Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) are the most widely ranging of the world’s hummingbirds, all of which nest ONLY in the Western Hemisphere. It is the only kind of hummingbird that is native to Manitoba.
The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is often found in the ecotome, or the edge, between woodland and meadow. In this habitat the birds are close to the mature trees in which they typically nest, as well as near a profusion of flowering plants that supply nectar and support small insects, both of which make up this hummingbird’s diet. It can adapt well to human development, but only if there is adequate shelter, space, and food. For this reason, there are steps you can take to encourage these birds to visit your garden.
Hummingbirds primarily rely on nectar from plants, where they may also be eating tiny insects and spiders, both of which are excellent sources of protein for the bird. The nectar they drink provides the energy they need to catch bugs. A great idea is to plant a hummingbird garden using plants that naturally attract them and provide food and shelter.
Hummingbirds will often make use of the sugar water from your feeders as a source of quick energy. Purchase a nectar feeder specifically designed for hummingbirds. These come in many different designs. All types can attract hummingbirds, so the style you choose is up to you. The main thing you may want to consider is ease of cleaning.
Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned every few days to prevent fermentation or bacteria build-up, so keep this in mind when choosing yours. Every time you fill your feeder you should thoroughly rinse it with hot tap water. Do not top-up or add new food into old. Once a month soak your feeder in a mixture of ¼ cup bleach and 4 litres of water for one hour. Use a scrub brush if necessary to remove any build-up inside the feeder. Then rinse and refill with fresh syrup. Bleach is safe and effective, but if you are concerned about using it you may use full-strength white vinegar instead.
There are commercial nectar mixtures that you can buy at our garden store. You can mix your own nectar syrup very easily- simply mix one part white cane sugar to four parts water. This mixture can be kept for up to two weeks in the fridge.
Hummingbird feeders are meant to be hung. Place them in a location where it is convenient for you to refill as well as view your new guests. They are best if also located out of the wind and in the shade. You may want to try a few feeders in different locations to see what your visitors prefer.
Be sure that you hang your feeder before the hummingbirds return in the spring! This is usually before May 1st.
Good Plants for a Hummingbird Garden
Hummingbirds are more likely to be attracted to plants that are in areas protected from heavy winds. They are mainly attracted to plants that are red and orange. They are also attracted to pink, scarlet, and purple flowers. They are specially adapted to feed from plants that have tubular or trumpet shaped flowers.
- Canna Lily
- Morning Glory
- Snap Dragon
- Alcea, common name Hollyhock
- Aquilegia, common name Columbine
- Asclepias, common name Bleeding Flower
- Buddleia, common name Butterfly Bush
- Campsis, common name Trumpet Vine
- Dicentra, common name Bleeding Heart
- Hemerocallis, common name Daylily
- Heuchera, common name Coral Bells
- Lobelia, common name Cardinal Flower
- Lonicera, common name Honeysuckle
- Lychnis, common name Maltese Cross
- Monarda, common name Bee Balm
- Penstemon, common name Beardtongue
- Phlox paniculata, common name Garden Phlox
- Polygonatum, common name Solomon’s Seal
- Betula, common name Birch
- Malus, common name Apple/Crabapple
- Salix, common name Willow