Hummingbirds are appearing everywhere across the continent now, but often times it's difficult to differentiate the young from the adults. Most adult birds will spend 90 percent of their time sipping sweet nectar from the never ending source of easy food, while the young are new to the world and focus on what they've been designed to do, pollinate. That's until they learn the grown up food, feeders. No hummingbird will ever give up the natural bounty provided to them throughout the fields of wildflowers, but feeders are a way we can attract them to our gardens and provide them with an unlimited source of food, especially during tough weather times.
This time of year young will be dancing from one garden to the next looking for color and food. I've always mentioned the extreme value of feeders to keep adult birds around our gardens, but flowers are vital this time of year. Young birds may learn feeders quickly or it may take several days or even weeks to learn from the adults or other youngsters brave enough to have already sipped the potion. But until they solve the feeder mystery, flowers, and lots of them, are vital to keeping young birds around your garden. You can have one great flower or a field of poppies, and a hummingbird will always choose the great one! It's crucial to load up on lots of their favorites. If you have enough great flowers to keep a hummingbird busy all day in your garden, it's extremely probable it'll be back repeatedly, or seldom leave your garden.
Here's a young hummingbird that nearly stands on its head to taste the nectar within the Zinnia flower. Adults will choose the easy way to feed, whether flowers or feeders, but the young will get themselves into a real bind if they see something that interests them.
Juvenile Ruby-throated Hummingbird Male. August 10th, 2017. N.E. of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Author of Jewel of the North. Please post your comments and questions.