Hummingbird Nectar

Hummingbird Articles

How to Feed Hummingbirds in the Winter Cold

We often are asked to field questions about hummers that spend the winter in colder climes and what we humans can do to help ease some of their struggles.

Nectar Producing Plants & Their Relationship to Hummingbirds

There is a very old and intimate relationship between hummingbirds and the nectar producing plants that depend upon them for pollination. In North America there are more than 200 native species of nectar producing flowering plants. These particular flowers are pollinated by a variety of bees, butterflies and, to a lesser extent, our nectar eating bats. However, at least 150 species of these flowers are primarily, and in some instances exclusively, pollinated by hummingbirds.

Raising Baby Hummingbirds

Female Hummingbirds are some of the most capable single moms in nature. Usually she will not accept the amorous attention of any male until she builds her nest by herself. The males role in the rearing of the young is limited to fertilization. After that occurs, she alone lays and incubates the eggs and cares for the fledglings. While we might be inclined to think poorly of the male for this seemingly neglectful behavior, think of the danger of having a blinking iridescent male leading the way to the vulnerable nest. Nature knows best.

Hummers in the Hand

Hummingbirds are the most marvelous and magnificent of creatures. People have always loved to watch them, but very little was actually known about them. Beginning in the second half of the twentieth century, attempts were made to discover more about hummingbirds. Researchers realized that they would need to catch the birds to better examine them. As a result, they developed special handling techniques and established hummingbirds banding and monitoring stations.

Dangers Hummingbirds Face

Those of us who love hummingbirds do so for many reasons. Their appeal is irresistible. We marvel at their magnificent iridescent coloration, their unique flying abilities, their courtship and mating displays, the female's excellent parenting skills, and their curiosity and fearlessness of humans. We are all familiar with the saying "survival of the fittest," but we seldom think that hummingbirds have predators and other dangers that they must face.

Arthur Cleveland Bent/ The Life Histories of North American Birds/ Hummingbirds

Bent collected the reports of hundreds of birders from throughout North America and from the leading ornithologists and naturalists of the period. We find some of the most interesting reading comes from the descriptive comments of the astute observers of the earlier parts of the 20th century. At that time, field guides and binoculars weren’t the practical equipment birders used. Rifles most easily provided that close-up, bird-in-the- hand view for certain identification. At the time of Bent’s work, Roger Tory Peterson was preparing for publication what would transform the birding world — the first field guide to American birds.

Herewith is a sampling of the types of reportage that one finds throughout the Bent series. Notice the attention to details that most of the writers are careful to include. While observing the migration of Calliope Humming birds in the Huachuca Mountains, Harry S. Swarth wrote:

Hummingbird Antics

Well, the heat has finally relaxed its iron grip on the Southwest. Fall is here, bringing us cool nights and warm, but not blazing hot, days. Walking the dogs can happen later in the day, not at the crack of a summer’s dawn. Night falls earlier. Moreover, fall migration is on. Beautiful Anna’s, Costa’s and Rufous Hummingbirds attend our hummingbird feeders.  Jon thinks he saw a tiny Calliope recently, but it moved on and has not been seen since.

This morning I walked out on the back patio with my coffee. The crisp air sent me back indoors to put on some socks and shoes. After the dogs finished their early AM greetings, I settled down in a chair to drink my coffee.

Bills and Tongues

According to Nature's grand design, hummingbirds have evolved so that their entire body form and purpose assists their ability to forage effectively. This accounts for their remarkable flying abilities (they can fly forward, backward, sideways, straight down and straight up, and hold their exact position while hovering), the development of their wings and muscular structure which enables that flight, and their tiny legs and feet. Of course, the bill has evolved as a highly specialized tool, which enables them to forage very efficiently on particular flowers and preferred foods.

How Hummingbirds Survive Cold Nights

Our coldest nighttime temperatures here in Southern Arizona occasionally drop to the freezing mark, or even below. Last winter, we had the coldest winter weather since records have been kept.  Luckily, this winter won’t be as cold. Many of our customers have asked us how it is that tiny, fragile hummingbirds are able to survive such cold night temperatures.

