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Hummingbirds and Gardening for Them

Since the mid-1980s Yvonne has maintained a registered NWF backyard wildlife habitat where a variety of birds, insects and frogs abound.


How to Create a Hummingbird Garden and Information About Hummingbirds

Who wouldn't want to attract hummingbirds to their yard? Hummingbird feeders will help bring them into view, but to sustain them it is necessary to provide nectar plants for them. Planting a Hummingbird Garden full of nectar rich flowering plants will also attract butterflies and other pollinators. The following recommended plants will do well in the Lower Gulf Coast region where the weather is hot and humid, but since many are native to the U.S., will grow well in other parts of the country, too.

Please use the table of contents to quickly visit a particular part of this lengthy article.

You'll find plenty of information about attracting and feeding hummingbirds as well as about the breeding cycle and migration habits. There are many photographs of those beautiful flying jewels and the plants that they love, too. You'll even find something about hummingbird moths and festivals here.

All photographs are the property of Al and Y.L. Bordelon - All rights reserved

Male Ruby-Throated Bugging


Hummingbird Facts

Hummingbirds are marvelous and interesting little creatures.

We never tire of watching their antics. The lists 17 species of hummingbirds in the United States. The largest on the list is the Blue-throated weighing in at 8.4 g for the male and 6.8 g for the female. The second largest (and some people think it's a tie) is the Magnificent Hummingbird weighing in at 7.7 g for the male and 6.4 g for the female. The smallest is the Calliope Hummingbird weighing in at 2.5 g for the male and 2.83 g for the female.

The most common hummingbird in Louisiana and most of the Eastern United States is the Ruby-throated. It is a medium sized bird measuring 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) long and weighing about 1/8 ounce (3.1 g). These are the only hummingbirds that breed in the Eastern United States.

Hummingbird Nest


Male Taking Flight


Hummingbird nests are tiny, about the size of half a walnut and are very well camouflaged with lichen, spider webs and plant down. The female builds the nest on a branch of a small tree, very often over or near a body of water. She rears the young all by herself, while the male does important stuff like defending his favorite patch of flowers or feeder.

In Louisiana we begin seeing the first fledglings in early June. They are as big as the parents (bigger than the male who is the smaller of the pair). You can tell fledglings from the adults by the way they act and also by the yellow "gape" on the corner of their mouth. All the immature hummingbirds look like the female, but the young males have a "5 o'clock shadow" like stippling on their throat and often a few red feathers will also be present. Soon the young males are staking out their own territory containing a patch of their favorite flowers or feeder.



Immature Male Ruby-Throated


These and most of the other hummingbird photos that you see on this page are available in our Naturally Native Gallery on Zazzle. Just click on the photo to take you there.

The adult males are the first to leave in late summer on their trip to their wintering grounds in Central America. The females and the immature birds leave later and by October most of the North American Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have left N.A.


Mizell's Butterfly and Hummingbird Extravaganza

Each September, on the Saturday after Labor Day, Mizell Farms welcomes butterfly and hummingbird lovers to their nursery for the annual Butterfly and Hummingbird Festival. This is the peak time for the fall migration of our Ruby-throated hummingbirds and a time when the butterflies are plentiful. Events include speakers, hummingbird banding, visiting the butterfly house, touring the nature trail, plant related activities for the children, a butterfly release, food and several booths operated by local vendors. The festival is a great "one tank" family trip for anyone who lives in the Gulf South.

For more information about this fun, family festival in Folsom, LA visit our Mizell's Butterfly and Hummingbird Extravaganza lens.

Hummingbird Nest from Egg to Fledging

Hummingbird Moth on Wild Bergamot


Hummingbird Moth on Pickerel Weed


Is It a Baby Hummingbird or a Moth?

One may think there's a tiny little baby hummingbird flying among the flowers, but more than likely it's a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth. This moth will feed during the day and it's shape, coloration and scaleless wings give it the appearance of a small hummingbird. There are two common varieties of this attractive and interesting member of the Sphinx moth family.

The two types of North American Hummingbird Moths are very hard to tell apart. One type is the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth, which (as you can tell by its name) resembles a small hummingbird. The other is the Snowberry Clearwing Moth which actually looks more like a large bumblebee, than a hummingbird. The ranges of both species overlap quite a bit, so you can have both in a given location.

