Florida is host to many resident birds that are year-rounders and also enjoy many winter bird visitors. The “snowbird feathery migrants” also enjoy visiting Florida during the winter and they all like to feed.
There are three species of hummingbird that live in Florida most of the year, but the most common is the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). Though ruby–throated hummingbirds are migratory and Florida is a winter destination for many northern breeders, we do have hummingbirds in every month of the year in Southwest Florida.
It’s these amazing tiny winged wonders that Floridians are after. Hummingbirds weigh as little as a quarter-ounce and they can hover over flowers, fly forward, backward and even upside down to sip a drop of nectar from a butterfly bush.
Hummingbirds get their name from the sound of their beating wings that is up to 200 times per second.
Renee Wilson, the Communications Director for Audubon, Florida, is very familiar with the ruby–throated hummingbird. She lives on a 2.25–acre lot in Golden Gate Estates and shared that Collier seems to be right on the line for breeding hummingbirds. Renee has had breeding hummingbirds in her yard for the past two summers. They feed on the red tubular flowers of the coral bean.
Hummingbirds nest spring through summer so make sure you have plenty of nectar plants available. However, you can also help them meet their needs with a hummingbird feeder but this should not be the sole source of food.
This author prepares her own solution with 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Boil the sugar solution till sugar is dissolved, then allow to cool. It is also not necessary to add red food coloring. The birds will be attracted to the red feeders.
Note: Packages of instant nectar may also be found at many garden stores. Solutions must be kept fresh and the hot Florida weather can cause bacteria growth in the feeders. Change solution every 3-5 days and clean with hot water and white vinegar—avoid using soap or chlorine bleach.
According to experts, the best way to attract hummingbirds to your yard is to install plants with flowers rich in nectar especially those with tubular or bell-shaped flowers. They are most attracted to red or pink colors.
From the author’s backyard, hummingbirds visit the hedges of butterfly bushes, native red salvias, pagoda flower, milkweed bush and even purple porterweed, and also visit a small powderpuff tree.
Plants that attract Hummingbirds:
- Pagoda Flower
- Trumpet creeper
- Coral honeysuckle
- Butterfly bush
- Blue Sage
Plan to install mostly native species—they are the favored plants—though nonnatives such as bottlebrush and fire spikes are also good attractors.
According to Renee Wilson, “if people want to see hummingbirds in their yard, they should plant the plants that hummingbirds need. There are many nectar plants native to Florida that the birds seek out and these benefit a host of other species, as well.”
In addition, Renee also has a message for those with small planting space, “even if someone is short on space, it is possible to keep nectar plants in a container garden. This is especially helpful in winter, as our resident hummingbird population swells with winter visitors.”
Dr. Shawn Clem, Research Director of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, stated on December 7th that the Sanctuary released a ruby-throated hummingbird into their native plant and pollinator garden. This bird struck a window in North Carolina and though it was not seriously hurt, it missed her south-bound migration during her window of care. Once she was ready for release, she was transported to Sanibel Island’s Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Inc., (CROW) and they asked if they could release the hummingbird at the Sanctuary where there was an abundance of native nectar source.
Good Informational Links to Know:
- www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw059 (IFAS site with a list of hummingbird nectar plants)