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

VIDEO: Langley family asks for help finding remains of man missing for 10 years

Police suspect foul play in Kellen McElwee’s disappearance a decade ago

Langley teen signs with Vancouver Whitecaps

Sixteen-year-old Grade 10 student from Langley joins MLS club

Karate instructor aims to empower women through self defence

Registration fees will be donated to Ishtar Transition Housing Society

Info sessions in Langley, Surrey for New Horizons for Seniors Program grants

MP John Aldag says program reaffirms government’s ongoing commitment to supporting seniors

Langley-Cloverdale MP’s reconciliation-focused bill passes in House of Commons

Surrey MP’s Bill C-374 would add ‘much-needed Indigenous representation to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board’

VIDEO: Work is play for this B.C. avalanche rescue dog

CARDA certified Joss’s Job is to save lives — but to her, it’s all a game

Police investigating after Vancouver churchgoers locked inside during mass

Congregation at Standard Holiness Church found door secured from outside after hearing noises

Black Press Media acquires two new Alaska newspapers

New Media Investment Group to acquire the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal while Black Press Media takes on daily newspapers in Juneau and Kenai Alaska

Thieves target B.C. firefighters helping flood victims

The service has been helping with sandbagging efforts, as rural Oliver battles flooding

B.C. towns rank in top honeymoon destination worldwide

Vernon, Kaslo, Sunshine Coast and the Island hit Expedia.ca’s list of top 18 honeymoon destinations

Olympic gold now official for B.C. weightlifter

Christine Girard’s bronze medal from 2012 Olympics upgraded to gold, IOC announces

Men arrested at Starbucks say they feared for their lives

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks, becoming viral video

Did a Canadian shoot down the Red Baron? A century later, debate hasn’t quit

Om April 21, 1918 two Canadians in their canvas-covered Sopwith Camel biplanes engaged the enemy

VIDEO: Canadian teen lands invite to Royal wedding

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have invited Faith Dickinson, founder of Cuddles for Cancer

Most Read