Here are a couple of photos of the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth by naturegirl7:

Rufous Female




Winter Hummingbirds in the South

Rufous Female Hummingbird by naturegirl7

Not all hummingbirds migrate all the way to Central America. In Louisiana and in other states along the Gulf Coast, western species of hummingbirds like Rufous, Allens, Calliope, Buff-bellied, Black-chinned, Anna's and an occasional immature Ruby-throat spend the winter. We call these our "winter hummingbirds". We leave our feeders up all year long and some of the plants that we have in our garden are planted especially for these little visitors.

From August through the winter months, the hummingbird lists are buzzing with sightings of "winter" hummingbirds in people's yards. A hummingbird that stays after November 15 is officially counted as a winter hummingbird. There is even a tally kept of the first observed and the last observed sightings.

Some hummingbird gardeners go to great lengths to accommodate their winter visitors and have been known to construct "greenhouses" of plastic on a large roll that can be rolled out over the blooming plants when a freeze warning is out and then rolled back up when the freeze is over. We plant winter hummer plants close to the house and in protected areas and we also enclose a little carport on the south side of the house in plastic that can be raised or lowered depending on the temperature. Yes, we love our hummers.


Hummingbird Food

Hummingbirds drink nectar from plants, but they also get a lot of nutrition from the tiny insects that they eat, especially during breeding season. Flowering and fruiting plants, like Pear trees, can attract these tiny insects. Putting out banana peels or starting a compost pile are other easy ways to provide tiny insects for hummingbirds. Misting water features that wet the leaves of nearby plants will also provide moist places that both tiny insects and hummers like.

Fall Migration


Hummingbird feeders come in all shapes and sizes and have plenty of red parts to attract hummers. It is unnecessary and may even be harmful to add red food coloring to the sugar water solution. The premixed varieties that you buy in the store are more expensive and most have harmful, red coloring added.

It is much better all around to mix your own "hummingbird juice" using a ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part white, granulated sugar. It does not have to be boiled. We just use tap water and mix it in a large measuring cup, then pour it right into the feeders with no mess.

Hummer juice can ferment and the feeders should be refilled each week (sooner during hot weather). Feeders should be cleaned with a mild chlorine bleach solution when they start to look cloudy or moldy. Don't soak the plastic or metal parts more than an hour or they will become brittle or corroded. Rinse well after soaking. There are also special brushes on the market if you feel the need to get them REALLY clean, but keep in mind that as soon as the first little flying jewel sticks its tongue in, bacteria has been introduced. Such is the way of nature.

Migration Oil Painting



And the humming-bird that hung

Like a jewel up among

The tilted honeysuckle horns

They mesmerized and swung

In the palpitating air,

Drowsed with odors strange and rare.

And, with whispered laughter, slipped away

And let him hanging there.

James Whitcomb Riley

from The South Wind and the Sun


Perky Pet 8 oz. Feeder

This is the feeder that we use the most. In fact we have about 20 of them. The parts are interchangeable, so when one breaks, you can cannibalize it. During breeding season, the 8 oz. capacity is enough, but during migration, we more up to the larger sizes.

The Hummingbird

by Fiona McKimmy

Came the spring, I picked a corner and

set my mind to making a flower

garden in the midst of this mass of

weeds unattended through

Winters toughening of the soil.

I tilled, and pulled, and turned, and broke, and bled...

The soil was perfect now...

But, alas! The puppy was fervent in her efforts to help me dig!

So I cut, and I sawed, and I nailed,

and created the most beautiful little picket fence with a gate.....

and planted a tree......

and planted my flowers...

and tended and watered and weeded

and nurtured all through the Spring and Summer months....

To this day, this perfect Autumn morning,

while standing in my doorway,

sipping that first cup of coffee....

I saw the fast-beating wings of that little faerie,

flitting from flower to flower...

was all worth it in that one moment.

Hummingbirds by the Pond Oil Painting


Nectar Plants to Grow - In the Hummingbird Garden


Gardening for Hummers

Red-Violet Louisiana Iris by naturegirl7

Our garden is an old fashioned garden that contains very few of the new hybrid plant varieties. We choose to sing the song of the lazy gardener so we stick to natives and easy to grow heirloom plants. Perennials and self-sowing annuals planted in mass predominate among the foundation of trees and shrubs. Plants are chosen for their high nectar content and tubular flowers so that both hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the garden.

Cypress Vine


Small Red Morning Glory


By using plants that are acclimated to our climate, the use of pesticides is unnecessary. In fact, pesticides, and herbicides are strongly discouraged. Instead organic and sustainable gardening techniques are used that take advantage of the natural cycle of life. During the spring and summer breeding ruby throats build their walnut sized nests along tree-lined waterways. At summer's end fall migration begins bringing thousands of hummingbirds through our area on their way south.

