Although hummingbirds have been given the most powerful tool of instinct, their ability to learn is still necessary in figuring out many things they will encounter throughout their lifetime. Simple flowers, such as Zinnias, are an easy poke and taste flower, but some are much trickier. Snap dragons, for instance, need to be pried open, oftentimes seen with bumblebees, but are not often solved or worth the effort by hummingbirds. Every type of flower has its own unique entrance to the sweet nectar, and if hummingbirds want it, they'll need to figure out the access. This is why trumpet shaped flowers are usually the type that very young hummingbirds are first seen at. Once they figure of the entrance to all flowers, they will determine which ones provide the finest nectar. My personal favorite for hummingbirds is Delphiniums. They are a magnet for them. Of all the flowers I've tried and tested, Delphiniums always remain at the top of the list for hummingbirds, even if I have many of their other favorites available. These flowers are not always an option in many other regions, but when you find a flower that is a proven winner, stick with it and go heavy on them throughout your garden.
I've just received about 8 young hummingbirds in my garden over the last week. It took until yesterday for all of those young to solve my feeders. If I didn't have a great selection of Delphiniums, or other favorites, those young birds may have moved on without solving the feeders, and once they solve the feeders, they're your's.This is the reason that both flowers and feeders are necessary.
Here is one of many captures from just one hour of sitting in the Delphiniums. August 5, 2019. N.E. of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Juvenile Ruby-throat hummingbird.
Author of Jewel of the North. Please post your comments and questions.