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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Increasing the number of Hummingbirds in your yard

There's something about seeing a Hummingbird that makes people all excited and giggly. If this sort of thing results from seeing just one or two of these amazing little birds, imagine the pure joy a seeing many more in your yard. Here’s how that can happen;

Put up more than one feeder – First, there should be enough spots for Hummingbirds to sip nectar without waiting in line. Put up enough feeders for the number of Hummingbirds you could have, not just the number that you have today. Sometimes, a “bully” tries to scare others away. If you have enough feeding places available, however, the bully is outmaneuvered – less-aggressive ones will like hanging out in your yard.

Keep nectar fresh – Fresh nectar attracts them, and stale or moldy nectar repels them. If they get a sip of stale nectar at your house, they won’t bring fledglings or friends by. They’ll go elsewhere themselves, too. Nectar gets stale quickly on a super-hot Texas day. We change nectar every 6 or 7 days during spring and fall. But when it’s really hot, we’ll go to every other day. Adding food coloring has never been proven to work, and will probably hasten nectar’s staleness by introducing microscopic bits of mold.

Plant hummer plants – Hummingbirds look for nectar from flowers in addition to feeders. Think of a mass of flowers as a form of feeder. All plants produce nectar, but some plants have a lot sweeter nectar than others. These give “more bang for the buck” in the form of energy for the Hummingbird. They know this, and are drawn to these plants (so are butterflies) and they encourage their youngsters to feed there.

Water source – Just like humans, Hummingbirds need something to drink with meals. Clean water is ideal. Water from a hose-run dripper or mister on a birdbath is ideal (a dripping faucet works too). They’ll use it to drink, to bathe, and just to play in. Make sure a birdbath is shallow enough (1.5 inches for small birds) since, like many humans, they avoid deep water.

          Follow these guidelines and it’s a safe bet the number of Hummingbirds in your yard will grow. The main reason is that the parents almost always bring youngsters back to eat, bathe etc. where they were raised. That could be your yard, assuming it’s a healthy and safe environment.