Hummingbirds are beautiful species of birds, and among the smallest, usually in the 7.5-13cm range. The smallest is only 5cm is size and weighs less than a penny (2.5g). While most people associate them with drinking nectar from flowers, and they do use this as a primary food source, they also eat insects like aphids, and gnats in your garden for the protein they provide. In this week’s tip, we want to share a few interesting facts on hummingbirds and how you can help attract them to your garden.

Hummingbirds are the only birds that can hover, fly backwards, and straight up and down. They do this with a “figure 8” wing beating and muscular shoulders. Hummingbirds are native to North and South America, with the ruby-throated hummingbird being the only one to breed in Southern Ontario.

ruby throated hummingbird
Photo: Hummingbird by Curt Hart

Hummingbirds drink about 8-10x their weight in nectar per day, so planting nectar-rich flowers like petunias, trumpet vine, bee balm, and apple/pear trees in addition to a feeder can provide them with a good source of nectar and lure them to your garden.

They get their name from their rapid wing movement, which means you’ll probably hear the birds before you see them. Hummingbirds are magnificent creatures with unique characteristics. You won’t be disappointed if you try to plant flowers to attract them to your garden – and the bees and other pollinators will thank you for your efforts as well.

Cover Image by Any Morffew, used under its Creative Commons license.

[Got a Tip?] If you have a tip to share with your fellow urban farmers, let us know at tips@youngurbanfarmers.comWant More Tips? Browse our Tips Archive for more.