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The Garden Scoop

Creating a Haven for Hummingbirds

Around April I begin obsessively checking the Hummingbird Migration website. Bird lovers across the state report the first hummingbird seen in their garden. Those sightings are compiled on a map by date and location. It is a great way to predict when they will appear in your yard. This year, I heard the first ruby-throated hummingbird whiz past me on April 20; based on the migration website he was right on schedule.

I always have my feeders ready to go in the spring time. It’s simple to make your own hummingbird food;  boil one part granulated sugar to 4 parts water 5 to10 minutes, cool and refrigerate for up to a week. Skip the red food coloring, it’s not necessary. I keep my feeders clean by soaking them in a 10% bleach-water solution so my tiny feathered friends don’t become sick. I have extra feeders and switch them out every 3-4 days. Hang them where pets can’t reach them. A little Vaseline spread on the hook keeps ants at bay.

Around Labor Day, I put out a yellow jacket trap to keep the wasps away. Another way to keep bees and wasps away is to make sure your feeders do not leak and do not have yellow flowers around the feeding holes. Some studies show that bees are attracted to the color yellow. Don’t make the syrup sweeter-it will attract more bees.

As the season goes on and the babies hatch, the feeders will empty more quickly. It also helps to plant a wide variety of flowers like monarda, petunias, lantana, verbena, impatients, coneflowers, salvia and zinnias. As they zip around, they will entertain you with their mating rituals and constant jockeying for position at the feeders. I actually found one stuck in the perch of a feeder last year. Maybe he dove in too quickly? I gently released him and he buzzed away. I never tire of watching their antics and miss them when they leave in mid-October. However I’ve learned once they find a safe and friendly habitat they return each year from their incredible migration across the Gulf of Mexico. That would be a story for another day.