But nearly as important as providing feeders is planting native plants that flower coincidental with their arrival. Here wax currants (Ribes cereum) and golden currants (R. aureum) are the first to bloom, and golden currants (like the one above) are just about to flower in our yard and in Missoula. As a result, these are the most visited by the travel-weary humming birds (click here to read about other non-traditional humming bird plants).This year, I am excited to have wax currants in our garden; while attending the Calypso Chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society's meeting, I bought three from Catherine Cain of Southwest Montana Native Landscapes and I found out that Kathy Settevendemie of Blackfoot Native Plant Nursery , who was also at the meeting, sells them as well.
The exact date of hummingbird arrival depends on native plants. Hummingbirds follow the blooms of many plant species on their way north to their nesting sites. It is these plants that provide them with the sustenance for their travels and will ensure plenty of food when they court, nest and raise their nestlings. So, hummingbirds are intimately tied to native plants. Just like butterflies, hummingbirds will feed on any flower at certain times, but the timing of the flowering of native plants is critical for them.
Planting firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii), or other commonly described "hummingbird" plants may have little benefit to them (click here for more information and plant selections).
So its time to get those feeders ready, but, more importantly, get those native plants ready!
Oh, since my last post, I noticed that one of my favorites, the blue eyed Mary (Collinsia parviflora)is in full bloom, and so are kittentails (Synthyris missurica).