Yankton is located on a migratory path for hummingbirds, and with joy I look forward to their annual visit to my river’s edge garden. Providing the right habitat will encourage these humming wonders to stay around for the summer.

Visual creatures with excellent sight and little sense of smell, hummingbirds are attracted to color, especially red.  Loving trumpet and tubular flowers for the nectar, they will pollinate while traveling from bloom to bloom. By referencing a garden center, the Internet or library, you can find many varieties of hummingbird-friendly plants and shrubs to include in your garden. Choose plants that bloom throughout the season, providing a constant food source. As an added bonus, the same habitat that is coveted by hummingbirds also attracts butterflies and moths. Hummingbird moths are wonderful to observe and “hum” late in the summer season.

A hummingbird garden can be a small window box or several acres of plantings, but should be located where you can quietly sit and observe their daily flights. They need sunlight and quiet, shaded areas to cool off and rest. Abundant water is critical, and can be a well-maintained birdbath, pond or river. They do enjoy a dash through a misting sprinkler as well!  

After mating, a female bird will build a nest from spider webs and small plant material and usually lay two eggs. With the highest metabolism of all animals, hummingbirds will eat every 10-15 minutes, consuming a large variety of insects and 50 percent of their weight in nectar on a daily basis.  

I do have a nectar feeder that is visited many times throughout the day. There are commercially available nectar solutions or you can mix your own. After mixing 1 part sugar with 4 parts boiling water, allow the nectar to cool before adding to a feeder.  Change nectar every 4 days and more frequently with extreme heat conditions.

Old nectar can turn to alcohol and is harmful to the birds. When changing the nectar, be sure to thoroughly clean the feeder with hot soapy water and rinse well.  Male hummingbirds are very territorial and will take possession of a feeder, so you may need to hang additional feeders to satisfy several birds.

With many different species to observe, an enticing habitat for hummingbirds will reward you with quite an aerial show.

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