Good Plants

Ruby-throat Joy Postcard by naturegirl7

The following easy to grow plants will provide nectar for both hummers and butterflies from spring to fall. Pesticide free specimens of most of these can be found locally at nurseries, however, some are pass along plants that you may have to get from a friend.



Red Bud



Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)deciduous tree, full sun or under story, blooms early summer.

Red Maple (Acer rubrum) - native deciduous, sun to part sun, blooms in very early spring

Redbud (Cercis canadensis) - deciduous native tree, full sun or understory, blooms early spring.

Taiwan Cherry Blossoms


Taiwan Cherry Tree (Prunus spp.) - imported small deciduous tree, sun to part sun, blooms magenta colored flowers in very early spring

Witch Hazel


Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) - native large shrub or small tree, deciduous, part sun-shade, blooms in winter

Native Honeysuckle Azalea


Wild Blueberry



Azalea, Native - native shrub, part sun, deciduous, sweet smelling, blooms in spring

Blueberry, Wild & Cultivated, Huckleberry (Vaccinium spp.) - native, semi-evergreen, sun to part sun, blooms in very early spring

Red Buckeye


Coral Bean


Buckeye, Red (Aesculus pavia) - native large shrub, small tree, part shade, deciduous, blooms in early spring

Coral Bean (Erythrina herbacea) - native shrub, full sun, winter die back, blooms in mid spring



Fire Spike


Firebush  (Hamelia patens) - shrub, full sun, winter die back, blooms summer - fall

Firespike (Odontonema strictum) - winter die back, part sun/shade, blooms late summer-fall

Orange Abutilon


Red Hybrid Abutilon


Flowering Maple (Abutilon pictum, A. hybrididum) - shrub, partial shade, blooms spring - fall

Lemon Bottlebrush


Mexican Cigar


Lemon Bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus) - Large evergreen shrub, full sun, blooms whenever it's not freezing.

Mexican Cigar (Cuphea micropetala) - small shrub, some winter die back, full sun, blooms spring - fall

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) - large shrub / small tree, full sun, blooms in summer

Sasanqua (Camellia sasanqua) - imported evergreen shrub to small tree, part sun, blooms in fall

Winter Shrimp Plant


Mexican Shrimp


Summer Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana and Winter (Justicia spp.) - small shrub, winter die back, full sun, blooms spring - fall

Turk's Cap and Sulfur Butterfly


Texas Star Hibiscus


Sultan's Turban (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii) - native shrub, some winter die back, full sun-shade, blooms summer - fall

Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) - native shrub, tolerates wet areas, winter die back, full sun, blooms summer - fall

Sweet Olive


Winter Honeysuckle


Sweet Olive (Osmanthus frangrans) - imported, evergreen large shrub or small tree, blooms fall through spring in warm climates

Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) - imported, passalong weeping shrub, evergreen in warm climates, part sun to sun, blooms winter to early spring

Blue Jamaican Vervain


Coral Jamaican Vervain


Jamaican Vervain (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) Tropical shrub that will come back after a winter kill most of the time. Coral and blue spikes of flowers from spring until a freeze.



Firecracker Vine



Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) - native, evergreen, sun to part sun, blooms in early spring

Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) - annual, full sun, blooms late summer - fall

Firecracker Vine (Manettia cordifolia) - perennial, full sun/part shade, blooms early summer - fall

Hummingbird Gardens

Coral Honeysuckle


Trumpet Vine


Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) - perennial, full sun/part shade, blooms spring and fall

Trumpet Vine - native, full sun, blooms spring-summer, spreads rapidly and can be invasive

Cardinal Flower


Indian Pink


Perennials and Annuals

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), native perennial, likes moist areas, part sun, blooms late summer - fall

Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica) - native perennial, part sun, blooms

mid spring - summer



Spotted Jewelweed (Impatien capensis) - native annual in the Impatiens family, moist shade, blooms mid summer until frost. The leaves are used in soap to make a poison ivy remedy.

Salvia coccinea


Anise Sage


Anise Sage (Salvia guaranitica), Lady in Red or Coral Nymph (S. coccinea), Mexican Bush Sage (S. leucantha), Pineapple Sage (S. elegans) - perennials, full sun to part shade, blooms spring - fall

Winged Jewel


With wings spun of silver and hearts of gold,

These tiny creatures our hearts behold.

With angelic features and colors so bright,

Make even the heaviest heart seem light.

The magical way they flit through the sky,

They appear, then vanish in the blink of an eye.

They're sending a message for us to retrieve,

Anything's possible for those who believe!

The Wildlife Gardener's Guide to Hummingbirds and Songbirds..


