Parker County Today April 2018 - Page 98

Enjoy a Hummer Summer BY THE WILD BIRD CENTER, WEATHERFORD, TX We all love hummingbirds. We enjoy watching their skillful and daring flight patterns and consider them the acrobatic champions of the sky. The cocky little birds can out-maneuver and out-fly birds 100 times their size. They’re also strikingly beautiful. They glitter and shine like jewels and seem to change color from moment to moment. Our attraction to hummingbirds seems to be mutual. They’re not shy about using our window feeders, fly right over our heads, and sometimes seems as curious about us as we are about them. Hummingbirds like bright-colored tubular flowers. They prefer orange or red flowers, but will also visit yellow, pink and purple flowers. To draw attention to your hummingbird flowers, plant them as a grouping, either in front of a trellis with a climbing trumpet or honeysuckle vine, or in a circular display with a large hummingbird shrub in the center. Choose plants of varying heights, colors, and growing seasons. If you are looking for a tree hummingbirds will like, try a Mimosa or a Madrone. For a multi-level hummingbird garden, you could combine bugleweed, beebalm, columbine, bush fuschias and a trumpet vine. Or for simple flower boxes, try zinnias, nasturtiums, petunias or penstemon. If you think that since hummingbirds drink their break- fast, lunch and dinner and they don’t need water, you’re about half right. Hummingbirds do get sufficient moisture from flower nectar and “feeder juice” to meet their physi- ological needs, but they still need to bathe to keep their feathers clean and flight worthy. Keep this in mind as a way to encourage hummingbirds to choose your yard. Like humans who prefer a shower to a bath, humming- birds seem to love water features with misters or spray attachments. 96 When choosing a hummingbird feeder, it’s best to start small. Once your birds are regularly emptying the small feeder, you can move to a larger size, but you will want to wash and refill your feeder every few days, do not wait longer than 3 days to clean and refill your feeders, especially when temperatures reach 90 or above no matter what size it is. When looking for a feeder, look for the following characteristics: perches for the humming- birds to land on, clear glass or plastic container, red ornamentation to attract them, bee guards for the feed- ing portals and ports that are titled upwards so they won’t drip as the nectar warms. As an additional feature, you may want to add and ant moat. Fill the moat with water (and a little oil to keep it from evaporating, and it will function like a squirrel baffle to keep ants from the nectar. Fun Facts about Hummingbirds • :Pound for pound, a hovering hummingbird consumes almost as much energy (726 BUT per hour) as a hover- ing helicopter (750 BTU per hour). • A hummingbird can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than three feet! • To keep up with a hummingbird, a 170 lb. man would have to eat the equivalent of 285 pounds of hamburger a day, and exercise enough to burn 155,000 calories of energy! • Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly back- wards. • When hummingbirds migrate to the United States in the springtime, they cover 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico, flying for 20 hours without stopping.