Create a Hummingbird Garden Habitat

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It's not difficult to create a garden that will attract hummingbirds, but if you'd like to build a habitat in which they will happily nest and live throughout the northern summer, you need to provide them with more than a sugar-water feeder and a plant or two. An active hummingbird garden doesn't need to be large, but it will have all of the following key ingredients to attract and keep the attention of "nature's fairies".

Choose plants that attract Hummingbirds Flowers are, of course, the key ingredient in attracting hummingbirds to your garden. The tiny birds feed on nectar that is produced by flowers, and they seem particularly attracted to plants with trumpet or tubular bright red and orange flowers. Favorites include rhododendrons, azaleas and rose of Sharon bushes. For northern gardens that attract the ruby-throated hummingbird, choose plants that flower at different times during the blooming season to provide food for them throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Spring Bloomers - Azaleas, rhododendrons and rose of Sharon bushes make a great 'background' for hummingbird gardens. They bloom early in the spring and continue blooming through the early summer. Pink and bright red varieties are favored, but hummingbirds love all Rose of Sharon varieties.

Summer Bloomers - Bleeding hearts and red mountain columbine bloom in the early summer, as do petunias, morning glories, trumpet vines, trumpet honeysuckle, and impatiens, all of which attract hummingbirds.

Autumn Bloomers - Butterfly bush, day lilies, garden phlox, bee-balm and impatiens all will keep hummingbirds returning through the autumn. These blooms will also attract late migrators too.

Provide a source of water in the hummingbird garden Unlike larger birds, hummingbirds will seldom take advantage of a bird bath or bowl of water. Instead, they relish cool mists. A garden hose with a misting attachment or a small fountain that can be adjusted to a fine mist will keep them happy.

Create perching and nesting space in your garden Hummingbirds need shelter from predators, plus small branches for perching and resting (yes, they do perch sometimes!). By choosing a few taller bushes or trees, you can provide both.

Several strategically placed hummingbird feeders There are dozens of commercial hummingbird feeders designed to be attractive to the little wanderers. Choose feeders with bright red accents, and a capacity for about 8 ounces of sugar water. Instead of using one large feeder, place 2-4 of them around your garden, out of sight of each other if possible. Hummingbirds are notoriously territorial. By providing several 'private' feeding stations, you'll increase the number of hummingbirds that you attract.

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? 2005, Kathy Burns-Millyard. This article is provided courtesy of The Wild Bird Shop section of The Garden Source Network. You may publish it at no cost, as long as the links are left intact, made live, and this notice stays in place.

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