No matter how large or small your 'backyard' is, there are lots of simple ways to make your space more inviting to butterflies, bees, bats, insects and birds. Visit your local University Extension office. The Poplar Bluff extension office is located on the corner of Broadway and Oak Street, the same block as the Historic Roger's Theater. Their hours are from 8am til 4pm, closing for 1 hour at noon for lunch.
The Ruby Throated Hummingbird
The smallest and only hummingbird in the Eastern U.S., migrates from Mexico and Central America, the first of April, spending their summer with us. They again make this 500 mile flight in mid to late October to return to their winter nesting place.
Only 3 inches in size, its heart beats 1200 beats a minute and can fly up to speeds of 60 miles an hour. Their nests are frequently found along streams and lake shores on tree branches high over water. The nests are the size of a walnut and made of stretchable material like spidersilk, lichen, bud scales and plant down.
They lay 2 jelly belly-sized eggs per nest, which hatch in 12 to 14 days. They eat small insects and spiders and tree sap in early spring and later add flower nectar. Hummingbirds prefer red flowers that are tubular in shape but will visit any flower. They cannot smell so scent does not matter. They prefer red flowers because they have learned that red flowers contain 25% more of the nectar they need.
If you want hummingbirds in your garden, plant native trumpet creeper vine, columbine, native honeysuckle’s, cardinal flower, jewelweed, wild bergamot and firepink. Non native flowers are mimosa, snapdragon, petunia, nasturtium, hollyhock, beebalm and red buckeye. (Do not plant the invasive Japanese honeysuckle) You can also make homemade nectar by boiling 4 parts water to 1 part sugar and fill a hummingbird feeder. Do not add red food dye, just hang something red from it until it has been noticed. Change the solution every 2 to 7 days to prevent disease and never use honey. Beware of hazards, such as other birds, large insects, reptiles and animals, bad sugar solutions, drought, extended cold or wet spells and inadequate food. If you find a spider web or praying mantis by your feeder, remove these hazards before they are able to trap the hummingbird.
Blue Bird Trail and Bird Sanctuary Dedication
Click here to find out more about BlueBirds
Our garden club had a Blue Bird Trail and Bird Sanctuary dedication on March 10, 1999. Sherri Wilson, Nancy Segall and Shelley Plotze participated in setting up a blue bird trail in Tomaro Oaks. We have a total of 8 blue bird houses on the trail. We hope that we get some residents this year.
New bluebird trails are sanctuaries are dedicated each year. Almost everyone in our club now has a bird sanctuary and if you would like one, please let us know. We'd be glad to help.
If your feeders are not attracting lots of birds it may be because some birds are ground feeders. Juncos, Cardinals and Mourning Doves prefer to eat on the ground or a large flat surface. They all enjoy sunflower seeds, but if you have trouble with squirrels, try safflower seeds. The squirrels usually ignore these.
You can either make or buy a ground feeder. An old wooden frame with a screen atop it will do. Raise it up off the ground a few inches to let air circulate underneath and also so it can remain more sanitary. Use water to wash underneath it periodically.