Hummingbirds: Tiny, Feisty, and Fun to Watch
We’re seeing hummingbirds with greater frequency around the garden. I suppose they are getting ready for their migration to southern Mexico and Central America, where they spend the winter.
One morning, I had just stepped out the front door when – voooom! – something very small whizzed past my head. I looked up to see one – no, two – Ruby-throated Hummingbirds having an aerial jousting match. After chasing off its rival, the victorious hummer proceeded to chase off a Monarch butterfly, and then a much larger Goldfinch.
In the front garden, the Ruby-throats feed mostly on the Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia), though I have also seen them drinking nectar from Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) and Golden Glow (Rudbeckia laciniata). Oddly, I have never seen them feeding on any of the Monardas, though these are supposed to be hummingbird favorites.
They also love some of the annuals growing in the front containers, especially Cigar Plant (Cuphea). They have a fondness for Star Flower (Pentas lanceolata) and all kinds of annual Salvias.
It’s so much fun watching the hummers feed as they hover like tiny helicopters, their wings beating up to 53 times per second.
We have only the one species of Hummingbird in this part of the country, which leaves me feeling hummingbird deprived. In Arizona they have 18 species. In Ecuador, where my son lived for several months, they have 132!
Hummingbird at feeder.
We have a hummingbird feeder in the Back Garden, and it does get some use. Hardy Lobelias, both Great Blue (Lobelia syphilitica) and Cardinal Flower (L. cardinalis) also attract the little guys. They also like some of the annual Impatiens, like the ‘Profusion’ New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri), though not the other I. hawkeri varieties, from what I can tell.
Which plants are hummingbird favorites in your garden?