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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hummingbirds need more than nectar, especially for migration.



Feeding clear nectar to hummingbirds is a given. It mimics the sugary nectar they'd naturally get from flowers. But diets of pure nectar lack much-needed protein, and most species regularly consume small insects in addition to nectar. So a yard with several nectar feeders, but no insects, might be avoided. It could lack the protein-rich insects that hummingbirds need to consume with nectar.
Sometimes, insects are feed to nestlings, which need the protein to grow. Now however, just prior to the long, arduous migratory flight, is when all hummers crave insects the most. It gives them the long-lasting energy they need.
Our hummingbirds eat various insects, from tiny mites and gnats, to small


spiders. They use many foraging techniques, including gleaning them from surfaces of the feeders themselves. Mostly, however, insects are plucked from the air, mid-flight by the agile, speedy birds.
 
 
Don’t look for one in Europe       Hummingbirds are found only in the western hemisphere; basically North, Central and South America. It excludes Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia (and Antarctica). They’ll leave here, migrating to Central America, about early September. When they’ve left, clean your nectar feeders thoroughly and put them away for next year. (One species, the Rufous Hummingbird, which migrates south from the Alaska area, could stay here all winter.) Just to be safe we leave one nectar feeder up for a few weeks, for any migrators from up north that may be passing through.

 
 
    OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus living and practicing in north Texas. He is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at Yost87@charter.net in Denton.

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