I was in the kitchen making dinner when I spotted the Hummingbird at the feeder. They are late arriving this year, but I was so excited to see him I just grabbed my camera and took a picture, through the window and the rain.
It seems odd yet fitting that such a tiny bird (only 3 1/2" in length and weighing only 6 to 8 grams) can generate such huge interest. But once you see a couple of ruby-throated hummingbirds, and then become skilled at attracting them to your garden, you will feel as though you are their friend, benefactor and protector. Just watching these bundles of energy in action warms the soul and makes you feel good.
When the male hummingbird arrives in the spring, he established a territory that includes several sources of food. Both he and the female aggressively defend their food and its surroundings against intruders. Hummingbirds feed on nectar, but insects and spiders are also a very important part of their diet. They catch insects while flying and search them out among vegetation, so make sure you have a healthy insect population. No pesticides and a diversity of native plants, especially small-flowering plants.
To supply water, add trees and shrubs with large, smooth leaves. The tiny birds like to take advantage of water collected on their leaves for drinking and bathing. Hummingbirds like to locate their nests, which look like a natural knob, on the branch of a tree or shrub that allows open access underneath but is protected from above by overhead leaves. The female constructs the nest with a collection of down from plants such as milkweed, thistle, cattail, willow or fireweed. It is held together with spider webs that the hummingbird collects. The third element of the nest is lichen or bud scales. These are used on the outside of the nest to camouflage it from predators.