It's hot outside - give your hummingbirds a fountain! August 07 2014

Of course, we all know that hummingbirds will love nectar and need it to survive. But just like all living things, hummingbirds need plain water, too.  For drinking, for bathing, for cooling off - just like us! The proof is in the pictures and videos below. Enjoy, and scroll down for an easy and inexpensive DIY fountain.

DIY Fountain Idea

Mary MacLellan Stough, of the "Hummingbirds Anonymous" Facebook group, posted step-by-step photos of how she made an inexpensive DIY fountain. I like how it's put together as it could be replicated using just about any color or kind of flower pot or decorative bowl and the sky's the limit in terms of design.
  Start with any kind of bowl, flower pot, or deep dish that is durable enough to be used outdoors. Just remember that it has to hold water, so terra cotta or porous cement won't work. But glazed, resin, or plastic containers should work.

Place a small pond pump in the fountain container. You'll want to place the cord at what will be the back of the fountain, or creatively disguise it with a plant, etc.

Here's a pump that would work well with this: 

Submersible Water Pump for Fountains and Ponds

Place a sponge filter over the pump intake to keep dirt, rocks, or other particles from getting into the pump and breaking it or clogging it up. This sponge filter may need to be rinsed every once in a while to keep it clean (which helps keep the fountain water clean). You may even wish to place an aquarium charcoal filter cartridge near the intake of the pump.
Cover the pump and sponge filter with some kind of decorative media (pebbles, rocks, smooth glass pebbles). This will make it look nicer, keep the sponge filter over the pump intake, keep the pump in place, and keep foreign objects (and bugs!) out of the pump intake.
Place more decorative items such as larger rocks, figurines, etc. as preferred.
Fill the vessel with water (all the way!), plug in your pump, and enjoy! Remember to keep the vessel full of water so the pump doesn't run dry.

Now available on HummingbirdHQ - these solar fountains for you to make your hummingbirds happy!

Floating Solar Water Fountain Pump

And this plug-in submersible pump works under patios or in shady areas! Pro tip for this solar fountain - make the holes a little larger on the spray nozzle to help keep water height at 4-5" so it doesn't accidentally spill or get blown out of the container (bird bath, etc.) that you're using.

Submersible Water Pump for Fountains and Ponds



Can planting certain flowers actually harm hummingbirds? June 27 2014

The topic of bee colony collapse disorder and its link to a class of pesticide known as neonicotinoids (or neonics) has been in the news quite a bit recently.  This recent article contains some very good information about how toxic these pesticides are to all kinds of critters, hummingbirds included.

The article mentions that most garden centers and many growers actually treat their plants with neonicotinoids before they are sold to the consumer. This means that many plants purchased at big box retailers such as Lowe's, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart already have a harmful pesticide on them or they were grown from seed treated with it. And it can take years for the pesticide to break down (into sometimes even more harmful substances).

In fact, the Pesticide Research Institute and Friends of the Earth, a non-profit environmental group, just released their comprehensive report on June 25, 2014, with some disturbing results. The 65-page report confirms that over half of the test subject plants purchased at Lowe's, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart contained neocicotinoids that kill bees and birds.

So even if you never spray a thing in your own yard, you (and thousands of other well-intentioned gardeners) could actually be contributing to the plight of the pollinators.

What can you do? Buy organic or pesticide-free certified plants to help ensure that your garden or yard provides a healthy haven for pollinators.

Here is a list of retailers that have pledged not to sell plants that have been treated with neonicotiniods.

This is an important issue for all pollinators. I'll be posting more about it as I review the report more carefully.


What flowers attract hummingbirds the best? June 05 2014

My last post was dedicated to explaining why hummingbirds prefer red flowers. When I went to buy my flowers for spring planting, I was in the early stages of launching so I found myself buying lots of flowers with tags that indicated they attracted hummingbirds with hopes of attracting more to my own backyard.

Of the dozens of flowers you can plant to help attract more birds to your garden, here are some of the best.

  Bleeding Hearts - a perennial in zones 2-11, this plant grows 24-36 inches tall and does best in lightly shaded locations. The delicate blooms are white or pink and the plants can be divided to transplant.
Bee Balm - a perennial in zones 4-9, it is also called bergamot, horsemint and monarda, and thrives best in full sun and will grow 12-36 inches high.
Columbine - a perennial in zones 3-8, this plant does best in partial shade and comes in many colors, including white, pink, purple, and even yellow. Most varieties have two colors, as the one pictured. It can grow up to 20 inches tall.
Lupine - this perennial in zones 9-10 is an early bloomer and ideal for spring migrating hummingbirds. It is drought-tolerant and does best in full sun. The Texas Bluebonnet is a type of Lupine that can only grow in areas with very hot weather.
Salvia - a perennial in zones 4-11, the flowers on this relative of mint can range from pink to red to purple to blue. Tall stalks of flowers make it ideal for the back of flower beds. It does best in full sun and will come back larger each year.
Trumpet Creeper - a perennial in zones 4-10 and also known as the trumpet vine, this hardy plant climbs just about anything and can easily overtake an area without pruning (we had one that almost pulled down a portion of our fence and also tried to take hold of the vents under our eaves). It thrives in sun to partial shade.
Zinnia - this annual comes in many colors and grows best in full sun. It's compact size makes it ideal for containers and it will bloom into fall, making it an ideal flower for hungry migrating birds.
Petunia - this inexpensive annual comes in all colors and does best in full sun. The abundant flowers provide plenty of nectar for hungry hummers.
Butterfly Bush - this perennial in zones 5-10 with its thick elongated flowers attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. It is a drought-tolerant plant that does best in full sun and will grow into a large shrub over time.
Cardinal Flower - a perennial in zones 2-9, it is also called lobelia and grows best in moist, well-drailed soil, growing up to 48 inches tall.
Scarlet Honeysuckle Vine - this perennial in zones 4-9 produces scores of fragrant blooms and does best in full sun. It climbs just about anything and can become invasive.
Summer Phlox - this perennial in zones 4-9 produces fabulous fragrant blooms and comes in more than 100 varieties. The plants can grow 36-40 inches tall, with flower panicles from 6-9 inches long and 6-8 inches wide. It does best in sun with some mid- late-afternoon shade.


 Plan your gardens, yards, and containers to include plenty of these flowers, and soon your yard will be humming!