Feed them, and they will come

Whenever the weather is going to change for the worse, when the storm clouds build up and the  pressure falls, the hummingbirds flock torleyheader062314to the feeder.  They stack up, like planes above the airport waiting for the go for landing, then swoop down for a few sips of nectar and zip away.  We have plenty of plants that supply natural nectar, but something seems to warn them that serious rains and cooler air are on the way and they need to stock up on nutrients.  Since a  bird can visit 1,000 flowers a day in search of nectar, they must think that a feeder is heaven when the weather turns bad.   In the States, we had six species of humming birds, here there are dozens and each species is a jewel.

Attracting hummingbirds to your garden is fairly easy.  Plant the right flowers and shrubs, and they will find you.  The sanchezia is one, and it is a pleasure to look at as well as being good bird food.  The flowers are tubular and it takes a particular kind of bill to reach inside for nectar.

Hibiscus, with its deep-throated flowers, is another hummer favorite. Since they don’t have a set blooming season, the flowers are always available for snacks.  Abutilon, another of our tropical shrubs and a member of the mallow family, also attracts the birds.  Plant clerodendrums, like the java glory bower, and you are sure to find hummingbirds in your yard.  Justicia, a genus of over 400 species, are also great attractors of these birds.

But what about a smaller garden with more flowers than shrubs?  Cardinal flower, lobelia cardinalis, grows here as a roadside weed and is easily transplanted to the garden.  They reseed so they are an easy plant to grow and provide continual color in the garden and continuous nectar.  Fuchsia is another hummer favorite as is anisacanthus (desert honeysuckle or flame anisacanthus) which is native to the American tropics.  You are also likely to see hummers at your amaryllis and bird of paradise flowers.

Something you may notice about all these plants is that they produce brightly colored flowers in red, orange, and pink shades preferred by hummingbirds.  They are also often tubular an unusually shaped flower with a nectar reservoir.  So fill your yard with vibrant colors and certain shapes when you are planting and you are sure to attract hummingbirds. 

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