How to Attract Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds to your Property
Hummingbirds are renowned for their nectar consumption. Some of their favorite flowers to visit are Cardinal Flowers, Wild Columbine, and Beebalm. However, their diet is not limited to these red tubular flowers and they will in fact feed on a large range of flowers: The best strategy to support hummingbirds is to design a wildflower garden with a variety of species that will bloom at different times throughout the season to ensure a continuous supply of nectar.
Although hummingbirds are best known for their for their nectar consumption, insects actually make up a large part of their diet as well. They eat mosquitoes, gnats, fruit flies, small bees, caterpillars, aphids, as well as spiders and various insect eggs. These are picked off from the flowers as they feed or caught midair while the bird is flying.
Hummingbirds also consume tree sap when available, especially sap originating from Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers holes early in the season when many flowers have not yet bloomed.
Having a hummingbird feeder is also beneficial, especially during periods when flowers are less numerous. But just like a person's diet should not be composed solely of fast food, hummingbird feeders should only be a supplement to a well-flowered landscape.
To entice hummingbirds to nest on your property, you will need leafy trees and/or large shrubs. Females build nests three to 10 meters high in an area where the nest is protected by overhead leaves. In the wild, hummingbird nests have been recorded in species such as maples, ironwoods, beeches, yellow birches, and others.
Nests are built from plant down, lichens, and spider webs―I know many people do not enjoy spiders, but having them in your yard is extremely useful! Planting down-producing flowers such as milkweed can also help provide nest-building materials for the hummingbirds. In the end, a hummingbird nest may look like a tree knot from afar.
Hummingbirds get enough water from the nectar they consume to meet their hydration needs.
However, a water source for cleansing is still desirable. This allows them to keep their feathers in good condition in order to maintain proper insulation and make flying as efficient as possible. Unlike many other bird species, hummingbirds do not enjoy traditional bird baths. Instead, a spray, mist, or fountain is preferred.