Winter Hummingbirds & Spring Planting

Winter hummingbirds and Spring planting:

Anna's_hummingbird

While it’s still a little time to go until Spring, it’s not too soon to begin planning a garden that will attract hummingbirds or to take steps to help keep them alive during the winter.

If you already have suitable flowering plants in your garden, no doubt you’ve watched in fascination as the hummingbirds dart and hover around them during the summer. If not, you might want to add some so that you can enjoy this wonderful sight.

Here are some interesting tidbits about the Hummingbirds we see in this part of the world:

Have you ever wondered what happens to these little feathered sprites in the winter, or been surprised to see them still around even though the flowers are all gone?

We have four main species in coastal B.C.  The Rufous, Anna’s, Calliope and Black-chinned.  Most hummingbirds migrate to spend the winters in the U.S. Gulf coast or Mexico. (Strangely, the males and females migrate separately.)

It’s an amazingly long flight for such teeny tiny creatures whose wing span is literally only a few inches.  But not all the species migrate.

But not all the species migrate, which explains why you’ll sometimes still see them in the winter.

The Anna’s tend to winter here in areas where it doesn’t get too cold. Anna’s will definitely appreciate hummingbird feeders being maintained over the winter when flowers are few and far between.  To stop the feeders freezing, you can wrap them in incandescent Christmas lights or bring them in overnight.

Because Anna’s begin to breed as early as January, it’s a great idea to try to keep them supplied with nectar over winter so that they’re strong and healthy come breeding season. 

They normally lay just 2 eggs which take about 2 weeks to hatch and another 2 weeks before the little ones are ready to fly.  Hummingbirds can live as long as 12 years if they survive the lack of food over winter and don’t fall prey to predators.

If you would like to see more of these lovely little birds year round, the best way to attract them is to plant the kinds of flowers they prefer.  Hummingbirds are nectivores, meaning that they drink the nectar of flowers for energy and they eat small insects and spiders for protein. Planting the types of flowers that attract them will not only bring you pleasure, but it will perform an important ecological service as hummingbirds are major pollinators and ensure early fruit production for other wildlife.

Hummingbird_bleeding-heart

Here’s a list of the some of the flowers that attract Hummingbirds in coastal B.C.:

Spring flowering:

  • Sitka Columbine
  • Hairy Mazanita
  • Black Hawthorn
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Orange Honeysuckle
  • Black Twinberry
  • Red flowering currant
  • Thimbleberry
  • Salmonberry
  • Pacific Rhododendron

Summer flowering:

  • Giant Hyssop
  • Yellow Columbine
  • Common Red Paintbrush
  • Red Osier Dogwood
  • Scarlet Gilia
  • Spotted Jewelweed
  • Tiger Lily
  • Wild Bergamot
  • Penstemon
  • Snowberry
  • Evergreen Huckleberry
  • Bule Vervain

Fall flowering:

  • Harebell

Some non-native plants that attract Hummingbirds include:

  • Flowering tobacco
  • Fuchsia
  • Sage
  • Delphinium
  • Canna
  • FourO’Clock
  • Gladiolus
  • Hollyhock
  • Nasturtium
  • Petunia
  • Scarlet Runner
  • Chaste Tree
  • Winter Jasmine
  • Camellia

 

If you’d like to make your garden more hummingbird friendly, pop in and have a chat with us and we’ll be happy to advise you.

References:

http://cwf-fcf.org/en/discover-wildlife/flora-fauna/fauna/birds/hummingbirds.html

http://rpbo.org/hummingbirds.php

http://arcinst.org/arci-tracking studies?gclid=CNewzPjU7ckCFc2CfgoddggB5w

http://www.worldofhummingbirds.com/faqs.php

 

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