If you are one of those who loves birdwatching, perhaps you have seen hummingbirds hovering from one flower to another and darting away quickly as they come. These remarkable creatures are most commonly found in the Western Hemisphere (from as far north as Southeastern Alaska and the Maritimes of Canada and as far south as Southern Chile). Laws forbid to keep these birds as pet, but you can still enjoy watching them as they go from south to north during migration. And as they are said to return to the same migration spot year after year, you can keep them nourished with the top choices for hummingbird diet.
All About Hummingbird
Hummingbirds are called as such for the sound that their rapid wingbeat produces. It is said that these birds flap their wings for about 50 times per second. The movement is rather fast that anyone seeing them as they flit from a flower to another while flapping their wings only sees a blur. These amazing flyers, can go right, left, up, down, backwards (and even upside down). They are said to be the only birds that has the ability to fly backwards. Even as they fly about so quickly, they can easily come to a halt and make a soft landing if they want to. These birds do have poorly developed feet that they can’t walk. They only use their feet to prop themselves up when feeding or resting. They need to fly from one branch to another.
The Bee Hummingbird of Cuba is noted to be the smallest bird in the world at 2.17 inches (5.5 cm) and weight 1.95gm (0.07 oz). Hummingbirds grow to up to about two to eight inches in size.
Hummingbirds are said to live for only up to three to four years. Their heartbeat and rapid wing motion require them to feed regularly throughout the day. It is reported that they must feed every 10 minutes and they may consume 2/3 of their body weight in a single day.
Most hummingbirds are green except hermits, which are mainly brown and are noted for their brilliant-colored feathers. Hummingbirds groom themselves using their bills and claws, and with the help of the natural oil from a gland near their tails. They also love to sunbathe and take water baths in shallow pools, cupped leaves or by just letting the rain drench their skins while they perch on a tree branch.
Top Choices for Hummingbird
A great part of a hummingbird food diet comes from the nectar they get from special flowers. Each type of hummingbird bill makes it suited to feed on particularly shaped flowers. For instance, the White-tipped Sicklebill hummingbird draw nectar from heliconias using its downward curving bill. The Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird, on the other hand, has a rather short and slightly decurved bill. It uses its bill to draw its feed from the Ixora shrub. The Blue-tailed Emerald, who also has a short bill, feeds on the Hibiscus flower. The Copper-rumped Hummingbird uses its straight, long bill to draw nectar from medium sized tube shaped flowers like the Allamanda. These birds lap the nectar using their tongue to feed, just like cats lapping milk. As they feed, they transfer the pollen that they accidentally collect from flower to flower and, as a result, help flowers to reproduce.
Homemade nectar for flowers
Clearly, these amazing tiny birds crave sugar all day! If you want to provide feeds for them, you will want to have a constant supply of nectar for them. Fortunately, it can easily be done. All you need is some granulated white sugar and water. You really won’t need to haul every nectar product that is available at your local store.
To make the nectar to be fed for hummingbirds, you will need to boil one part of sugar and four part water until it dissolves. Stir the mixture well. Once it is done, let it cool. Then pour into your hummingbird feeders once possible. Any excess can be stored in the fridge for a day or two. Note that these white sugar alternatives should not be used to prepare the nectar: honey, brown sugar, and artificial sweeteners or coloring. These ingredients are quite toxic for hummingbirds, and they do not provide enough nutrients as well.
Note that nectar is not all that these birds eat. Among the top choices for hummingbird diet includes the following insects: slow flying insects like true bugs, leafhoppers, gnats, aphids, parasitic wasps, and small beetles. They might have a big appetite, but these tiny, big eaters will surely not go hungry any time with the abundance of these animals and nectar in the wild.