Hummingbirds are very small birds with a long nectar-feeding bill and distinctive helicopter-like flying style. They can fly up, down, sideways and backward and can even hover in mid-air. They have a high metabolism and must consume twice their body weight in nectar and insects. Some species of hummingbirds fly great distances as they migrate. There are about 16 species found in North America, and only three of these species are native to Florida. The best way to observe these remarkable creatures is to set out feeders during the times they are most likely to be in the area.
Hummingbirds are members of the Trochilidae family. Hummingbirds are different than other birds in that their feet are very weak. They can perch on tree limbs, but spend most of their time in the air. Hummingbirds beat their wings 60 to 200 times per second and can fly up to 60 miles per hour, according to Wild Bird Unlimited. They are the only birds that can fly backwards. They feed by lapping up nectar with their tongues through their long, thin bills.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds live year-round in Florida, but other species of hummingbirds pass through the state on their migrations between the United States and Central America. Bahama woodstar hummingbirds sometimes make rare visits to the state. Black-chinned and Calliope hummingbirds often make a stop, as well as white-eared Anna's and Allen's hummingbirds. Buff-bellied hummingbirds and Rufous hummingbirds have also been sighted in the state. Mid-March through May are peak times to look for hummingbirds in Florida, and fall migrations run from late July to late October, according to Hummingbird World.
Hummingbirds feed primarily on the nectar drawn from many types of flowers. About 90 percent of their diet is nectar. The nectar is high in calories, which hummingbirds need to fuel the very high metabolic rate of their bodies. They occasionally feed on insects as well, diving and snapping them right out of the air in a hawk-like method. A hummingbird can digest a fruit fly in just 10 minutes. Though you cannot really duplicate the formula of nectar for your hummingbird feed, you can mix one part sugar and four parts of water, bring it to a boil, allow it to cool down, and then pour some into your feeder.
Plants to Attract Hummingbirds
To help attract hummingbirds to your yard and feeder, grow plant species that are known to draw hummingbirds to your yard. Bottlebrush coral honeysuckle, red star hibiscus, wild azalea, butterfly milkweed, cardinal flower and trumpet vine are all fine choices. Red flowers attract hummingbirds more than other colors, according to the University of Florida.