How About Something Pleasant For a Change? Hummingbirds!

When we talk about birds as pollinators, we are talking about hummingbirds (at least in North America). Other birds do not have the specified beaks designed to be able to reach into flowers and reach nectar.

Most of North America has just one type of hummingbird, the ruby throated hummingbird. For those of you west of the Mississippi (although there are occasional irruptions of other hummingbirds in other places), there are other species as well.

Because of its small size and high metabolism, however, whatever sort of hummingbird inhabits your region will be a prodigious feeder! I’ve seen hummers fly up to one of my bay windows to investigate a geranium that was on the other side!

Now since I’ve already said that I’m a little too skittish to put up feeders because of bears, you know I don’t use feeders, to my eternal sadness. But I do try to grow lots of plants for my little feathered friends. For those of you without my bear problems, you should find everything you want to know about hummingbird feeders here.

One common misconception is that hummingbirds “need” red flowers or only see red or some such thing. I’ve seen them on all sorts of flowers, although of course red is what they are attracted to first. While we cannot know what goes on in a bird’s brain, speculation is that because the other pollinators like bees and butterflies do NOT see in that color family, hummers have evolved to know that there will always be nectar left in the red flowers. It’s an interesting theory and it does make sense.

But this is why, although hummingbird feeders are often but not always red, there’s no need to buy red nectar, or dye your own sugar water red. Artificial color isn’t any better for the birds than it is for us!

If you are concerned that the birds aren’t finding your feeder, a red ribbon should help make it more visible. But no red dye, please! Not even food coloring! Heck, stick a nice red geranium next to the feeder. It’s all my birds seem to need.

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