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Hummingbirds in Your Garden


It’s time for hummingbirds to return to our area from their long winter migration. Ruby-throated hummingbirds fly all the way from Central America to spend the late spring and summer with us here in the northeast (though you may see the occasional wanderer of another species).
If you would like to attract hummingbirds to your garden, there are several plants you can add to your collection. Hummingbirds like brightly colored tubular flowers, especially orange and red (though they will It’s time for hummingbirds to return to our area from their long winter visit flowers of any bright color). Among their favorites are bleeding heart, columbine, bee balm, bugleweed, fuschia, trumpet vine and scarlet lobelia. I have also seen them on my weigela, globe thistle, blue mist spirea and butterfly bush as well.
If you’d like to use a feeder, which is  a consistent source of nectar all season long, you can use a 1:4 mixture of white sugar and water. Boil the solution briefly to dissolve the sugar and sterilize the nectar. If you use feeders, make sure you clean them frequently with hot water. Sometimes nectar feeders will attract other birds, such as orioles, tanagers, warblers, grosbeaks, and woodpeckers. 
I usually see the last of the season’s hummingbirds around mid to late September. Hummingbirds migrate based on food supply, but don’t worry about feeding them too late into the fall. They know when to leave, and they need the extra fuel for that long trip back to Central America.
Sue Cammerano is a landscape designer and consultant. She can be reached at