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Build Your Own Hummingbird Feeder

May 1, 2014

Our pollinator pals are back this season to help our gardens grow healthy! Keystone pollinators are pivotal in maintaining balance and diversity: butterflies, moths, bees, beetles, wasps, and other insects are all members of an outdoor ecology, which determines the livelihood of the garden. Learn more about these insects and the native plants they like here. While all pollinator species are important, remember to look out for our ornithological pollinators, birds! The most notable are hummingbirds, and they are as elusive as they are beautiful.

HummingbirdHummingbirds are migratory, visiting the northern United States during the spring and summer months before fueling up for their long journey back south. These 3-4 inch miniature helicopters travels so fast, at an average of 25 mph, we often miss them! They are acrobatic with the ability to fly up, down and backwards all while flapping their wings up to 55 times per second!

Hummingbirds, as with all pollinators, are integral to garden systems. This is especially true when planting a pollinator garden adjacent to or intermingled with your vegetable garden. These types of plantings are beneficial for both the grower and the pollinator. Strategically planting flowers amongst or surrounding vegetables and fruits will not only provide the necessary energy for these hummingbirds and other keystone pollinators, but will increase the quality and quantity of your harvest. Hummingbirds also eat pest insects that can be problematic for veggie gardens. So be sure to plant flowers that will attract these beautiful, iridescently- feathered friends.

When planting for hummingbirds, it is important to consider the shape, color and origin of the plant.  Trumpet-shaped flowers and the color red are best suited for hummingbirds.  Native flowers to include in your planting include: Bee balm (Monarda), Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Azalea, and Sage (Salvia).

Other options to help keep the hummingbirds coming back during the warm months would be to make your own bird feeder! Commercial feeders can be purchased but you can make one, too. If you are able and feeling creative, build your own! Here’s how:

Recycle a 1 or 2 liter bottle:

  1. Hang it upside down, so that the funnel shape naturally gathers liquid at the bottom.
  2. Insert two to three straws, no longer than one inch at 45⁰, facing upwards.
  3. Paint the bottle and include a red circle at the base of each straw to tell hummingbirds where to go!
  4. At the top of the bottle, be sure to create an opening you can funnel liquid into; be careful to ensure that this opening can be closed so that other pollinators aren’t tempted to go for a swim!

Imitate nectar by creating liquid syrup with sugar and water:

  1. Boil water and sugar with a 4:1 cup ratio
  2. Keep feeder filled and clean
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