It's spring at last, and here in Southern Colorado, it seems we've been waiting a long time to glimpse our favorite wild bird, the hummingbird. We just love watching these tiny, lithe creatures of such vivid color outside our window. There have been a couple summers here that we've had twenty different hummingbirds at our three feeders. We had to refill them every day just to keep up!
We're fortunate to have very good soil in our yard, while most of this part of the country is poor, rocky soil. This makes growing perennials easier and more bountiful. I say easier because we are in a high-desert climate and must water constantly to keep things green.
Those two things: certain flowers, and running the sprinkler system help attract the hummingbirds to our yard. With their specially designed beaks and long tongues, they just love the flowers suited to their anatomy. Our columbines, torch lilies and butterfly bushes are like giant billboards advertising a hummingbird-friendly play land.
We've tried to plant perennials that bloom at different times throughout the summer so that we always have something to attract the hummingbirds. What a difference it has made. We usually get to enjoy the hummingbirds at least a full month before they discover our next door neighbors yard.
While you may not need to run a sprinkler in the summer months like we must, you can install a fountain or bird bath that will attract just as many hummingbirds. They love the splash and spray of the water and we've seen them many times hovering and dipping over the nearby river where the water hits the rocks and sprays up.
Besides the flowers and water, we offer our hummingbirds feeders filled with sugar water. While you can purchase commercial food mix, it is less expensive to make your own at home and it's very simple to do. Here's the recipe:
- One part sugar
- Four parts water
- Boil for 2 minutes
- Cool and fill feeders made for hummingbirds
There is no need to add food coloring to the feed and it may actually be detrimental to the birds. Why take the chance?
A little trick we've learned over the years is to put a short piece of transparent tape around the stem that holds the bee guard in place. That way it keeps the larger, more aggressive birds like the Orioles from pulling out the bee guard and guzzling the food.
We've tried many different designs of feeders and found that the birds like the ones with hard plastic "flowers"' surrounding the bee guards. We've not had much luck with the drip-type feeders.
Be sure to rinse the feeders well with very warm water between use. It is not recommended to put any part of a hummingbird feeder in the dishwasher or use detergent. To make sure the feeders are perfectly clean before storing for the winter, we use a tiny bit of chlorine bleach and water. You must be sure to rinse the feeders very well if you do need to use bleach.
So if you're looking to attract beautiful hummingbirds to your yard, remember the flowers, the water and some food. You'll soon have your own flock of hummingbirds who return to your yard each year!