This article appears in August Family magazine.
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With their delicate size and incredible wing speed, hummingbirds are nature’s little wonders. With a few tips you can attract them to your backyard.

“Hummingbirds are only found in the Americas,” said Richard Cole, birding expert and founder of Cole’s Wild Bird Products. “There are 17 hummingbird species that regularly nest in North America plus several others that have been observed here. Of those 17 species the ruby-throated hummingbird is the most common in overall range and probably in numbers.”
The ruby-throated hummingbird’s range extends from Florida up into Canada and westward into the central states.

“The rufous and the black-chinned are the runner-ups, being found in most of the Western states,” Cole said.

Depending on the size of the hummingbird, its wings can flap from about 700 beats per minute to over 5,000 beats per minute, Cole said. They can move in every direction or simply hover in the air.
The right plants, feeders

To make your yard a hummingbird haven, plant flowers attractive to them such as trumpet honeysuckle, bee balm, salvia, fuschia and sage. When shopping for plants, look for those marked with a hummingbird symbol, Cole said.

“Most often when hummingbirds come to flowers they are looking for nectar. That is a sweet fluid, approximately 20 percent sugars, produced by a wide range of flowers. These plants tend to have tubular-shaped flowers that limit bees and other insects’ access to the nectar, leaving more for the birds,” Cole said.

Hummingbirds also visit flowers that do not produce nectar in search of insects, which are a large portion of their diet.

“Insects provide the proteins and nectar provides additional fuel to sustain their high metabolism,” Cole said.

A hummingbird feeder is a must-have and one of the most effective ways of attracting hummingbirds to visit your yard, Cole said. Look for one that’s red (an attractive color to hummingbirds) with elevated perches. Hang it in a tree, patio or garden space.

“Although not necessary, it is better to have the feeders mostly in the shade. The nectar will last longer if it stays cooler,” Cole said. “Under a porch eave or shade tree is a good place. Another good idea is to have several feeders visually separated from the others to help prevent more aggressive birds from dominating all the feeders. And, of course, place the feeders where you can see the birds.”
Add a water feature because hummingbirds adore bathing.

“If you add a drip fountain or mister to your yard, they’ll bask in the wet wonder,” Cole said.
Food
Nectar that mimics what hummingbirds eat in the wild is easy to make: Mix 1/4 cup of plain table sugar into 1 cup of warm tap water. Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved and pour into a clean feeder.

“You do not need and should not use red food coloring. Most hummingbird feeders have enough red on them to attract the birds,” Cole said.

Clean feeders and replace nectar often.

“If the nectar is not crystal clear it is time to change it. The hotter the weather, the more frequently nectar needs to be changed. Every two to four days is an average,” Cole said.