Memorial Day: Hosting a Gathering for Hummingbirds

MAY 27

Happy Memorial Day! Over the weekend, you probably fired up your grills, swept off porches and decks, spruced up gardens, opened pools and mixed pitchers of lemonade, all in preparation for the season that lends itself to hosting outdoor fun and merriment. While entertaining family and friends this summer, you can be the "hostess with the mostess" by catering to one of nature's fanciest, fluttering guests: the hummingbird. Hummingbirds, often mistaken for the sphinx moth, are a joy to see in the garden. Evolutionary history has ensured that the hummingbird maintains a special place in the garden: Instead of wings with movable joints, hummingbirds have only one joint at the shoulder, allowing for flexible, powerful and rapid strokes. Likewise, plants have evolved ways to specifically encourage hummingbirds to feed on their nectar. Because hummingbirds are extremely active, they have high calorie requirements. They must visit hundreds of flowers daily to take in the necessary nectar for carbohydrates and insects for protein. Once you understand their needs, hosting this pollinator can be as easy as it is rewarding.

As guests go, hummingbirds are not shy; they will fearlessly enter residential areas to feed and nest close to homes. Just like guests at a backyard barbeque, hummingbirds appreciate bright, festive colors as they like their food sources to be easily accessible and highly visible. Looking out a window, even at a close distance, hummingbirds can be spotted feeding on their favorite sugary sweets, including petunias, salvia, fuchsia, foxglove, honeysuckle, iris, coral bell, summersweet, trumpet vine and more. To further entice them, offer a sugar-water mixture in a hummingbird feeder hung from a porch, deck, patio, lamppost or tree branch. Once you put out all the right goodies, your garden's banquet will be a gathering to hum about!