Although a small portion of their diet consists of insects, hummingbirds are best known as insectivores, birds that feed on flower nectar.
Attracting hummingbirds to your yard can be as easy as hanging up a hummingbird feeder. Once attracted, chances are they will continue to return as long as the feeder is clean and filled with adequate nourishment.
While the bright red color of a hummingbird feeder often attracts hummingbirds, a properly landscaped yard, filled with a hummingbirds favorite plants, often serves as a better attraction.
The top picture, for example, shows a trumpet vine flower. While it is not a red color, the trumpet vine, along with a variety of flowering vines, attract hummingbirds.
Consider, for example, that a yard filled with flowering plants provides much more color than a feeder, and therefore a more eye catching environment.
Keeping hummingbirds in the yard throughout the season means choosing hummingbird plants that bloom from spring through fall, the traditional hummingbird season in most areas.
Western hummingbird diversity means that the native species naturally evolved to time their spring and fall migrations to match the availability of food sources.
Native western plants such as Bleeding Heart, Claret Cup Cactus, Indian Plum and Red-flowering Current bloom from early to late spring and have been tested as tried and true hummingbird favorites.
A stroll past any group of lilac bushes provides an easy answer to their popularity. The look and scent of lilac pleases just about everyone's sense of style and scent.
Lilacs come in a variety of colors, however, none of them are native North American species. The Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), from Europe, is the most widespread introduced species, growing wild in most of the northern portions of the country.
Asian species are increasing in popularity, providing consumers with additional color and fragrance choices.
Traditionally lilacs bloom late. Those planted in mountain areas can bloom as late as summer.
Picture two shows a July hummingbird and lilac scene. The plant is a hummingbird favorite from coast to coast.
Honeysuckle, pictured three, Scarlet Gilia, and Western Columbine, also summer flowering plants and shrubs favored by hummingbirds, grow hardily in the West.
When fall approaches, hummingbirds flock to Bee balm, Dahlia, Fuchsia, and Spotted Jewelweed.
The list is not comprehensive, so check with your local extension service or favorite nursery for additional suggestions.
Residents of the Southeast and Texas easily recognize the bright red flowers of the Turk's Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus).
It's a flowering shrub in the Mallow family (Malvaceae) that grows easily in a variety of soil types, in both shady areas and sunny spots.
The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Autumn Sage (Salvia Greggii) a small, native flowering shrub of Texas, produces brilliant red flowers inviting to many hummingbirds and butterflies.
Suited for both arid and humid southern climates from Florida to California, it thrives in sunny areas in USDA zones 7-10.
In areas within close proximity to zone 7, it may be adaptable to a large container home on a sunny patio. The plant grows up to three feet tall and wide, requiring a suitably large container.
© 2008-2011. Patricia A. Michaels