Flora and Fauna: Hummingbirds

Ilona Erwin

Animated Jewels of the Garden

TThe tiny hummingbird captures our hearts with a fascination few other birds inspire. And since I have my own little anecdote to share,they rate an entire page to themselves; but as you will see, that is nothing, there are whole sites dedicated to them.

A few facts for fun:

  • Hummingbirds are highly territorial
  • The male likes a high perch to keep an eye out for the female while she feeds
  • Hummingbirds need room to accommodate their wings to zoom in on the flowers
  • Their high metabolism means they need the nectar from about a thousand blossoms daily
  • Did you know nectar feeders need to be cleaned? (every other day in summer is recommended-just one more reason not to use them)
  • They eat spiders, another reason to love them!

A garden geared toward attracting hummingbirds would have lots of flowers that are red and tubular.

Fiery sunset colored schemes would accommodate those needs. Many of the annual flowers are in this category. Think of this: a bed with a background planting of deep red Cannas, especially those with purplish leaves. A great swath of Cosmos in the red and orange shades, a group of red Monardas, pools of Heucheras in the red “Mt. St. Helens” variety. Back by the large Cannas could be some black Hollyhocks, and some reds, a group of Four o’clocks in their myriad colors in front of those, and some “Bishop of Landorff” dahlias, orange-yellow baby Zinnias, and red Salvia across the front…just to make sure everyones eyes pop.

I think it would be a gorgeous bed for the sunny area of your garden; it might send lovers of misty mauve schemes screaming from the garden, but we can’t please everyone, can we?

Now for you with delicate color sensibilities, I have ideas for something sweet and calming. A tall group of Foxgloves in their soft colors,a Buddleia davidii ‘Royal Red’ or Buddleia alternifolia to keep it soft, lavender and pink Monardas, a beautiful stand of Phlox, one of pure white and one of lavender, punctuation of Larkspurs in either their pink or purple forms, and lush front planting of Petunias in the purples, pinks, and blues.

Many of the plants for butterflies are are loved by hummingbirds:




Hummingbird Sites:
Hummingbird.net | About.com Hummingbird garden | Hummingbirds in Houston| Hummingbird Website | Ponding for hummingbirds |

I personally do not like ‘nectar’ feeders for hummingbirds, for the same reason I wouldn’t feed my children a steady diet of soda-pop. I don’t care if it is supplemented, it is not healthy. Sure, the birds will go for it in droves -which might make you happy, but is it good for them?

My Hummingbird Story

Everyone has something that has special meaning to them, that never fails to brighten their life, I think. For some: it is a sunset, for others: a dogs attentiveness, for many- the glimpse of a rainbow. I seem to have a special joy when I see certain birds or a bird of a new type. I take it as a token that God has not forgotten me. And if I was ever tempted to think that in the past, He has given me a small life event to remind me, always, that He cares for my soul. Here’s the story:

First, let me tell you that I am very nearsighted. I can see well for about 12 inches, and it is all blurry after that! A few summers ago, my husband and I went into the garden to sit in the garden seat and enjoy the weather and each others company. As we sat there in the sunshine, my husband noticed that a hummingbird had come to visit some of the flowers by our porch. That is always a favorite area for them to come since there is a Belgian honeysuckle vine on the lattice and the hanging baskets have red ivy geraniums and fuschias in lush profusion. The early blooming hostas are throughout that bed with a trim of petunias, lobelias, and other such hummingbird favorites. I think that year I specialized in red, anyway (every year it is different!). As we sat there, I remarked, in passing, to my husband that “I wish I hadn’t forgotten to wear my glasses- I would like to see that hummingbird”.

Without even time for a sigh, on my part, the hummingbird flew to within a few feet of my face, hovered, turning somewhat this way and that as if to fully ensure that we were seeing it to its best effect. I kept expecting it would fly off, but the little hummer remained in that suspended sense of time one has in such events. It was just an amazing thing to us, and we discussed how it appeared to hover in front of us just for the sake of our enjoyment. I am convinced that the Lord arranged the whole thing! It was such a reminder of how even the desires of our hearts are heard, and how God delights in sharing the riches and beauty of His creation with us.

Hummingbirds in Ohio

The three hummingbirds found in Ohio are the Ruby-throated, Rufous and the Calliope Hummingbird, though the Calliope is quite rare here.

The ruby-throated is the most common and found in every county of the State. A few other types have been seen, but so rarely that it is thought that they were simply blown off course from their migrations.

Backyard Birds & Discovery Center

Garden Features for Birds

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.