Jewelled coryphee

With quivering wings like shielding gauze outspread.

Ednah Proctor Clarke (Hayes) from Humming-Bird


Hummingbirds of North America The Photographic Guide


The Hummingbirds

by Charlotte Smith

Minutest of the feathered kind,

Possessing every charm combined,

Nature, in forming thee, designed

A proof within how little space

She can comprise such perfect grace,

Rendering the lovely; fairy race

Hummingbird YouTube vids

Ode to a Hummingbird

by Laurence Overmire

Light shot through diaphanous wing

Fifty beats per second

Its long beak dipped in the flower of

Life's sweet nectar

Too fleet to see without an informative eye

A blur in the green gasp of forest needles

Yet when spied, delight

The happenstance of cat's catching

Fate's vivid colors dancing

In the rainbow shade

'Twixt day and night.

The Poetry of Laurence Overmire

Hummingbird Bathing Vid


A flash of harmless lightning,

A mist of rainbow dyes,

The burnished sunbeams brightening

From flower to flower he flies.

John Banister Tabb from Hummingbird


Costa Rican Hummingbirds

If you want to see a variety of the most beautiful hummingbirds in the world, then Costa Rica is the place for you. Besides hummingbirds, many of the neotropical song birds that we see in spring and summer, spend the winter there in the warm tropical rain forests and Mangrove swamps of Central America.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the places to visit. It is called a cloud forest rather than a rain forest because it is so high that the clouds go through the forest. The canopy is extremely rich with birds, insects, butterflies, and thousands of plants. Another winner is the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve which features great views of the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. It has habitat and wildlife similar to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, but is more pristine because of its higher elevation.

Costa Rican Wildlife Books

Little Imp Abutilon Flowers

"Little Imp" abutilon is a small, draping plant with rich nectar. It like moist soil and part shade.

"Little Imp" abutilon is a small, draping plant with rich nectar. It like moist soil and part shade.

More About Hummers

  • Winged Jewels - Hummingbirds of Winter
    Many western hummingbird species spend the winter in Louisiana. Here you'll find info and photos of Rufous, Allen's, Black-chinned, Broad-tailed, Calliope and Buff-bellied that wintered in our yard.
  • Banding a Hummingbird
    This is a pictorial glimpse into the life of a Rufous hummingbird who arrived before Thanksgiving in Louisiana, was captured, banded and released in February, 2010. A quiz is also included.

© 2008 Yvonne L B

Tell us about your experiences with Hummingbirds.

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on March 16, 2012:

Magical... watching birth through first flight. What a privilege. My hummers should be arriving any day now. Last year the first migrants got here so early that they experienced a major snowstorm. With the unseasonably warm weather lately, I fully expect birds to head north ahead of schedule. Can't wait! Thanks for getting me even more excited about their arrival with this wonderful collection of hummingbird magic. Appreciated!

b4ndit on January 08, 2012:

Nice lens ^_^

Sensitive Fern on May 30, 2011:

The hummingbirds love the wild columbine that grows in my flowerbeds. They don't stick around all summer, though. *Blessed and listed on my Creative Squid blog.

lemonsqueezy lm on April 01, 2011:

Lots of information here. I thought I wanted to attract bluebirds this year, but these hummingbirds might have won me over.

anonymous on August 06, 2010:

awesome video of young hummingbirds ... utterly amazing creatures and never cease to amaze and interest me, even though we only have the ruby throated. i'm sure the rest of the species have different quirks that would be interesting to observe too!

Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on April 28, 2010:

this is my first year to put up a hummingbird feeder. I appreciate you tips on the food. I noticed hummingbirds by some of my flowers last year, so I'm hoping by adding the feeder to attract even more. Lensrolled to my Missouri-country lens.

ohcaroline on April 28, 2010:

This is a great lens. You know your hummingbirds. 5*

ElizabethJeanAl on March 22, 2010:

Awesome lens!

5* and lensrolled to Plant a Hummingbird Garden.


dc64 lm on April 26, 2009:

Extremely beautiful lens, and something I'll take to heart when I plant this spring. I would love to encourage the Hummingbirds.

AppalachianCoun on April 20, 2009:

Wow what a wonderful lens. Thanks for all the work.

anonymous on March 13, 2009:

I've seen hummers in my yard and try to take their pictures, haven't been successful. Thanks for this lens and visit mine too when you have the chance. I love nature watching and gardening too!


photocards4all on February 09, 2009:

I used to live in Asunción, Paraguay (for 15 years) and the last 12 we lived in a lovely suburb called Villa Guaraní. We had humming birds visit us most days (except a few cold days in the winter when they would hide somewhere warm, I guess!)

