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New World: refers collectively to the western hemisphere, specifically North and South America.
Ornithophily: pollination by birds.
Ornithophilous: plants that are pollinated by birds.
North American Hummingbirds
There are about seventeen species of hummingbirds in North America. North American hummingbirds all have a medium-length bill and are more generalized feeders than their South American counterparts that have developed specialized bills to feed on one particular flower. Specific species known in North America are the:
The hummingbird, or Trochilidae, family provides vital pollination services to thousands of plant species. Hummingbirds are considered nectarivorous, meaning they feed mostly on plant nectar, although they do eat insects as well. While hummingbirds feed, pollen from flowers stick to the birds' bills and is transferred to the pistils of other flowers. Because of the hummingbird's unique means of flight, it must consume almost twice its body weight in nectar daily and can visit up to 1,500 flowers per day.
There are over 300 different hummingbird species and hummingbirds are native only to the New World. Of these, 68 are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List due to degradation and loss of habitat. There are 16 breeding species of hummingbirds in the United States, although only the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) breeds in the eastern United States.
Hummingbirds are small birds weighing less than 20 grams. They have long, slender beaks and large sternums. Their wings beat about 55 times per second during feeding and up to 200 beats per second during maneuvers and courtship displays.
Hummingbirds are attracted to red, orange, or yellow tubular flowers. Plant flowers that produce nectar, grow well in your area, and are in bloom when hummingbirds are passing through your region.
There are several families of plants that attract hummingbirds. Some examples include bee balm and giant hyssop from the mint family (Family: Lamiaceae), trumpet creeper and yellow bells from the bignonia family (Family: Bignoniaceae), hollyhock, flowering maple, and rose of sharon from the mallow family (Family: Malvaceae), fuchsias from the evening primrose family (Family: Onagraceae), and desert honeysuckle from the acanthus family (Family: Acanthaceae).
Hang hummingbird feeders near the flowers and prepare a clear sugar water solution of one part table sugar to four parts water. Do not use honey, artificial sweeteners, or red food coloring. Clean feeders regularly (every three days during hot weather) with hot water and a bottle brush. Do not use soap.
Keep feeders up and clean in the fall for two weeks after you see the last hummingbird.
Hummingbirds are territorial, so try putting up several feeders that are out of sight from each other.