
mixture of 1/2 cup evaporated organic
cane sugar, or raw cane sugar to 3-4
cups of hot water. Allow to cool and
Q: How long before the eggs hatch?
A: 2 to 3 weeks. The chicks will leave
the nest about 3 weeks later.
Q: Help! I found an injured / orphaned
A: See this page.
Q: How fast do hummingbirds flap their
A: For small hummers like Ruby-throated,
about 55 times per second. Normal flight
speed is about 25 MPH.
Q: How long do hummingbirds live?
A: About 4 years on average. The record
Q: Do hummingbirds migrate on the backs
A: In a word, no.
Q: Did I see a baby hummingbird? It
was very small and had stripes/spots/antennae.
A: This is a type of moth that resembles
a hummingbird. Looks more like a colorful
flying crawfish to us.
Q: Why do my hummers seem so hateful?
All they do is fight.
A: They are extremely territorial. More
feeders, out of sight of each other,
Q: Do you have plans for a hummer house?
A: Hummers won't use a house.
Q: When should I take my feeder down?
A: Hummingbirds migrate in response
to changing length of daylight, not
the availability of food. Taking your
feeder down is not required.
Q: Can I tell how many hummers I have
by the amount of syrup they consume?
A: Not with wild hummingbirds, because
you can't know how much they're eating
elsewhere. Instead, just count the most
you can see at once, then multiply by
four. That's as accurate as any other
Q. Wat kind of hummingbirds come to
A. Ruby-throated, Rufous, Black-chinned,
Magnificent, Allen's, Broad-tailed,
More Information abot Hummingbirds: