Great Beauty, Plants and Hummingbirds!
I was in Sedona, AZ this past weekend participating in the 3rd annual Sedona Hummingbird Festival. High Country Gardens was the Hummingbird Society's first corporate sponsor and remains a committed supporter of this wonderful group. My education about hummingbirds has been a result of this long time association with the Society's founder Ross Hawkins and his wife Beth Kingsley Hawkins.
Plants To Attract Hummingbirds & Provide Them Nectar
I like to use the term "natural nectar" when talking about flowering plants that attract hummingbirds. They provide nectar to the hummingbirds in return for having the birds pollinate their flowers. Many people that enjoy hummingbirds, like to hang feeders filled with a 1 to 4 mix of cane sugar and water. But being a life-long naturalist and gardening fanatic, I enjoy seeing the interplay between plants and birds and the incredible color combinations they provide.
Below is a short list of plants I recommend to attract hummingbirds. You can download a more complete list of recommended hummingbird plants here: Sedona-Hummingbird-Festival-2014-Plant-List.pdf
- Beardtongues (Penstemon pinifolius)
- Columbines (Aquilegia)
- Coral Bells (Heuchera)
- Scarlet Hedgenettle (Stachys coccinea)
- Texas Red Yucca (Hesperaloe)
- Redbirds in a Tree (Scrophularia Macrantha)
- Hummingbird Mint (Agastache)
- Bee Balms (Monarda)
- Sages (Salvia)
- Hummingbird Trumpet (Zauschneria)
- Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)
- Trumpet Vine (Campsis)
- Honeysuckle Vine (Lonicera)
Sedona is for Hummingbirds
Sedona supports a huge population of hummingbirds this time of year, with a combination of full-time resident Anna's hummingbirds and migrating birds that have finished their nesting and are heading south to winter in southern AZ or Mexico. Broad-tail, Rufus and Black Chin hummers represent the majority of the migrating species. Sedona has an extremely favorable environment for hummingbirds with a year-round creek running through the middle of town, sheltered canyons and moderate temperatures. And they show up in huge numbers.
While I'm accustomed to having a dozen or so birds in my home garden, the hummingbird counts in Sedona are off the charts. One private residence on the garden tour had several dozen feeders that were constantly buzzing with birds. It was estimated that several thousand hummers were staying in the general area of the house!
A very important part of studying hummingbirds is the practice of banding which helps scientists and bird enthusiasts track the migration of these amazing travelers. And a big part of the Sedona Festival is banding demonstrations where trained ornithologists capture hummingbirds to attach tiny bands to their legs that help to track their movements. Careful records are also collected during the banding process recording the counts and age of each species and banding information from previously banded birds. It's a fascinating process that takes years of training for a person to obtain the skills and knowledge needed to do the work. Feeders are used to attract and trap the birds. And these feeders were constantly filled with multiple birds at each one—an amazing sight to see so much tiny energy and beauty concentrated into one place.
Learn More About Hummingbirds
I encourage all my readers to check out the Hummingbird Society's informative website and consider becoming a member. http://www.hummingbirdsociety.org/
Although you don't need to be a member to attend the Sedona Hummingbird Festival, membership dues and money earned from the Festival support the Society's educational and bird conservation activities. And maybe next summer you'll find yourself in gorgeous Sedona, at the side of towering red rock formation, enjoying the cool morning air, watching numerous species of beautiful hummingbirds buzzing around sipping breakfast.
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