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POLLINATOR SERIES: HUMMINGBIRDS
Rather than focusing on a single plant, hummingbird-friendly flowers are highlighted this month. (Previous topic: Butterfly Pollinators)
Hummingbirds (hummers for short) are so named because of the unique humming sound they make with their wings during flight. Hummers must consume approximately one half their weight in sugar daily, and the average hummingbird feeds 5-8 times per hour.
The ruby-throated hummingbird (the most common species) flies 500 miles nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico during both its spring and fall migrations. On average, hummers live between 3-5 years. A hummer's maximum flight speed is 30 miles per hour and they can reach up to 60 miles per hour in a dive. Surprisingly, given their tiny size, hummingbirds are fiercely aggressive. They will defend their territory from blue jays, crows, and even hawks.
Plants and Shrubs
The best way to support these fascinating beauties (and other pollinators) is to plant native nectar plants. Hummingbirds are most attracted to red, pink, yellow, and orange blooms, and flowers may have solid colors or patterned colors to attract attention. Because hummers see colors along a spectrum that humans cannot even imagine, ultraviolet shades can also play a part in attracting them. Plants include: bee balm, butterfly bush, cat mint, lilies, coral bells, and verbena. For more information on hummingbird-friendly gardens, see the USDA's Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden Using Native Plants.