Sus­tain­abil­ity Tips

Catron Courier - - Front Page -

It’s fun to watch hum­ming­birds, but if your feeder isn’t clean with healthy nec­tar, you could be killing the hum­ming­birds you’re at­tract­ing. A dirty feeder can host a deadly fun­gus that leaves them un­able to con­sume nec­tar—that cute, lit­tle bird now faces star­va­tion. A mother hum­ming­bird can also pass this in­fec­tion to her ba­bies.

Clean the feeder with hot water and scrub it. Don’t use soap that will leave residue. If you see mold, soak the feeder in a quar­ter cup of bleach in one gal­lon of water for an hour, rinse with vine­gar and water.

For a healthy nec­tar, mix one cup cane sugar in four cups water. Boil, stir and cool. Boiling slows the fer­men­ta­tion so the nec­tar won’t spoil as fast. If your nec­tar turns cloudy, it’s gone bad. Keep any feeder in shade and put out enough nec­tar for the birds to con­sume in two or three days.

If you don’t want all this fuss, plant flow­ers hum­ming­birds love: bee-balm, fire pink, scar­let petu­nia, red buck­eye, scar­let morn­ing glory, scar­let paint­brush, and scar­let salvia.

Bright flow­ers will also at­tract but­ter­flies. Plant zin­nias, marigolds, milk­weeds, ver­be­nas, and mint in clus­ters. This will also help feed lo­cal bees. (And put out a flat dish with ex­posed col­ored glass or col­or­ful rocks to water the bees.)

Some na­tive plants to feed hum­ming­birds, but­ter­flies and bees in­clude: moun­tain mint, dwarf desert pe­ony, chokecherry, fire­weed, globe mal­lows and blan­ket flower.

You might also want to plant to feed other wild birds—it’s far cheaper than buy­ing seed. Lupine, sun­flow­ers, blue columbine, and gold­en­rod will pull in a va­ri­ety of birds.

Don’t use harm­ful pes­ti­cides that will end up harm­ing the birds, but­ter­flies and bees. Make a nat­u­ral pes­ti­cide with a cut up onion soaked in a gal­lon of water for three days. Spray the water on your herbs and veg­etable plants.

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