A rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) hovers on Saltspring Island. (Ryan Bushby / Wikimedia Commons)

GARDEN: How to give hummingbirds a helping hand

Cloverdale Garden Club president Nancy Kramer on how to best care for hummingbirds

Nancy Kramer

Cloverdale Reporter

As we enter spring and the red-flowering currant blooms, my favourite bird, the rufous hummingbird, returns to my garden to amaze me with its stunt flying.

With a decrease in wildlife habitat across the province, it is becoming more important for people to provide sources of food for backyard creatures, including hummingbirds. A hummingbird feeder is excellent, but I like to provide natural food, such as red-flowering currant, my favourite shrub, for my favourite avian visitors.

Red-flowering currant is a shrub native to British Columbia. It can grow up to three meters in height and its leaves resemble small maple leaves, with three to five lobes. The shrub’s crowning glory is the masses of bright, pink-red flowers that bloom from March to May. The red-flowering currant prefers sun or partial shade and well-drained, moderately fertile soil. Once established it is drought tolerant. And best of all, hummingbirds just love it.

Some other shrubs that will attract hummingbirds are weigela and buddleia. Both shrubs will grow in the same conditions as the red-flowering currant. As an added bonus, “Wine and Roses” weigela has dark purple foliage as well as pink flowers, making it an attractive addition to your garden. It grows up to two meters in height with an equal spread.

Trumpet vine and honeysuckle vine also attract hummingbirds. Both are fast growing and need the support of a trellis or arbor. Some honeysuckles have a fragrance, so it is best to purchase them when they are flowering so you can judge if the scent is to your preference.

There are numerous perennials that attract hummingbirds. Look for ones that have red flowers and trumpet-like flowers such as bee balm, montbretia, columbines, or beardtongue.

Hummingbirds love water, especially if it’s moving. A gentle, continuous spray from a nozzle or a sprinkler hose is perfect for a bath on the fly. If you have the space, a pond with a water fountain is perfect for attracting birds.

If you have the right plants in your garden, hummingbirds will hopefully nest. They prefer conifers such as the western red cedar to build their nest, but they will adapt to whatever they can find. A hummingbird’s nest is very small and hard to spot. They are constructed using moss and spider webs.

In addition to rufous hummingbirds, we also have Anna’s hummingbirds, which overwinter here on the coast.

Anna’s hummingbirds are a bit larger than the rufous, but the easiest way to spot the difference is that the Anna’s humming bird has a fuchsia pink throat while the rufous has an orange-red throat.

They eat mainly insects in the winter, but it doesn’t hurt to provide them with a feeder. If you do, make sure that you fill it and clean it on a regular basis.

Nancy Kramer is the president of the Cloverdale Garden Club. The next garden club meeting will be this Thursday, March 12, from 7:15 to 9:15 p.m. at Don Christian Recreation Centre (6220 184 Street).



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

DW Poppy Sr. boys basketball defeats ACSS Totems rivals

DW Poppy’s Sr. boys RedHawks defeated ACSS Totems this Friday in a high-stakes basketball match.

VIDEO: All ages participate in Langley Hospice Historic Half marathon

Turnout was down, slightly, this year but donations are up

LETTER: Langley man says Wilson-Raybould deserves Canadians’ respect

A letter writer said the former federal justice minister is one of a rare class of politicians.

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants blank Rockets

Langley-based G-men take over top spot in the west

Langley Township goes high tech to spotlight local history

To mark the start of History Week, the Township has put out a new app all about the community.

VIDEO: Langley hosting high-flying fun at annual gymnastics tournament

Action runs Friday through Sunday at the Langley Events Centre fieldhouse.

Pedestrian in serious condition after hit by car downtown Abbotsford

A youth was also hit, suffered minor injuries, police say

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

The can’t decide the pipeline’s fate until a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

Most Read