Hummingbird Nesting

Almost invariably, a hummingbird nest is bound together and lashed to a support with liberal amounts of spider webbing. Spider silk, the material that spiders produce from their bodies to create their webs, is one of the most amazing materials. It is thinner in gage than even the finest human hair, stronger than steel in relation to its thickness, somewhat sticky, and a very elastic material.

Hummingbird Myths

Hummingbirds, like bats and owls, have been surrounded with myths, legends, misinformation and simply untrue “facts”. Many of these old wives tales and fallacies concerning hummingbirds have been circulating for so many years that many folks who have heard them come to accept these myths as truths. We’ll examine some of the most popular myths and untangle some of the truths to set the record straight regarding hummingbirds.

Hummingbird Metabolism

Most folks understand that metabolism has something to do with energy, but they are not sure what else metabolism means. Simply put, metabolism is the physical and chemical processes that maintain a bird’s life. A flow of energy is required to run and maintain the metabolism of any organism, and the basic energy source for all birds is the sun. Green plants “capture” the sun’s energy in the process called photosynthesis, and the birds then acquire it by eating plants or by eating other animals or insects that eat plants. The energy is used to do the work of building tissues, contracting muscles, manufacturing eggs, processing information in the brain, and powering all the other activities of a living bird.

Hummingbirds Eating Insects

Every year, as more studies are completed, we learn more about hummingbird life and diets. However, we find that some people think that hummers can survive on nectar alone. Nectar provides quick energy to sustain their extremely high metabolic rate and little else. This is important enough that the shape of the bills of hummers have evolved in partnership with the flower shapes that they frequent. Consequentially, there is a wide variety of hummingbird bill lengths and shapes among the more than 300 species that exist.

Being Successful in Attracting and Feeding Orioles

If you are serious about attracting Orioles to your yard on a regular everyday basis, refer to Jon & Shani Friedman's article titled “Being Successful in Attracting and Feeding Orioles. Following the advice and directions you read there will increase your likelihood of success with attracting Orioles (and perhaps tanagers, too).

However, be aware that the best chance for success is dependent upon setting up your oriole station now, at the beginning of the oriole season. By April, most of the male orioles will have established themselves in the best available territory and, if that’s not in your yard, you may have to wait until the next breeding season before you have such a good chance at being successful with these beautiful, but somewhat skittish, birds.

Verdin Enjoy Nectar Also

Verdin occasionally seeks out bits of dried nectar from hummingbird feeders. Thus, I hang an Aspects pan type feeder without the top. It attracts multiple Verdin (but also the finches) who perch on the edge and drink nectar.

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Customer Service Our Nectar Scientific References Hummingbird Antics How do Hummers differ from other birds?
Made in USA Policy Comparison of Nectars Electrolytes Hummingbird Bills & Tongues Hummingbird Song
Mission Statement How to Prepare Nectar
Hummingbird Survive Cold Nights Do Hummingbirds Dance?
Our Friends Do You Know What is in Your Nectar? Comparison Dangers Hummingbirds Face Helpful Hot Weather Hummingbird Hints
Fund Raising   Aspects Mini Humzinger Hummingbird Eating Insects Family- Trochilidae
Our Packaging
First Nature Hummers in Hand Migration
Wholesale Rescue and Care of Hummingbirds Oriole Hummingbird Metabolism Social Behavior
How to Feed Hummingbirds in the Winter Cold Pest Barriers Hummingbird Myths Understanding Hummingbirds Needs
Origins of Feeders Nesting Hummingbird Flight
Anna's Orioles - Attracting & Feeding For Hummingbirds Only Raising Baby Hummingbird Where have the Hummingbirds gone?
Bahama Woodstar Verdin Webster ** Photographing Hummingbirds  
Black-chinned Nesting Materials Our Scientific References Soundly Sleeping Hummingbirds
  Frequently Asked Questions/ FAQ Hummingbird Plants
Broad-billed Books   Pest/ Ants & Bees Arthur Cleveland Bent/
The Life Histories of North American Birds

Bats at Hummingbird Feeders Interesting Facts
Buff-bellied North America Hooks & Brackets    
Bumblebee Central America      
Calliope South America      
Costa's Captive in Aviaries      
Green-breasted Mango        
Green violet-ear   .    
Magnificent (Rivoli's)        
Plain-capped Starthroat