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Attracting hummingbirds with feeders, plants.

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Hummingbirds fascinate. Maybe it's their helicopter-like flight, tameness, amazing speed, or tiny size. Or perhaps it's their responsiveness to feeders-you can get within inches of a hummingbird feeding on the opposite side of a window.

If you'd like to know these creatures better, now is the time to act. In mild parts of the West, you can put up feeders to supply the Anna's hummingbirds that overwinter here. In other areas, a selection of trees, shrubs, and perennials planted before frost will give any of the West's dozen or so migratory hummingbirds natural food in summer. Some of the best choices appear in the box below.

To learn how to draw all kinds of birds to your garden, pick up a copy of An Illustrated Guide to Attracting Birds (Sunset Publishing Corporation, Menlo Park, Calif., 1990; $7.95). It describes the 80 most common garden birds in the United States and Canada, with specific ideas for attracting each one.

A series of plant lists will help you design a birdscape-a landscape designed to appeal to the greatest variety and number of birds. Plans for nest boxes and feeders help to complete the groundwork for great back-yard birding.

Hummingbirds' favorite plants

The following flowering plants supply food for hummingbirds; plant several kinds to extend the flowering season and give hummers some choices. This list is adapted from one in An Illustrated Guide to Attracting Birds.

Fall is among the best times of year to set out almost any permanent plant: seeds planted in fall sprout earlier than those planted in spring, and plants in containers you set out now will have the winter to establish their roots, so bloom will be more profuse next season.

Before you plant, check any unfamiliar plants on our list with the Sunset Western Garden Book or local Master Gardeners to make sure they'll grow in your area. Plant annuals now only in the mildest climates of the West; elsewhere, wait until spring. You should also wait for spring to set out plants in containers if you live in an area where the ground freezes hard and early.

Annuals. Annual phlox, impatiens, nasturtium, nicotiana, petunia, scarlet sage, snapdragon.

Perennials. Agave, alstroemeria, bee balm, California fuchsia, Cape fuchsia, cardinal flower, cigar plants, columbine (from seed), coral bells, delphinium, four o'clock, foxglove (seed), hollyhock (short-lived), ipomopsis (short-lived), kangaroo paw, lion's tail, Lobelia laxiflora, lychnis, monkey flower, parrot's beak (Lotus berthelotii), Penstemon, phlox, pride of Madeira, red-hot poker, sage.

Shrubs. Abelia, Abutilon, Australian fuchsia (Correa pulchella), beauty bush, bottlebrush, Brazilian plume flower, butterfly bush, flowering currant (Ribes), flowering quince, fuchsia (especially F. magellanica), grevillea, heath (Erica), honeysuckle, melaleuca, night jessamine, pineapple guava, rose of Sharon, rosemary, weigela.

Trees. Acacia, Chinaberry, citrus, coral tree, desert willow, eucalyptus, silk tree, tulip tree.

Vines. Blood-red trumpet vine, Cape honeysuckle, flame vine, honeysuckle, trumpet creeper.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Oct 1, 1990
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