Flowers will be extremely important to young hummingbirds about to leave the nest in the Northern regions of their territory, while many have already left the nest in the South. Along the West Coast 2nd and 3rd broods are even near completion. Those young birds will naturally be attracted to flowers and soon be on to feeders. There are always threats to young hummingbirds, especially in the first few weeks of their life. Young birds are extremely naive. They will hover near the ground and get into all kinds of trouble. They are clueless to the fact that predators lurk in the plants as well as in the sky. It's very important to remember this when placing out feeders and flowers. One of the most important things you can do in helping young hummingbirds is raising feeders to at least 4 feet off the ground, while 6 to 8 feet would be optimum. It's a bit more difficult to raise all your flowers, but it is possible to hang baskets or raise pots off the ground on to plant stands. Give them as much height as possible, and plant taller varieties of their favorites. Within the next few weeks of their life they'll quickly learn to feed and rest with at least one eye open. Other hummingbirds will put the fear in them and they'll quickly become aware of everything that moves in and around the garden. But before that time happens they are extremely vulnerable. Needless to say, many of the same locations that have hummingbird feeders and flowers usually have cats in those same yards. Hummingbirds become extremely aware of dangers from the sky, but far too many young birds are taken from ground predators. Statistics tell us that approximately 40 percent of hummingbirds won't make it through their first year. That's an alarming number especially when they only have 2 young per brood. So please be aware of this when you are attracting hummingbirds to your garden. They may be fast birds, but they have far too many dangers from all directions.
A mid-summer flower that always gets the attention of the adult hummingbirds is the Siberian Iris. Although most Iris flowers don't often times attract hummingbirds, this particular variety does get their attention. They grow to about 30-36 inches tall. In my area of the continent, Delphiniums are an absolute favorite perennial. They bloom around the time the young hummingbirds leave the nest and they provide an enormous amount of nectar. They also grow to about 7 or 8 feet in certain varieties, while a few grow to about 3 feet without the need for staking.
Author of Jewel of the North. Please post your comments and questions.