Monday, March 15th, 2010...12:00 am

Hummingbirds: A Lecture by Eileen Boyle

TheGardenLady attended a lecture given by Eileen Boyle, the education coordinator at Mt. Cuba Center. The talk was on HummingbirdsTrochilidae family.

There are 328 species of Hummingbirds in the world, mostly in the Tropics but in the Eastern half of North America there is only one breeding hummingbird. This is the Ruby Throated Hummingbird- Archilochus colubris.  In the western half of North America there is a hummingbird called the Rufous -Selasphorus rufus that sometimes gets lost and winds up in the Eastern half of the country, but that is rare. Hummingbirds migrate to Central America for the winter and return about mid April to the mid-Atlantic states.

Hummingbirds eat nectar and bugs. I thought that Hummingbirds have to eat half their weight in food each day, but I read online that “Hummingbirds must eat more than their weight in food each day, and they fulfill this need by eating often. They eat approximately every 10 minutes. Because their survival depends critically on eating frequently, more than any other animal – they continually face the danger of starving.”  Hummingbirds have to eat a lot. So you will be helping Hummingbirds by providing their food needs.

To attract hummingbirds to your property, put out hummingbird feeders. Be sure to change the sugar water in them and clean them every 2 or 3 days- washing in the dishwasher is best. Put up multiple feeders, because if you start attracting hummingbirds, you will attract a lot of them and they are very aggressive and territorial. They like feeders where they can perch while sipping. Plant flowers to attract hummingbirds to your property. Hummingbirds love red, yellow, orange and blue tubular flowers. They are not attracted to fragrances. They need early to late blooming flowers to sustain them. They like wetlands and use the down of cattails, spider webs and down of pussy willows to line their nests. They need water to drink and need water to wash in- they even enjoy a gurgling fountain.  Watch this.

A list of basically native plants given by Eileen Boyle

Red buckeye Aesculus pavia

Wild columbine Aquilegia canadensis

Butterfly weed Asclepias tuberosa or any kind of Asclepias

Trumpet creeper Campsis radicans

Spike gayfeather Liatris spicata

Canada lily Lilium canadense

Turk’s cap lily Lilium superbum

Cardinal flower Lobelia cardinalis

Trumpet honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens (this is the native honeysuckle that is not invasive.)

Scarlet beebalm Monarda didyma

Wild Sweet William Phlox maculata

Downy phlox Phlox pilosa

Alabama phlox Phlox pulchra

Plum-leaved azalea Rhododendron prunifolium

Pink-shell azalea Rhodendron vaseyi

Indian pink Spigelia marilandica

Fire pink Silene virginica

Mt. Cuba Center will be having a Hummingbird weekend this August from Fri. Aug. 27th through Aug. 29th taught by Eileen Boyle and Bill Hilton Jr. Though one session calls itself a teachers workshop, this Hummingbird weekend is open to everyone. They will teach how to set up a hummingbird garden and will even demonstrate how to band hummingbirds. Bill Hilton Jr who was written up in 2008 Discover magazine as one of the “50 best brains in Science” and a top 10 in amateur scientist leads hummingbird tours to Costa Rica. See here.

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