Checking in from the book-writing trenches to report the results of my informal Monday morning poll of our 2011 hummingbirds’ favorite plants blooming right now at Turkey Hill Brook Farm. We had a late spring in central MA, and a lot of earlier spring wild flowers are still blooming along with the June regulars such as iris, foxglove and peonies…
Number #1: Eastern red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) easily wins first prize with the hummingbirds. No surprise there – you can see their red tubular flowers are the perfect shape for them to probe for nectar:
Red columbine are also one of my favorite New England wild flowers because they reseed here and there around the farm where conditions are right. Truly locally-adapted plants that need no tending from me!
#2: Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) – another red tubular flower perfectly adapted to the long bill and tongue of a hummingbird. This vine covers one of the fences near our veggie gardens and as I stood watering plants this weekend, I was witness to some quite violent dogfights between the hummingbirds, all claiming this patch as their own….yikes!
#3: Our feeder. OK, it’s not a plant, but we always hang a red hummingbird feeder near our porch so that they get used to our presence. Plus, we (being photo geeks) get to obsess over trying to get photos of these speedy little guys:
#4 Ornamental onion (Allium ‘Globemaster’) – not a New England native plant but who wouldn’t love their enormous purple lollipop flowers in June? As you can see, the swallowtail butterflies also love them:
It’s back to the word trenches for me, but the occasional stroll onto the porch gives me a short but essential “nature” break from the computer exile imposed by book deadlines. Please share your own habitat sightings with those of us desk-bound – what plants are hummingbirds using right now in your backyard habitats?
See a recent Birds & Blooms article with some tips on capturing hummingbirds on camera.
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