The hummingbird’s main objective is the nectar in the flower but as it sips, it also picks up pollen that it transfers to other flowers. In fact, the hummingbird is a key pollinator of wildflowers.
Plants hummingbirds pollinate include Monarda didyma, Monarda fisulosa, Lobelia cardinalis, Campsis radicans, Aquilegia canadensis, Anise Hyssop, phlox, penstemons, coral bells, and the native salvias.
They also aid in pollination of vines like trumpet vine, trees like Red Buckeye and shrubs, some of which are specifically adapted to pollination by hummingbirds.
Putting out feeders is very important because large parts of the country have been in drought conditions. Native plants are in shorter supply as a result of dry meadows to provide the nectar the hummingbirds need. We can help by planting native nectar plants. We can create a habitat that shelters and provides for insects they utilize for protein. Insects are a large portion of a hummingbird’s diet – like gnats, tiny bees, fruit flies, mosquitoes, spiders, and even caterpillars. See my post on GWGT, Do You Water Your Garden? for how I keep my plants hydrated.
Hummingbirds rely on nectar as their primary food source. Wildflower gardens are best planted with a variety of wildflower species that bloom throughout the growing season. Spring flowers above and summer Monarda below are examples.
Along with the hummingbirds, bats are other creatures we don’t necessarily think of as pollinators. How many different pollinators can you think of? In my last post I noted the benefit of the Green Bottle Fly as a pollinator. When you think of all the insects besides bees, like wasps, beetles, weevils, butterflies and the countless other crawling, flying and wiggling critters that are making our food and flowers a reality, it really gives one pause.