Feeding hummingbirds is like feeding seed-eating birds. It's not necessary. Birds can find plenty of natural foods on their own. But we offer nectar to attract them to places where we can watch them simply because we enjoy them.
Another tip to pull in the early arrivals is to get one or two hanging flower baskets for the porch near the feeders. Colorful flowers, especially red ones, may attract attention when a single feeder does not.
And a great source of insects is rotten fruit. Place it in the hummingbird garden. Fruit flies love spoiled fruit, and hummers love fruit flies.
Another, and perhaps best, way to attract hummers is to plant native, nectar-bearing flowers. Trumpet honeysuckle, trumpetcreeper, cardinal flower, scarlet bee balm, eastern columbine, and spotted jewelweed are species to look for at a native plant nursery. By using these natural nectar producers, you can have wild backyard nectar all summer long.
Monitoring the pace of migration online is a great way to anticipate the arrival of other favorite species, too. Sites such as www.learner.org/jnorth feature a variety of maps tracking blooming milkweed, monarch butterflies, Baltimore orioles, barn swallows, and many more. Track purple martins at www.purplemartin.org, and chimney swift aficionados can track their progress at www.chimneyswifts.org.
Send questions and comments to Dr. Scott Shalaway, RD 5, Cameron, WV 26033 or by email via my web site, http://scottshalaway.googlepages.com