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Tennessee’s smallest birds returning from their wintering grounds in South America, you can help them by putting out a hummingbird feeder.  With an inexpensive feeder, hummingbirds can be attracted to just outside your window, even in urban areas.

    Hummingbirds feed on the nectar of flowers, so feeders are filled with sugar water with mineral supplements added.  The feeders have an imitation flower that attracts the little birds and provides them with a place to feed.

    The ruby-throated hummingbird, which spends its summers in the eastern United States, has been timed at speeds up to sixty miles per hour with wing beats of more than 75 strokes per second.  Not only do they hover, fly backward, and shift sideways, but they can also fly straight up and down.  In summer, males establish feeding territories from which they chase, very aggressively, not only their own kind, but even bumblebees which come to feed.  Males guard their feeding territories by spectacular, swinging, pendulum-like flights, or intimidation displays.

    Hummingbirds must feed almost continuously all day to remain alive. Besides flower nectar, hummingbirds get the protein they need by eating small beetles, weevils, bugs, mosquitoes, aphids and spiders.

    Hummingbird feeders may be hung anywhere in a conspicuous place.  Once the feeders have been erected, it may take a week or two for the hummingbirds to find the feeders.  Be sure to change the nectar solution weekly and clean the feeder often to prevent the growth of bacteria.  Bacterial growth can harm hummingbirds if it is ingested.

    For a more natural food supply, plant domestic flowers such as azalea, begonia, gladiolus, geranium, snapdragon, petunia, nasturtium and others with tubular red or orange flowers.  Some native flowers that can be transplanted include jewelweed, cardinal flower and phlox.  Other flowering plants and trees preferred by hummingbirds include honeysuckle and mimosa.


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