Hummingbird Habitat

Guidelines on Creating a Hummingbird Habitat

            Hummingbirds are intriguing creatures that many people wish to attract to their yards, a feat that requires adapting the yard to a welcoming hummingbird habitat.  Fortunately, most areas in North and South America have the climates and biomes that are conducive to the lives of this tiny rapid flyer.

            One of the smallest birds in existence on the planet, the hummingbird family consists of over 300 different types.  This makes this species the second largest species in the Western Hemisphere.  The majority of the species can be found in the South and Central American regions where the climate is favorable for long blooming, nectar filled flowers.  However, there are a vast variety of areas that draw these miniscule feathered friends; mountains, deserts, forests and jungles.  Hummingbirds vary in appearance; mostly drab colored feathers cover the body while bright purples, royal reds, dazzling greens and brilliant blues decorate the head and neck areas of different types.  One feature that all hummingbirds have in common is the thin, elongated beak, designed specifically to extract sweet nectar from trumpet shaped flowers.  The largest of the species is the Patagona gigas, measuring approximately eight inches, while the one called the Bee Hummingbird is the smallest, weighing in a less an ounce. 

            Several characteristics set this bird apart from any other.  The hummingbird is the only bird capable of hovering for long periods of time and flying straight up in the air.  Speeds of up to 30 miles per hour are averaged in a straight flight, and the diving speeds of up to 60 miles per hour are common.  It is the fascinating flying patterns and the rapid flying speed that makes this tiny bird a desirable addition to any yard.  People can sit mesmerized at their window or in their yards for hours, watching the hummingbirds as they flit from flower to flower.  Enjoying this sight is as simple as making the yard a welcoming and safe place for the hummingbirds to live; in other words, creating a hummingbird habitat.

            There are a few crucial steps to make your yard into the type of habitat that hummingbirds seek.  Brightly colored flowers containing tasty nectar will provide part of their diet; plants such as trumpet flowers, beebalm, cardinal flowers, red columbine, Indian pinks, hollyhocks, fuchsia, verbena and coral bells are a few to get started.  An important feature when planting is to choose plants that bloom at varying times of the year to supply a constant source of nectar.  Hummingbirds also eat a variety of small insects, so avoid using any pesticides in the garden that will eliminate this important protein source for the birds.  Water is equally essential; offering shallow water receptacles and misting systems for both drinking and bathing is beneficial.

            In addition to foods, a hummingbird habitat must offer places of rest.  Providing shrubs and trees of varying heights create inviting areas for the birds to perch, preen and nest.  It also brings the opportunity for the hummingbird to enjoy sun areas and shady locations.  Feel free to set up a comfortable viewing area for yourself in the midst of all of this activity; the hummingbird can be a very sociable creature once it is used to your presence.  There are many reports of the tiny bird drinking nectar directly from a human’s hand, or investigating a brightly colored piece of apparel to see if there is any nectar value there. 

            Creating a hummingbird habitat serves two purposes; it provides a home for the birds that supports all of their needs, and it offers the homeowner a fascinating and hypnotizing glimpse into the lives of these tiny creatures.




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