I figure this weekend it's time to put out the hummingbird feeders.
The tiny flying jewels should be showing up any minute now after their winter migration to the south.
I saw a fascinating program on hummingbirds on the National Geographic Channel last night. One of the interesting things I learned is that the metabolism of hummingbirds is so high that they have to eat every 15 minutes and risk dying if they go much longer than that without eating. This means that even sleeping at night can be risky, so they significantly slow their metabolism in order to sleep.
This also explains why they're so territorial about their food sources, and why they remember where the reliable food sources are.
No wonder they so quickly find feeders we hang up in our yards, and why they return every year to the same place.
In recent years, worried that sugar-water is not sufficient nutrition for the hummers, I've been trying to add more flowers that are hummingbird favorites. I'd really like to have flowers in the yard that they can enjoy from the time they arrive until the time they leave in the fall.
One of the best things I did a couple of years ago was to add a Major Wheeler honeysuckle vine to a fence near the feeder. This is a gorgeous twining vine just loaded with red trumpet-shaped flowers, which are exactly what hummingbirds look for. It blooms most of the summer and is not invasive like typical honeysuckle. I would also like to add a trumpet vine this year.
Hummers really like the butterfly bush and the Rose of Sharon. I haven't had much luck yet growing perennial flowers that attract hummingbirds, such as bee balm, columbine, and penstemon, but I will keep trying. This year I also want to put out annuals that hummers like, such as lantana, petunia, and salvia.
We enjoy the sugar-water feeder on the side of the house so much that this year I'm adding a second one to the front of the house so we can watch from the front window. We've seen contests at the existing feeder, so maybe adding another one will allow more hummingbirds to move in.
I was amazed to see in that National Geographic program last night that when the ruby-throated hummingbirds (which are the only kind that live in our area) migrate in the fall, they stop by the thousands in Rockport, Texas, prior to flying across the Gulf of Mexico to winter homes. People in Rockport hang out hundreds of sugar-water feeders, and the little birds gorge themselves before beginning their awesome journey. If you go online, you can look up the Rockport Hummingbird Festival to see great videos of hundreds of hummingbirds at the feeders. That would be an amazing thing to experience sometime.
Hummingbirds are fascinating little critters. I really look forward to their return in the spring.