Small, yet pugnacious hummingbirds have a way of capturing the attention of those around them with a bold personality and rapid movement, unlike any other bird. Many people want to attract them to their yard purely for the calming entertainment of watching them, but what most don’t know is that hummingbirds also offer many benefits.
Sharon Walker started with one simple hummingbird feeder in her yard because she enjoyed the serenity of watching them. It wasn’t until retiring and opening Hummingbird Berry Farm (5581 S. 140th Rd, Brighton, Missouri, 417-399-7988), a blackberry farm that offers self-pick and pre-picked fresh blackberries, that she and her husband learned about the true benefit of having hummingbirds on their farm.
“We attended a conference and my husband met a grower that had hundreds of feeders across his property,” said Walker. “We had always enjoyed hummingbirds but were shocked when we realized this man was using them as an integral part of the farm to control the insects.”
After learning that hummingbirds eat insects and in particular, the spotted-wing drosophila, which can destroy an entire crop, they began to utilize hummingbirds as a part of their pest control strategy. To do so, they’ve learned everything they can about attracting hummingbirds.
“Make it an area that birds are interested in coming to,” said Walker. “Plant plants that they are interested in and put up feeders.” For planting, be sure to find plants off of the Missouri Conservation site. Missouri only has Ruby-Throated hummingbirds so it is important to focus on plants that attract that particular species and also grow well in this region. As far as feeders go, the main emphasis should be put keeping it clean and filled and avoiding using nectars with red dye to avoid potentially harming them.
Hummingbirds, full of personality, can also be quite territorial. Walker said she often fields questions from people saying they have a hummingbird scaring off others from their feeder; in response she tells them to put out more feeders which will also help attract more birds.
In the meantime, as you wait to attract hummingbirds to your own yard, you can visit Walker’s farm where they have added sitting areas with more feeders and plants so people can sit and watch the hummingbirds around them. “It’s almost symbiotic that they help us with the relaxation from watching them and we help them by providing the habitat and food,” said Walker. “They’re such a beautiful creature that are just amazing to watch.”