A rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) hovers on Saltspring Island. (Ryan Bushby / Wikimedia Commons)

GARDEN: How to give hummingbirds a helping hand

Cloverdale Garden Club president Nancy Kramer on how to best care for hummingbirds

Nancy Kramer

Cloverdale Reporter

As we enter spring and the red-flowering currant blooms, my favourite bird, the rufous hummingbird, returns to my garden to amaze me with its stunt flying.

With a decrease in wildlife habitat across the province, it is becoming more important for people to provide sources of food for backyard creatures, including hummingbirds. A hummingbird feeder is excellent, but I like to provide natural food, such as red-flowering currant, my favourite shrub, for my favourite avian visitors.

Red-flowering currant is a shrub native to British Columbia. It can grow up to three meters in height and its leaves resemble small maple leaves, with three to five lobes. The shrub’s crowning glory is the masses of bright, pink-red flowers that bloom from March to May. The red-flowering currant prefers sun or partial shade and well-drained, moderately fertile soil. Once established it is drought tolerant. And best of all, hummingbirds just love it.

Some other shrubs that will attract hummingbirds are weigela and buddleia. Both shrubs will grow in the same conditions as the red-flowering currant. As an added bonus, “Wine and Roses” weigela has dark purple foliage as well as pink flowers, making it an attractive addition to your garden. It grows up to two meters in height with an equal spread.

Trumpet vine and honeysuckle vine also attract hummingbirds. Both are fast growing and need the support of a trellis or arbor. Some honeysuckles have a fragrance, so it is best to purchase them when they are flowering so you can judge if the scent is to your preference.

There are numerous perennials that attract hummingbirds. Look for ones that have red flowers and trumpet-like flowers such as bee balm, montbretia, columbines, or beardtongue.

Hummingbirds love water, especially if it’s moving. A gentle, continuous spray from a nozzle or a sprinkler hose is perfect for a bath on the fly. If you have the space, a pond with a water fountain is perfect for attracting birds.

If you have the right plants in your garden, hummingbirds will hopefully nest. They prefer conifers such as the western red cedar to build their nest, but they will adapt to whatever they can find. A hummingbird’s nest is very small and hard to spot. They are constructed using moss and spider webs.

In addition to rufous hummingbirds, we also have Anna’s hummingbirds, which overwinter here on the coast.

Anna’s hummingbirds are a bit larger than the rufous, but the easiest way to spot the difference is that the Anna’s humming bird has a fuchsia pink throat while the rufous has an orange-red throat.

They eat mainly insects in the winter, but it doesn’t hurt to provide them with a feeder. If you do, make sure that you fill it and clean it on a regular basis.

Nancy Kramer is the president of the Cloverdale Garden Club. The next garden club meeting will be this Thursday, March 12, from 7:15 to 9:15 p.m. at Don Christian Recreation Centre (6220 184 Street).



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Proudly Surrey modifies child-care policy

Slate wants to use school board property for child-care spaces

Surrey school board wants to expand French Immersion program

District had to close program at Cougar Creek Elementary due to low enrolment

VIDEO: Scarecrow festival kicks off in Port Kells

Fourth-annual event will be on until Halloween

Delta to craft whistle-blower policy

The policy is meant to increase public trust and create support for staff in questionable situations

VIDEO: North Delta Studio Stomp back for sixth year

The annual art event has local artists opening their studios to the public this weekend

Lions earn stunning 35-32 OT win over Ticats

Epic comeback lifts B.C. past Hamilton in CFL thriller

Czarnik nets 3 as Flames dump Canucks 5-2

Calgary picks up exhibition win over Vancouver

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

Remainder of Vancouver Whitecaps season filled with ‘must-win’ games: coach

With Vancouver currently sitting four points out of a post-season spot, each contest is crucial

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Most Read