Keeping a habitat in tune with hummingbirds

Native plants create welcoming setting
By: Barbara Roemer, Special to Home & Garden
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The foothills’ rainless summers are perfectly comfortable for many native plants once established. And where native plants flourish, hummingbirds, among many creatures, find optimal summer, and sometimes winter, homes. Sacramento, Placer and Nevada counties usually host four types of hummers. Anna’s hummingbirds are the only year-round resident. Black-chinned hummers summer here and winter in Central America. Rufous hummingbirds travel to Central America for July through September. Calliope hummingbirds can be found in summer at higher Sierra locations and in fall in the Sacramento Valley. Costa’s hummers are seen in the valley and occasionally range to the lower foothills. Allen’s hummingbirds usually range further south or at the coast, but occasionally wander through the valley. With loss of native habitat due to development and fire, it’s especially important that gardeners plant natives to encourage these tiny pollinators. Hummingbirds are opportunivores, so they do take advantage of nectar proffered by non-natives. Growing a variety of plants that flower at successively later dates will reward you with happy hummers throughout the season. A standout for its late summer fountain of blossoms is California fuchsia, with brightly colored tubular flowers favored by these glittering visitors. While hummers are always attracted to feeders, sugar water gets them through lean times but doesn’t support their immune systems or their breeding like a diet of plant nectar and insects does. To bring attention to native habitats that support hummingbirds, two special events are being planned by local birders and plant folk. The California Native Plant Society Redbud Chapter of Nevada and Placer counties fall sale will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, at Sierra College Grass Valley campus. For more information, contact or see Web site The CNPS El Dorado Chapter fall sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds in Placerville. For more information, see Please your plants and nurture the critters — get started this fall!