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Hummingbird Gardening in the Upper Midwest

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Sunday, July 24, 2016


With wings spun of silver and hearts of gold,
These tiny creatures our hearts behold.
With angelic features and colors so bright,
Make even the heaviest heart seem light.
The magical way they flit through the sky,
They appear, then vanish in the blink of an eye.
They're sending a message for us to retrieve,
Anything's possible for those who believe!

Written by: Christopher Griffiths     
Hi Everybody,
Spring and now summer are once again here with all of its possibility and promise (and beauty, if the weather cooperates!).
We are very happy to report that we saw our first hummingbird at 2:19 p.m. on May 7 (about 7 days earlier than last spring---our earliest hummingbird sighting in 17 years was April 30.)  Additionally, a birding friend was riding his bicycle past our home on May 3 and saw a hummingbird at our feeder, so we actually missed that earlier sighting (and a neighbor and friend who doesn’t even put feeders up saw a hummingbird in her garden on May 6).  That week we saw an adult male Ruby-throat at our feeders mostly at dusk and the ladies joined us about a week later.  Michael was lucky enough to even see a male hummingbird perform a mating display (U-shaped dive) in front of a perched female.  This has been our best spring of hummingbird activity ever with numerous males and females every day (we have some sightings during the day, but most sightings occur at dusk.)  Hummingbirds are now feeding from some flowers such as Honeysuckle, our new Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Bloom’ (great plant---find it at Klein’s or The Bruce Company), and some overwintered salvias---we have had a few. sightings at Catmint , but now as summer begins Monarda ‘Jacob Kline’ is very popular!!
With summer now upon us, just about every day is a great day to get out and garden. The garden is mostly in, but more still needs to be done.  The weeds are a never ending challenge and hopefully this will improve as desirable plants grow larger and shade them out.  I was reminded by a recent Bruce Company e-newsletter that weeds growing in garden areas are not only unsightly, but are taking valuable moisture and nutrients away from desirable plants, so pull them out as they emerge (as tedious as this activity might be!).
So, the time is now to get your feeders up and ready and to think about great flowers for your hummingbirds.  We have had many plant orders arrive and two more are coming this week.  Check out several articles in the newsletter about those topics.  The busiest time for hummingbirds in our garden is always late August and early September and we are working very hard to “lay out the red carpet” for our hummingbird guests!!
It’s time to get out and enjoy the bright and warm golden days of summer and embrace the miracle of nature that is offered to us, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  Enjoy your families, your gardens and your hummingbirds this summer.
Best Wishes,
Kathi and Michael
In This Issue:
-Upcoming Events
-Hummingbird Feeder Update
-Hummingbird Feeders 101
-Best Plants for Hummingbirds/Nursery News
-Hummingbird Migration Map, Friend or Foe?
-2015 Hummingbird Garden Tour Review
-Join A Tour to Costa Rica Led By Hummingbird Expert Mickey O’Connor
-Hummingbird Program at Governor Dodge State Park in DodgevilleSunday, July 3, 8:30 p.m. at the Park Amphitheater.  This program will be an open air presentation under the stars.
-Hummingbird Garden Tours at our Home:  Sunday, September 11, 1-5:30 p.m. (program & door prize drawing at 3 p.m.) and/or Wednesday, September 14, 3-7 p.m. (program & door prize drawing at 5 p.m.), 5118 Buffalo Trail, Madison, WI   53705, (608) 233-7397 (registration not required.)
Properly maintained hummingbird feeders are an integral part of your efforts to bring hummingbirds to your property.  So often, people ask us if they can just plant a few perennials and attract lots of hummingbirds.  The answer to that question for most of us is an emphatic “No.”  In our northern climate, it would be almost impossible to find enough perennials that really attract hummingbirds to cover the entire season, early May through mid-October.  Also, feeders fill in on the days when nectar in the flowers is unavailable, spring before hummingbird plants begin blooming, a very cold day, a very hot day, a rainy day, or in fall after the first frost.  Hummingbird feeders are always available, no matter what the weather or time of the year (unless they are frozen in winter!).  Also, hummingbird feeders with their red coloring (the nectar should be clear though) serve as an identification of your property as hummingbird-friendly---you might be interested to know that hummingbirds can see red for up to a mile away, have excellent memories, and probably return to the place of their birth each year (there are many fun stories of hummingbirds “knocking” on the window with their bills to let their human hosts know that they are back and hungry!)
“How many feeders should I hang?” is another common question.  The answer that everyone needs to hear first is only put up as many feeders as you can properly maintain (that means cleaning regularly as well as changing the nectar solution.)  And, place all feeders in places where you can easily view them from your home.  If you live in an urban area, MORE feeders will be needed to bring in hummingbirds on a daily basis---we have seven feeders up right now, and all get used and some more than others.  By mid-September, we will have as many as 20 hummingbird feeders up!  If we lived in a rural or wooded area, we absolutely would not need to work this hard!
If you have a very territorial, aggressive hummingbird, put feeders on the opposite side of your home  so the “bully” cannot see the other feeder and that way everyone has a chance to feed in peace (as much as hummingbirds can have peace!)
As more flowers begin blooming in late July and August, the feeders become less important, but please don’t take them down.  Many hummingbirds will still use them at any time of the year when they need a quick shot of reliable energy or the weather has taken a bad turn.  One late summer day, we saw an immature Ruby-throat rest on a feeder for almost 30 minutes at the end of the day.  With their fast metabolisms, hummingbirds face an energy crisis quite often, especially very young birds.  Feeders are a great fall back and safeguard for your hummingbird friends.
We reprint the following information about use and maintenance of hummingbird feeders from a past E-Update:
The diet of hummingbirds consists of small insects and nectar. You faithful readers of the Nectar
are well aware of the different kinds of flowers that provide sweet nectar for the hummingbirds. But when the hummers return from their winter homes in April and May, there are no blooming flowers in Wisconsin that are attractive to hummingbirds. We may like to look at daffodils and crocus and tulips, but those are not hummingbird flowers. So, to maximize the number of hummingbirds in your yard throughout the season, one must have hummingbird feeders. Here is a quick primer on the
feeders that have worked well in our yard and the care of the feeders.

