April 10, 2013
Company's Coming! How Kids Can Keep Hummingbirds Happy and Healthy
You can help keep hummingbirds happy and healthy
Hummingbirds, the world’s smallest birds, wing their way north each spring. Some travel more than 1,000 miles from their winter homes in Central and South America to the United States. They will nest here, then return south in the fall.
Hummingbirds probably get their name from the rapid flapping of their wings. Flapping at more than 70 times per second, their wings make a whirring or humming sound. The tiny birds can fly forward and backward, sideways—even upside down. And they are the only bird that can stop in midair and hover like a helicopter!
All of this activity takes a lot of energy, so hummingbirds need to eat constantly. Top on their dinner list is sipping sweet nectar from flowers. Invite them into your yard by planting some. Then sit back and enjoy the show.
You can do it!
Plant flowers that produce nectar. Hummingbirds’ favorite colors are red and orange. Trumpet-shaped flowers like bee balm, fuchsia, and trumpet creeper in these shades will catch their attention. Use native plants whenever possible.
Plant the flowers near a tree. Hummingbirds will escape to the tree for protection from bad weather and predators.
No place to plant flowers? No problem! Hang a hummingbird feeder filled with sugar water. You’ll need:
- white sugar (do not use other forms of sugar, honey, or artificial sweeteners)
- hummingbird feeder (available in most hardware and department stores)
1. Mix together one part sugar with 4 parts water (example: one cup of sugar to 4 cups of water).
2. WITH ADULT SUPERVISION, bring the mixture to a boil.
3. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
4. Fill a CLEAN hummingbird feeder enough to last one or two days. (Store extra sugar water in a refrigerator no longer than a week.)
5. Hang the feeder in a quiet spot near a tree. Refill it every one or two days.
6. Keep the feeder clean, with a fresh supply of sugar water. Otherwise, hummingbirds may become sick from mold and bacteria. Rinse out the feeder thoroughly with a vinegar/water solution. Avoid using soap—it can harm hummers.
Enjoy watching the tiny travelers who visit your feeder!