Hummingbirds, the smallest birds in the world, are fascinating and beautiful creatures. They have the highest metabolic rate of any animal with a heart rate of over 1,200 beats per minute. Their wings may beat 50-80 times per second (their wings do not flap but rather bend & flex in a rotating motion, producing the humming sound from which they take their name). Hummingbirds are also the only bird that can fly in any direction, including backward and upside-down!
Hummingbirds Require Constant Sources of Food
In order to maintain this immense output of energy, they must consume half of their own weight each day. In fact, in order to survive the night without feeding they slow their metabolic rate to a near hibernation state and lower their heart rate to around 100 beats a minute. They feed primarily on nectar but also rely heavily on small insects in their diet to provide protein and to feed their young.
Gardeners Can Help Hummingbirds
Supply food sources for these remarkable little birds:
minimize the use of pesticides so that insects are available for hummingbirds to feed their young
provide hummingbird feeders (see nectar recipe below)
plant flowers that offer nectar
Hummingbirds feed through their long beak so are attracted to flowers that are funnel-shaped. They are drawn to bright colors, in particular the color red.
We carry a variety of pre-mixed nectar for hummingbirds, but you can also prepare your own.
Mix one part white granulated Sugar (no honey, brown sugar or artificial sweeteners!) with four parts water. It is not necessary to add red dye as most feeders will have red color on the feeding area to attract the birds
Boil the mixture to remove any bacteria
Cool to room temperature
Store excess formula in refrigerator
Place the feeder in the shade so that the nectar mixture remains cool and doesn’t spoil as rapidly
Replace the mixture every couple of days during warm weather to minimize the growth of bacteria