Hummingbirds are back!
By Brigitte McCauley
As I walk through the flowers at Hummingbird Hill, I hear a chorus of sounds. The warmth has awakened a multitude of blooms and insects alike. Bumblebees cling to blossoms, beneficial flies buzz from flower to flower, and above it all, there's the telltale whir of rapid wings—hummingbirds. The males were first to come, but now the females have returned also. They fly among the insects, sipping nectar from the wild columbines which started to bloom just in time for their arrival.
Wild columbine and bergamot, hummingbird favorites, seem to thrive in the rocky loam here, reseeding readily and creating a better habitat for ruby-throats every year. Being an early blooming plant, wild columbine draws the birds in spring when nectar is difficult to find. When its flowers fade, other species with overlapping bloom times make the area attractive to these fast fliers throughout summer.
Red flowers, such as scarlet beebalm, cardinal flower, and coral honeysuckle are popular, but hummingbirds are also just as happy with subtler colors. Purple giant hyssop, obedient plant, and beardtongues are some of their favorites. Many of the beds here have multiple plants of the same species grouped together as they'd naturally grow, so hummingbirds and other pollinators will notice the blooms easier. There are also small trees that offer perching spots, as well as nesting sites for the females, who act as a single parent, to raise their young.
Dozens of ruby-throats come here each year, enjoying the flowers in the beds and meadow. Several feeders with sugar water are hung around the house and nursery area, but to me, there is something extra special about seeing a hummingbird hovering at a flower. It's a privilege to be able to witness a private moment from a creature that moves so quickly in it's natural environment.