Sunday, August 24, 2014
Beginning in August, millions of hummingbirds will travel to Mexico and Central America as part of an instinctive migration pattern that they have followed for hundreds of years. At speeds up to 60 miles per hour, many hummingbirds will travel a nonstop, trans-gulf flight that takes approximately 18-22 hours and covers 500-600 miles.
“Considering that hummingbirds eat about every 10 minutes and can drink up to twice their body weight in nectar per day, there will be constant fly-by pit stops along their route,” said Danielle Motley, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Mount Pleasant, backyard bird feeding and nature specialty store. “That makes these next few months the ideal time to draw a crowd of hummingbirds into your own backyard.”
Hummingbirds feed on flower nectar, insects and sugar-water solution placed in specially designed feeders. Weighing as little as a penny, hummingbirds have the fastest metabolism of any warm-blooded animal, so it's important that they have a high-calorie intake to sustain their migration. Motley offers the following feeding tips to make sure local residents don't miss the migration:
Plant the right flowers – hummingbirds are drawn to plants like cardinal flowers, Salvia, Columbines and Bee Balm.
Create your own nectar – simply mix four-parts water and one-part sugar.
Have the right feeder – hummingbirds do not suck up nectar with their bills; they actually lap it up with their tongues, drawing nectar into their mouths almost 12 times a second.
Incorporate red into your garden – the color red is a visual cue that lets hummingbirds know food is available; they don't have an innate preference for the color red, but learn to associate certain colors with food. Try planting red flowers, using a red feeder or even creating fun garden art with red materials.
For more tips on how to attract hummingbirds to your backyard during their migration, visit the Mount Pleasant Wild Birds Unlimited website at www.wbu.com/mtpleasant.