December 2021. By Oscar Ortega: Hummingbird nests are among the most delightful gifts we find in December gardens. Our design+build team ensures each garden contains the right plants to attract them. Maintenance plays a role too! Here is how we care for hummingbirds as we care for our gardens.
Hummingbirds like to place their nests in places where branches fork, usually at the height of a tall shrubs and small trees. We help facilitate their site-selection as we ensure the health of both traditional and biodiverse hedges. Rather than using chain saws to hack straight lines, we structurally prune, encouraging hedges and trees to take their ideal shape as they mature. While it requires a little more know-how and muscle, it means a great deal for hedge health, and the hummingbirds for whom we create the ideal habitat.
Hummingbirds adore the nectar of blooms that require long, slender beaks to capture. In December, several California native blooms are perfectly designed to attract and nourish new hummingbird mamas! They include Manzanita, Bladderpod, and native Currants. Don’t yet have these hummingbird feeders? No problem! Rainy season is the ideal time to plant.
Hummingbirds incubate their eggs for the better part of a month, and the juveniles need another month to leave the nest. During this roughly six-week timeframe, they need a little space. Rufus hummingbirds are particular about enforcing it – they will dive-bomb those who approach their nests! On the upside, it makes the nests easy for us to find. Once we do, we give them what they need to thrive.
What we don’t do is often as important as what we do. For clients who are amenable, we leave spider webs, as hummingbirds use them as nesting material. Likewise, we apply patience instead of pesticides and herbicides to protect hummingbird health – and human health too. In applying patience instead of chemicals, we keep our gardens humming!
We hope this helps you fill your holidays with humming! It is truly one of nature’s most delightful gifts.