Monday, February 22, 2016

Get Ready for the Hummingbird Migration!

Extension Master Gardeners shared a great post with a map on Facebook today sharing the hummingbird migration routes. Here in south central Virginia, we can expect our little feathered friends to return to the area sometime around April 10th. That date isn't set in stone, however. Depending on the weather and I assume the birds themselves, the migration may be a little later or earlier.

Coming soon to a garden near you!


Why do hummingbirds migrate? Hummingbirds sip nectar from flowers and yes, hummingbird feeders, to fuel their incredibly high metabolisms.

Here are a few facts gardeners might like to know about hummingbirds:


  • Hummingbirds sip nectar from flowers, tree sap, and ingest tiny insects caught in nectar and sap.
  • Their wings beat 80 times a minute. Because of their rapid heartbeat and other factors, they eat a very high sugar diet, and eat frequently, to get enough calories to survive.
  • They can eat at a rate of 13 licks per second!
  • A hummingbird's nest is the size of a walnut.
  • Hummingbirds hover in place by moving their wings in a figure-8 patterns.

Plant Flowers to Support Hummingbird Migration
Planting flowers, shrubs and trees to help hummingbirds through their migration period as well as during breeding season and beyond is a great idea. Purdue's Cooperative Extension offers a free, downloadable fact sheet on how to attract and nurture hummingbirds in the garden.

You can plant several different species in your garden to help the hummingbirds. You don't have to create a special hummingbird garden. Simply work in a few shrubs and perennials among your existing plants to offer hummingbirds an enticement to stop and socialize.

Trees that appeal to hummingbirds include the Tulip Poplar, Ohio Buckeye and Horsechestnut trees.

Common rhododendron (purple) and azalea (white) attract hummingbirds.


Shrubs to attract hummingbirds:
  • Rhododendron spp. (Common Rhododendron and Azaleas)
  • Hibiscus moscheustos (Rose Mallow)
  • Clethra spp. (Pepperbush)
Columbine attracts hummingbirds.


Perennials to attract hummingbirds include:
  • Aquilegia canadensis (Columbine)
  • Phlox spp. (Phlox)
  • Monarda spp. (Bergamot, Bee-Balm)
  • Lobelia cardinalas (Cardinal flower)

Vines:
  • Campis radicans (Trumpet Creeper)
  • Passiflora spp. (Passionflower)


Nectar bird feeders are, of course, a fun way to easily feed hummingbirds. But when you add plants to your garden to help hummingbirds, you also help other pollinators such as butterflies, bees and many other insects.

So here's to the return of spring...and the return of hummingbirds to the area. It's coming soon and spring is just around the corner!



3 comments:

  1. You have a great blog, and I'm always happy to read a fellow Virginian. I love your rhododendron photo.

    Just a quick note that hummingbird's wings beat 80 times a second.

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