Flowers are that instinctive trigger that can instantly change the thoughts of a hummingbird from whatever it's doing to a desire for food. Colors mean food, and food is survival. There is nothing more important to hummingbirds than food because without it they wouldn't exist. They form territories based on food sources, and that should indicate that nothing should matter more to us for attracting them than multiple food sources. Adult birds have learned feeders and realize little effort is required to get a complete fill up every time they visit one. Much effort is required if they want to gain that same amount of food from flowers. It's survival 101 for all living creatures. Gain the most amount of food without having to expend much energy. Because young hummingbirds instinctively gravitate towards flowers, they are unaware that there is something even better out there.
This young bird followed its same routine every 30 minutes, feeding from the same flowers because it knew they contained food. So I added a training feeder among the Nasturtiums flowers to try and get its attention. It wasn't exact, but it did the trick after a few passes. Fear of the strange bottle attached forced the youngster to approach with a bit of caution, yet the colors created such intrigue. The juvenile soon plunged its long bill into the feeding port and life would be forever changed. It sat and drank as much as possible. Even then it refused to leave the feeder. It loved this beautiful red thing with the attached orange flowers and licked it from top to bottom. It eventually did leave, but when it returned, the feeder got its attention after a few frustrated attempts at the flowers. They just didn't compare.
Although abundant flowers are essential for hummingbirds for those times when feeders are no where to be found, hummingbirds will soon recognize just how important feeders are with their never ending supply of food.
This young Ruby-throat sat in the rain and admired its newfound treasure. The water started to bead on its feathers, but it was of little concern. N.E. of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. August 2017
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