Not everyone on Earth gets to enjoy these beautifully entertaining, bug-eating buzzers, but we can, by offering sheltered nesting spots, moving water and nectar-rich blooms.
IF YOU DON’T have hummingbirds in your garden, you’re missing out on a truly fun, and especially opportune, feature of gardening: Hummingbirds are found only in the Western Hemisphere from Chile to Alaska, and don’t exist on any other continent. (The Mayans believed hummingbirds were created from the colorful scraps left over when the gods made all the other birds.)
Besides their beauty, hummingbirds also are incredible fliers. Capable of flapping their wings close to 80 times per second, they’re the only birds that can remain stationary in the air, and can even fly backward and upside-down.
Anna’s and Rufous are the two hummingbirds most often seen in the Puget Sound region. Anna’s are the bigger of the two, and the most prevalent here. They’re bright green, and the head and gorget (throat feathers) of the male are iridescent red when seen in sunshine, while the female has a small red patch on her throat. Anna’s often perform an incredible mating ritual: From a dead stop in midair, the male suddenly will take off, flying full-speed, straight up, to well over 100 feet in the air. Then he locks his wings into his sides and goes into a death-defying dive. Just before he splats like a ripe tomato on the patio, he pulls up and misses the cement by a fraction of an inch. What us guys have to do for love! Anna’s rarely migrate, so with a little luck, there’s a good chance you’ll get to watch them perform their antics year-round.
Rufous are the smallest hummingbirds in North America. The males are copper-orange, and in sunshine their gorgets glow brilliant orange-red. The female is mostly green with a touch of orange on her sides, and she has a small iridescent orange spot on her throat. Every spring and fall, Rufous hummingbirds migrate…