By: Michelle Rauch
They can put on quite a show fluttering upside down, forward, and backwards at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. It’s the hummingbird. A backyard beauty I have yet to lay my eyes on at my house. Sure, I’ve tried to lure them in with the sweet nectar of a hummingbird feeder, but this is the third year in a row I’ve laid out the welcome mat for the hummingbirds, yet they still elude me. I have learned, I am to blame.
Timing is everything. The hummingbird migration begins around the first of April in Kentucky. You better be ready, because if you aren’t they will keep on moving. The best rule of thumb is to put your feeders out early. While I don’t recall when I put my feeder out that first year, I can bet it was too late. That was mistake number one.
Mistake number one was compounded by the fact I filled the feeder with nectar only once all summer. I cringe at the thought now. I was treating it like bird seed with no need to refill until it’s empty. WRONG. Common sense should’ve told me leaving sugar water out under the hot summer sun for the duration of the season is a recipe for icky. My sense is if, and that’s a big if, any hummingbird sipped on that nectar they fluttered away so fast and spread the word to avoid Rauch gardens at all costs. In all seriousness, my initial ignorance could have made the birds sick. The feeders need to be cleaned and refilled with fresh nectar every few days.
Last summer I was careful to put out fresh nectar regularly, and I moved the feeders (I added a second one) out of direct sunlight. No visitors. Thinking location was the issue I moved the feeders again (I’m up to three this year) to yet another location. Big mistake. Apparently hummingbirds are creatures of habit and they like their feeders in the same place year after year. Me oh my!
While their outstanding knack for remembering reliable food stops may be to my disadvantage, I am hoping with a lot of pre-planning I can create a hummingbird haven in my garden in time for next year. They are attracted to vibrant colors, namely red, as well as tubular flowers. From annuals to perennials, vines and bushes, hummingbirds are attracted to the following: azalea, butterfly bush, honeysuckle, lantana, morning glory, bee balm, columbine, day lilies, coral bells, foxglove, larkspur, lily, fuchsia, impatiens, petunia, geranium, and gladiolas. Fortunately, I have read they are an inquisitive little creature and are quick to sweep in on a new food source, so hopefully my previous missteps may be forgiven next year.
Now, if only the wildlife would find my yard as unappealing as hummingbirds have thus far. I’m talking to you dumb bunny, Mr. Possum, groundhog and anyone else who is nibbling on my homegrown goodness. Unlike the hummingbirds, these critters are not welcome.