These are extraordinary birds, so FAST and so beautiful.

There are a few of ny photos here and I sell them here

dustytoes on December 31, 2008:

You have some wonderful hummingbird photos here. I just love these little guys and begin feeding in May here in the northeastern US. They always show up right away! 5 *****

burntchestnut on December 27, 2008:

I've been feeding hummingbirds for years. It's amazing how in the spring they'll hover around where you hung the feeders last year and remind you it's time to fill them up again!

marsha32 on November 21, 2008:

hummingbirds are the neatest things, thanks for sharing

ElizabethJeanAl on November 01, 2008:

Welcome to The Totally Awesome Lenses Group.


EpicFarms on October 30, 2008:

Lovely lens ~ very informative! Hummingbirds are so cool to watch :o) 5*

ElizabethJeanAl on October 25, 2008:

Hummingbirds are so cool, but they get testy if you let the feeder go empty. One dive bombed my head every time I came out the back door. Once I refilled the feeder, he left me alone.

Great lens


Stephanie from DeFuniak Springs on September 20, 2008:

Really Nice Lens! I have lensrolled it! 5*

blue22d on September 19, 2008:

Thanks Naturegirl7 for this lens. I love hummingbirds and have a small spot on them on my lens: Things I love. Truly a great, fun lens. Five stars and a lenroll to ya.

AlisonMeacham on September 17, 2008:

I see a lot of hummingbirds in our garden. They are so beautiful.

You have been Blessed by a Squid Angel

youhavegottobekidding on August 28, 2008:

Humming Birds are really amazing Creatures, especially the way the get their food "Floating Through Air" Like angel.

James20 on August 20, 2008:


My Dad would be right by the hummingbird feeder and the hummingbirds would not be afraid of him......

Just thinking, this September 1 it will be one year of his passing.

Thanks for this moment.


Stinky LM on August 20, 2008:

Love your lens! Especially the hummers hatch to fledge. Great job!

SPF on July 17, 2008:

Really great lens. A welcome addition to my Backyard Habitat group. Please consider submitting some of your other lenses to the group as well. I saw some that would be relevant!

CherylsArt on July 12, 2008:

Humming birds are so awesome. Thanks for coming to Zazzlers Who Squidoo.

Amanda Blue on July 10, 2008:

What a fine idea it is to have a Hummingbird Garden and what a lovely lens this is! 5* and favorited.

Ruth Coffee from Zionsville, Indiana on July 08, 2008:

Fabulous pictures and good information here. We have hummingbirds fly into our garage frequently. Unfortunately they often can't figure out how to leave. On many occasions I simply have to grab them and put them outside. Soooo tiny.

coopd on June 28, 2008:

You have a very nice lens full of wonderful pictures and information. I am fortunate to have plenty of hummingbird sightings on my land. They are amazing little creatures. Did you know hummingbirds are able to assess the amount of sugar in the nectar they eat? They reject flower types that produce nectar which is less than 12% sugar and prefer those whose sugar content is around 25% :) 5*

CliveAnderson LM on June 09, 2008:

It is a real shame really, I have managed to attract all kinds of birds and animals to my garden, but I don't think I'll ever be lucky enough to attract such beauties as these guys. I think living in the UK may just have something to do with it. They may find it a little on the chilly side.

Loved the lens though really interesting and very informative, top stuff, thank you.

Kind Regards

Clive Anderson

ElizabethJeanAl on May 31, 2008:

Great lens! I love the hummingbirds.

5* and a lensroll to Create a Backyard Bird Sanctuary and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.


triathlontraini1 on May 26, 2008:

I love Humming Birds. They're a rare treat to see. Great lens! 5*'s.

eccles1 on May 21, 2008:

I was just wondering what to plant out my back yard for the hummingbirds and I found this lens ! thank you

spiritartist on May 14, 2008:

Any Hummer lover is a friend of mine! Looks like our hearts and lenses on the same track! Lets keep those hummers happy! I enjoyed my visit.... Gotta go now and fill those feeders.

LeslieBrenner on May 09, 2008:

Saw a female hummingbird attending to her eggs once. They were so tiny. But there aren't many hummingbirds in NYC.

Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on May 01, 2008:

One summer day I watched a female hummingbird sitting on an asparagus frond while her mate did swooping figure 8's in front of her. It was a spectacular show. Hummingbirds are amazing creatures.

rebeccahiatt on April 26, 2008:

Thank you for such a great lens. I love hummingbirds now I know how to nuture them

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