With their glittering gorgets, feisty attitudes, and energetic habits, hummingbirds have become favored garden guests. These diminutive pollinators will soon be returning to our area after wintering in Mexico and Central America. Welcome them back to New Jersey with a reliable water source and plantings that feature tube-shaped flowers in red, orange, and purple.
Red is a proven hummingbird “magnet,” and many nectar feeders prominently feature this hue to grab their attention. Hummingbirds are also drawn to red clothing and even red hair!
In our region, expect to see the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Both the male and female of this species have white bellies and emerald-colored heads, backs, tails, and wings. You will have to wait until the bird sits down to get a good look at its wings, since they beat at approximately 80 times per second while the hummingbird is in flight! This rapid-fire wing movement produces the hummingbird’s “hum,” and allows them to fly in any direction, including backward.
The male’s fiery gorget, or throat patch, is ruby-colored; hence the name! At times, the gorget can appear completely dark, but the jewel-like color ignites in ideal light conditions.
While away the hours watching hummingbirds hover at your Agastache, Cardinal Flower, Columbine, Lupines, Morning Glory, Salvia, Trumpet Creeper, Wild Bergamot, and several types of lilies. Rohsler’s experts can recommend the plant species that are best suited to the conditions in your garden, and may suggest even more flowers and shrubs to make sure you have the best hummingbird garden in your neighborhood.
Territorial and pugnacious, hummingbirds will defend their food (your flowers or feeder) with a great deal of energy. They are known for chasing off much larger birds to protect their nectar sources.
If you purchase a hummingbird feeder, keep it filled with homemade “nectar.” The recipe is simple: Dissolve one part table sugar in four parts boiling water. If all of the nectar does not fit in the feeder, the unused portion can be stored in the refrigerator.
For the well-being of the birds:
- Use only sugar and water
- Hang the feeders in the shade
- Keep the feeders away from housecats
- Consider using an ant guard
- Change the nectar regularly
- Keep the feeder clean
Feeders should be cleaned with hot water every three days, and even more frequently in hot weather. Do NOT use harsh detergents. Take care to prevent the nectar from becoming rancid, cloudy, or moldy. If mold does form, scrub it out with a brush. Get into those hard-to-reach spots by adding clean sand to the wash water.
Keep a close watch for visiting hummingbird species from other regions. Rufous, Allen’s, and Calliope hummingbirds are just a few of the accidentals that have been seen in our area.
Rohsler's Allendale Nursery
100 Franklin Tpke
Allendale, NJ 07401-2231