Hints, Tips, and Tricks You Can Use
By Scott Meyer
Ruby-throated hummingbirds flock to tubular flowers, such as the ones on this trumpet vine. Right: The sphinx moth, a hummingbird look-alike, shares the same food preference.
Photograph by Svetlana Foote
When hummingbirds flash through your yard in summer, do you drop whatever you’re doing and watch? Ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris), the only species that is common in the mid-Atlantic region, buzz around gardens feeding on flower nectar from May to October. You can invite them to stick around with a few simple strategies, says Glenn Ashton, hummingbird enthusiast and head gardener at PHS Meadowbrook Farm.
Think red, orange, and pink
Hummers are drawn to flowers by their color rather than scent, and they are most attracted to the reddish end of the spectrum. Red Salvia and Penstemon varieties are very popular with the little birds, Ashton reports.
With long beaks and tongues, hummingbirds are equipped to sip nectar from deep tube-shaped flowers such as trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).
Many of the Philadelphia region’s indigenous species, such as columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) and trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), are pollinated primarily by hummingbirds.
Mix one part sugar with three parts water to create a solution that attracts hummingbirds in spring, Ashton advises. Then switch to a one-to-four ratio for the rest of the season. Put the feeder in full sun for spring and move it into light shade as the days heat up.
Bird or Moth?
Photo by Shutterstock
You see a small, hovering flier that has wings beating so fast you can hardly see them and is sipping nectar from a flower: Must be a hummingbird, right? Sphinx (or “hawk”) moths look and move so much like the birds that you might easily mistake them for the little flitters at first glance.