Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) are the most widely ranging of the world’s 338 species of hummingbirds, all of which nest ONLY in the Western Hemisphere. Spring migration patterns bring them to the Chicagoland area around late April to early May. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is often found in the ecotome, or edge between woodland and meadow. In this habitat the birds are closer to large, mature trees, where they will usually nest, as well as near lots of flowering plants that supply nectar and support small insects, both of which make up its diet. It is a bird that has adapted very well to human development, but only if there is shelter, space and food. They are found more frequently in and around hardwood forests than among pines when breeding. There is no question that hummingbirds make use of the sugar water from your feeders as a source of quick energy. However, they rely most on nectar from plants, where they may also be consuming tiny insects and spiders, both great sources of protein for the hummingbird. Some experts actually think of hummingbirds as insectivorous birds that happen to also eat plant nectar. Other studies have shown that at their wintering grounds in the tropics, hummingbirds eat far more insect matter then plant nectar.
Purchase a nectar feeder specifically designed for hummingbirds. Alsip Home & Nursery carries one of the largest selections of hummingbird feeders and food you can find. Purchase nectar mixes such as those made by Droll Yankee or mix your own nectar at home (4 parts water to 1 part sugar, boil for 1 minute just until sugar dissolves then cool prior to putting in feeder). Hummingbird feeders are meant to hang. So place them in a location where it is convenient for you to refill as well as view your new guests. They are best if also located out of the wind and in the shade.
Good Plants for a Hummingbird Garden
Hummingbirds are more likely to be attracted to plants that are in areas protected from heavy winds. They are attracted to plants that are red and orange in flower color. They also are specially adapted to feed from plants that have tubular or trumpet shaped flowers.
Buddleia (Butterfly Bush)
Heuchera (Coral Bells)
Lobelia (Cardinal Flower)
Monarda (Bee Balm)
Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)
Polygonatum (Solomon’s Seal)
Campsis radicans (Trumpet Creeper)
Trees Betula (Birch)