Tuesday, June 06, 2006

hummingbird feeder: MARCUS SCHNECK

Monday, June 05, 2006
A reader asks, "What can I do to attract hummingbirds into my backyard? I see them passing through, but they don't seem to pause here at all."

In the midstate, by this point in the year, hummingbirds have returned and have pretty much set up their territories.

According to Dan Brauning, chief of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Wildlife Diversity Section, hummingbirds began to trickle out of their wintering grounds in Central and South America in April. They flew nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico, and then flitted from flowerbed to feeder to flowerbed through the South, working their way north to their nesting grounds. They began to show up in Pennsylvania in late April and early May.

However, there is still much you can do to tap into the population of ruby-throated hummingbirds -- the only ones regularly found in Pennsylvania or east of the Mississippi River -- already in your neighborhood.

It all starts with a basic hummingbird feeder.

"As long as the feeder is noticeable, filled with relatively fresh nectar or sugar water, and hummingbirds have returned from their wintering grounds, there's always a good chance that it will attract hummingbirds," Brauning said.

"It doesn't hurt to window-dress your rock gardens or flowerbeds with plants that hummingbirds seek out. But the feeder is your first and best shot to attract early hummingbirds."

Some favorite hummer plants are trumpet vine, beebalm, red salvia, coral bells, honeysuckle, gladiolus, jasmine, begonias, scarlet morning glory, fuchsias, morning glory, paintbrush, petunias, trumpet-creeper, columbine, mimosa, rose-of-sharon, black locust, horse chestnut and sweetgum.

Color is the key for hummingbirds to stop in your yard, particularly vibrant reds, oranges and yellows, even pinks and purples.

Hummingbird feeders usually have red and yellow parts for flagging that get the job done.


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