Tag Archives: hummingbirds

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth on beebalm © Lynne Harding

Take 5: Pollinator Power

It’s National Pollinator Week! This is a time to celebrate pollinators and raise awareness about how to protect them. So what are pollinators?

Pollinators are creatures that help plants reproduce by spreading a powdery material called pollen among flowers of the same species when the sticky pollen attaches to their bodies—many pollinators have evolved to be extra “hairy” so even more pollen will stick to them. Animals like bees, butterflies, moths, birds, and bats pollinate a majority of fruits and vegetables (i.e. non-grain crops) used in agriculture. But pollinators don’t just help plants; they rely on plants to survive and reproduce, sourcing critical nutrients from energy-rich nectar and protein-rich pollen.

Meet the Pollinators

There are many different types of pollinators in Massachusetts—bees are best-known for their pollinating prowess, but other insects such as wasps, butterflies, moths, and some flies and beetles, as well as birds like hummingbirds, are important pollinators, too. Nectar-feeding bats also pollinate plants, but are not typically found in Massachusetts—our native bats are mostly insectivores.

Read more about pollinators and what you can do to help them on our website and enjoy these five photos of pollinators that you might spot hovering around the flowers in your neighborhood this summer.

Green Sweat Bee on Viburnum sp.
Green Sweat Bee on Viburnum sp.
Hummingbird Clearwing Moth on beebalm © Lynne Harding
Hummingbird Clearwing Moth on beebalm © Lynne Harding
Digger Wasp on spotted beebalm © Christine Ceranowicz
Digger Wasp on spotted beebalm © Christine Ceranowicz
Ruby-throated Hummingbird feeding on trumpet honeysuckle © Sue Feldberg
Ruby-throated Hummingbird feeding on trumpet honeysuckle © Sue Feldberg
Great Spangled Fritillary © Robin Fenton
Great Spangled Fritillary on Ageratum sp. © Robin Fenton

Say Hello to Hummingbirds

Copyright Richard ReynoldsThere are many highlights of spring bird migration, but it’s often one of the smallest birds that makes the biggest impression!

Every year in late April, early May ruby-throated hummingbirds return to Massachusetts after spending their winter in Central America.

Identifying Hummingbirds

The male ruby-throated hummingbird is unmistakable, with glossy green feathers and a stunning red “gorget” (the area below the beak) that glitters like its namesake. The females may lack the ruby throat, but they are just as easy to ID: this species is the type of hummingbird that nests in the eastern United States.

Attracting Hummingbirds

To bring these jewel-like birds to your yard, make sure there’s lots of food on hand—and we mean a lot. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, they consume their own weight in sugar water or nectar every day, and that’s on top of thousands of insects.

A hummingbird feeder is a good way to start. A few tips:

  • If you haven’t put the feeder out already, do so now. Our experts note that you can put out hummingbird feeders as early as the last week in April, but early May works just as well.
  • Make your own nectar by combining 4 parts boiling water with 1 part sugar. Make sure it’s cool before you put it in the feeder; save leftovers in the fridge.
  • The color of the nectar is not important. It’s the red color of the feeding port that attracts the hummingbirds.
  • Clean your feeder at least once a week.
  • Don’t fret about ants in your feeder. The hummingbirds will eat them for lunch!

You can also grow flowers that provide nectar for hummingbirds. Two options are native bee balm (Monarda) and purple coneflowers (Echinacea). If you have the space, try to plant different flower varieties so that there are blooms throughout the warm months. Your hummingbirds will be happy, and you will be, too.

Do you attract hummingbirds to your yard? Tell us how in the comments! And be sure to report any hummingbird sightings in our Hummingbird Reporting Tool.

Need a feeder? Pick one up either at the Audubon Shop in Lincoln or order one online.

Photo © Richard Reynolds