Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures, known for their unique ability to hover in mid-air and flap their wings at high speeds. If you enjoy watching these beautiful birds in your garden, you might be interested in providing them with a variety of food sources to keep them happy and healthy. While sugar water is the most popular hummingbird food, there are many other foods that you can offer to these tiny birds. In this article, we will explore some alternative foods that hummingbirds love.
Natural Diet of Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds are primarily nectarivorous, meaning their natural diet consists mainly of flower nectar. Nectar provides them with the necessary energy for their active lifestyle. However, these remarkable birds also require essential nutrients such as proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, which are not found in abundance in nectar alone. Offering additional food sources can help meet these nutritional needs.
While sugar water is a popular choice for attracting hummingbirds, you can also encourage their presence by planting a variety of nectar-rich flowers. Native flowers such as bee balm, salvia, columbine, penstemon, and trumpet vine are excellent choices. These flowers provide not only nectar but also additional nutrients in the form of pollen and tiny insects that may be present on the flowers.
Hummingbirds are not just nectar feeders; they also need a source of protein in their diet. Insects are an excellent source of protein for hummingbirds, and they will actively seek out insects in your garden. You can attract insects to your garden by planting flowering plants that attract pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. You can also hang a bug zapper in your garden to attract insects.
Another food that hummingbirds enjoy is fruit juice. You can offer them natural fruit juices, such as apple or grape juice, by mixing it with water in a 4:1 ratio. You should avoid fruit juices that contain added sugar or preservatives, as these can be harmful to hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds have been known to feed on tree sap, which is rich in nutrients and minerals. If you have maple trees in your garden, you can offer hummingbirds a supply of tree sap by tapping the trees in the spring. You can purchase a tree tap and collect the sap in a container, which you can then place in your garden.
Softened Dried Fruit
Hummingbirds also enjoy eating soft, dried fruits, such as raisins and currants. Soak the dried fruit in water to soften it before offering it to hummingbirds. You can also mix the softened fruit with a bit of sugar water to make it more attractive to the birds.
Nectar concentrates, available in stores and online, are another option to provide food for hummingbirds besides sugar water. These concentrates are made of natural flower nectars and can be mixed with water to create a nectar solution.
When offering alternative food sources to hummingbirds, it is crucial to follow these guidelines:
Avoid the use of pesticides and insecticides in your garden, as these can be harmful or fatal to hummingbirds and the insects they rely on.
Maintain good hygiene by regularly cleaning feeders and removing any spoiled or contaminated food sources.
Provide fresh, clean water for hummingbirds to drink and bathe.
In conclusion, there are many different foods that you can offer to hummingbirds besides sugar water. Providing a variety of food sources will help keep these tiny birds healthy and happy in your garden. Insects, fruit juice, tree sap, softened dried fruit, and nectar from flowers are all great alternatives to sugar water that will attract hummingbirds to your garden. Remember to always offer fresh food and clean your feeders regularly to avoid the growth of harmful bacteria.