What I Learned From Our Hummingbird

July 20, 2014 hummingbird 012

As more and more flowers continue to bloom, hummingbirds become more frequent visitors to our garden.

They dart around so quickly from flower to flower, and are normally so shy, that I’ve had no photos to share with you; though we see them daily now.

We’ve identified at least four different hummingbirds who frequent the garden.

But one was kind enough to visit with me at the Stump Garden late on Sunday afternoon .

July 20, 2014 hummingbird 007

Returning from a walk to a friend’s home, I stopped to take photos of the newly blooming Gladiolus.

And while I was busy snapping away from various angles, I heard the whirring buzz of a hummingbird zooming into the garden to sample the Glad’s nectar.

The hummingbird is drinking from the lowest flower on the left.

The hummingbird is drinking from the lowest flower on the left.

He was so comfortable hovering inside the huge Glad blossom, that he ignored me and my clicking, chiming camera entirely.

The Hummingbird zoomed from blossom to blossom, and then paused to rest on a leaf.

All the while I’m happily taking his portrait.

Now the hummingbird has turned to drink from the catnip on the right.  Can you see his curved beak?

Now the hummingbird has turned to drink from the catnip on the right. Can you see his curved beak?

And by observing, I learned.

Conventional wisdom holds that hummingbirds prefer red flowers.

Supposedly, that is why the plastic hummingbird kits come with gaudy red and yellow feeders and bright red Kool-Aid like mix with which to fill them.

But our little guy was sipping  first from blue Glads, then white catnip flowers, and finally from the tiny purple flowers of our Coleus, growing in the pot on the stump.

Did you know Hummingbirds would drink from Coleus flowers?  I normally break those off as a part of “grooming” the Coleus for more leaf production!

But there he was, hovering beautifully high up in the air, drinking as happily from the Coleus as from the reddest Canna, Salvia,  or Fuschia.

Hummingbirds need to consume half their weight in sugar, daily, just to survive.   They prefer flowers which offer nectar of 25%-35% sugar content.

They can starve in a matter of hours when food isn’t available. 

“Feed them and they will come.” 

Good advice, especially in the world of wildlife gardening.  And it always amazes me to see how many different species will show up for the feast, once the garden blooms each summer.


July 20, 2014 hummingbird 011

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

July 20, 2014 hummingbird 013

About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

7 responses to “What I Learned From Our Hummingbird

  1. Did you mean you have four individuals or four different species? We have only the ruby-throated and every year I so look forward to their summer visit. I have a dead tree in the back yard that I refuse to cut down because it is where my little buddy likes to perch. I love looking up at breakfast on the deck to see him sitting there.
    What kind of camera do you have? If it has a “sports” setting, you might try it next session and you may be able to capture it with less blurring. I’ve never tried to photograph them, but a quicker shutter speed might work. They are just the coolest little birds! 40-80 wingbeats per SECOND! Hard to even imagine!

    • Dear Eliza- I meant 4 individuals. My husband has spotted and counted better than I have (he’s been around here more lately, to be honest) We are only supposed to have one or two species here, but he’ s reported observing several colors of hummingbirds. It is such fun to look out and see them hovering near our windows- I can’t blame you for leaving the tree for them and the other creatures who live there.
      I’m going to check on the “sports” setting. that is a good idea, Eliza. I’m not very technically minded, and prefer a “point and click” approach which allows me to capture a moment quickly. My current camera is a little Nikon S3500 with a 7X lens. It fits easily in my pocket or purse, so it is there when a moment unfolds… You are correct about the shutter speed. Normally they flit around too fast to even focus, but this one was preoccupied with the flowers and gave me a chance 😉 Best wishes, WG

      • I looked up your Nikon manual online and looks like page 40 has the settings for sports (and macro for flower close-ups. I use my flower close-up setting a lot!) Play around and see what it can do. Looking forward to more hummer shots! 🙂

  2. I got a kick out of this fun one, WG! 🙂 Your witty sense of humor shines through.
    Great stuff! And thanks for telling us where to look. Them li’l suckers are teeny!

    • Teeny buy noisy! Hope they are in your garden too, Keith 😉 One taunted me this morning by lighting nearby on a branch- until I got the camera out. Took off as I turned it on 😉

  3. I’ve been out learning from the hummingbirds, too. Great post, WG, with lovely images. I’m going to be sure to check the glads tomorrow. For some reason they’re in the middle of the meadow. No idea why the previous owner planted them way out there, but they sure are pretty. 🙂

    • Hi Robin, So happy to know you have hummingbirds, too. What are they eating in your garden? It sounds like your previous owner had some strange ways, Robin. Maybe it will begin to make more sense as you work with the garden. That was the case with us, as we eventually figured out a lot of things that were just bizarre that first year. I got a single red Glad bulb from somewhere a year or so ago, and just stuck it in the ground in a shrub border. It looked very strange when it bloomed this year, although it came up near our red Cannas. Hope you’re enjoying your summer garden. I’ll catch up on your posts later this evening- Best wishes 😉

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