A hummingbird habitat can be a garden full of beautiful tubular red and orange flowers, with a backdrop of natural brush and forest-type trees. In their natural environment, hummingbirds live amongst deciduous trees that provide great coverage from the elements.
A great hack to creating an ideal hummingbird environment in your backyard is with feeders, as this provides them with the necessary nourishment they need to supplement their pollinating lifestyle.
Adding touches, like a birdbath they can lounge in, a space filled with plenty of tiny juicy insects, and a considerable space where hummingbirds can safely hover and fly backward will provide a nice habitat for hummingbirds to thrive in as well. But ideally, a perfect hummingbird habitat is where all these elements meet and create the perfect paradise for these pollinators!
Do you want to re-create a hummingbird habitat to support this remarkable avian species and are unsure how to do so? You can certainly build a habitat for a hummingbird, but diversity is vital. The more elements you add to your garden, the more you will be able to mimic a hummingbird’s natural habitat and enjoy its presence.
To understand how to build this habitat for them, we first must look at their natural habitat – more specifically, we have to know what hummingbirds need to survive and thrive.
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Where can you find hummingbirds?
Because most hummingbirds are migrants, they can be seen in many diverse habitats – from Alaska to Mexico and Chile, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. They are also often seen in North America during the spring, summer, and autumn.
These habitats contain various elements: meadows, canyons, deserts, forests, and jungles. Most hummingbirds prefer areas with rich and blooming plantlife and an abundant insect population.
You could call these spaces the Beverly Hills of hummingbird habitats. Most hummingbirds dwell in mid-elevation habitats, but a few species of hummingbirds also prefer the high elevation of the Rocky Mountains.
Some habitats have more diversity than others. You will find that a wide range of hummingbird species live in Arizona and Ecuador (where insects and plants are abundant)- to name a few:
- The Ruby-throated hummingbird
- Anna’s Hummingbird
- Broad-billed Hummingbird
- Broad-tailed Hummingbird
- Black-chinned Hummingbird
- Rufous Hummingbird
- The smallest bird of the bunch: the bee hummingbird
How to create the perfect hummingbird habitat?
Think broad: An ideal hummingbird habitat has to essentially meet all of the basic needs of these tiny birds, which include: food, mating, shelter, and nesting sites.
There are many different species of hummingbirds, but all of them eat the same things:
Small insects – Spiders, fruit flies, and gnats all provide essential protein nutrition for hummingbirds and their nestlings.
Nectar from plants – native flowering plants, vines, trees, annuals, and perennials. These hummers are particularly fond of red tubular flowers so that they can use their bill to reach that sweet nectar inside (thus significantly reducing the competition for food).
Some flowers are perfect for hummingbirds: honeysuckle, rose, red columbine, tiger lily, salmonberry, trumpet creeper, and fireweed. It would be best to put plants on the ground and on a vertical landscape here and there; be creative.
Tree sap – These sneaky hummingbirds eat tree sap by spotting trees where sapsuckers (woodpeckers) drill holes.
Hummingbirds have an insanely fast metabolism (not to mention they travel long distances at a time during their migration journeys). They can enter a state of torpor, a hibernation state where their metabolic rate and heartbeat slow significantly to help them survive a dry spell of resources when necessary.
Their bodies are programmed to go in this temporary state of energy conservation when there is not enough food. They have to eat substantially more food than they weigh, which is a fine line to walk, so they must have food available at all times.
Trees and shrubs protect hummingbirds from all kinds of predators. They also use the shelter for nesting their offspring. Hummingbirds only nest in natural environment habitats, and will not use a human provided nesting box or birdhouse.
The shelter can be provided by broad-leaf deciduous trees that provide a lot of coverage. Hummingbirds are fond of oak, and birch trees. Other tree species that work well for hummingbird habitats include pine, poplar, hornbeam, and hackberry trees. Having any of these tree species in your backyard is likely to provide adequate shelter for the hummingbird breeding season.
Plus, some trees can also be an additional food source for them.
No matter what, don’t expect these hummingbirds to appreciate any birdhouses. They might work for other birds, but hummingbirds will never use them.
Female hummingbirds need a habitat that is catered to their specific needs – being that they build the nest, incubate and raise their chicks by themselves! You can offer them an abundance of nesting sites – some more obvious and others more hidden.
Nectar should be abundant, as female hummingbirds will look for food for their babies more often. And the more they stay away from their nest, the more exposed their nestlings are.
You can’t go wrong with trees and bushes. Female hummingbirds typically build their nest between bushes and branches or any other place to shelter their babies from all the elements – like rain and storms.
In addition, the best thing you can do is to keep your yard as wild and natural as possible – so that it’s close to the one they’re used to. When building the nest, hummingbirds use a lot of nest materials like lichen, moss, spider webs, and little branches to ensure that it’s well-built. So they need to have all of these resources at their disposal.
Avoiding pesticides, herbicides, and dyes in your garden is also essential. These can be toxic to hummingbirds and kill the tiny insects they need to survive.
What can we do to preserve a hummingbird’s habitat?
Habitat conservation is a great way to preserve and enhance the natural habitat of hummingbirds. As we explored in this article, the best way to do that is for us to create a hummingbird-friendly habitat in our backyards. And it seems that more and more people are doing just that.
The Audubon Society encourages us to build these habitats for them, so we can fight climate change and the impact that it can have on their food sources and migration.
You can also support organizations that make conservation efforts and fight to preserve hummingbird habitats in tropical regions.