Feeder styles: There are two basic feeder styles: bottle feeders in which the nectar is above the feeder ports or saucer style feeders.

In the bottle feeder category: a workhouse feeder that has been in existence for many years is the Perky Pet Pinch Waste Feeder
(, also known as the Perky Pet 4 Fountains feeder. This feeder is widely available at retailers such as hardware stores, home improvement stores and birding stores. If you have this feeder in your yard, you are guaranteed to see hummingbirds use it. One drawback of this feeder isthat if it blows in the wind, the nectar will slosh out of the feeder

A feeder that we have used extensively with much success is the First Nature Hummingbird Feeder
( These feeders have 10 feeding ports with holes that are in a horizontal position, so when the wind blows, nectar does not slosh out of these
feeders. We have found that the hummingbirds use this feeder to a high degree. One disadvantage of this feeder is that the feeding port holes are large oval shapes..... large enough for yellow jackets to fly
into the nectar. First Nature has redesigned this feeder to have smallerround holes with yellow bee guards. You may see this licensed under thename Mainstays Hummingbird Feeder. It remains to be seen if this feeder is used as much as the original First Nature design. You can find this feeder at stores such as Walmart and Fleet Farm.

Another bottle style feeder is the Dr. JB's Clean Feeder ( This feeder is made of very durable plastic and a hardened glass bottle. The feeder ports on this feeder are oriented such
that the nectar does not slosh out in a strong wind. This feeder is widely available at retailers such as Wild Birds Unlimited and Mounds Pet Food Warehouse.

In the saucer style category, a company that makes many of these feeders is Aspects ( These feeders will not leak nectar in a strong wind. Although we have seen some use ofthese feeders in our yard, the saucer style feeders are not used as
much as the Perky Pet 4 Fountains or the First Nature Hummingbird Feeders. These feeders are available at hardware stores and Wild Birds Unlimited.

There are dozens of styles of hummingbird feeders. We only mention the feeders above as these have been used in our yard and we can attest that they are good feeders. You will likely have success with almost any kind of feeder. However, we do not have any experience with the fancy
glass blown feeders that have a single spigot feeding port. In our discussions with other hummingbird enthusiasts, we have heard that hummers do not use these feeders very much and that they can be very difficult to clean.  The best hummingbird feeder one that attracts hummingbirds AND is easy to clean.

Now that you have your feeders, it is time to add nectar. Many of the pictures of feeders shown in the web sites listed above contain nectar with red dye. The dye is not necessary, as there is enough red on the feeder to attract the hummingbirds. So, you can either buy a commercial nectar mix, or make your own nectar. We do the latter by mixing a ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. The water can be boiled, or hot water out of the tap. (One could also use room temperature or cold water, but
the sugar will take longer to dissolve compared to hot water.) Stir in the sugar until it is totally dissolved, and then place in your feeder. We do not fill our feeders to the top because we do not have enough hummingbirdsto drain our feeders. We only place enough nectar in the feeders to
last until the next nectar change, as often as every 2-3 days during hot, humid weather or at least every 4-5 days.   Changing the nectar isnecessary, as otherwise, the nectar will become cloudy, sour, and moldy.

The feeders also need to be cleaned. One can purchase different mops and brushes to clean the feeders. Alternatively, a 10 to 1 mixture of waterand bleach can be used to soak the feeders for approximately 10
minutes. This is very effective at eliminating any mold.

Lastly, it is time to hang your feeders. We place our feeders at approximately eye level. Place the feeders where you can see them and enjoy watching nature's flying jewels in your yard. In our opinion, the
more feeders that you have, the more hummingbirds will be attracted to your yard. This may not be exceedingly important if one lives in the country near ideal nesting habitat. For those of us living in the city, we think that a large number of feeders helps us to see hummingbirds during most days of the late spring, summer and early fall (as late as November 17 in 2010---without feeders we would have not seen these late hummingbirds as all of our flowers had died or ceased blooming due to cold weather and frost). At the height of the fall migration, we maintain over 20 feeders in our yard.
Gardening is a truly creative endeavor and obviously no two gardens will ever be the same.  While I think those pre-planned gardens could be helpful to beginners or very busy people, they really don’t challenge the gardener to think about his or her own individual space and needs.  The most important thing to consider is the space you have and are willing to devote to a garden and how much time you have to spend designing it, ordering/purchasing plants, weeding, planting, watering, deadheading, etc.---the tasks are endless (and don’t forget about routine tasks such as lawn and tree/shrub maintenance and spring and fall clean up!).  It is always best to start too small rather than too large, even if you are gardening to attract hummingbirds.  This is a never-ending journey you are on and to try and do more than you can effectively manage is almost always disastrous.  Sometimes we all have other priorities to consider such as family, work, travel, pets or you may have health or mobility issues that will limit the amount of time you can realistically spend and what you are able to do. 
The financial investment, especially in an area of the country like the Upper Midwest where a large number of annuals must be replaced each year, can be huge.  It is not always practical, but if budget is a concern, growing some annuals from seed, overwintering selected annuals inside your home or garage,  taking cuttings from favorite annuals in the fall for the next season, searching for the best deals online, or waiting until July 4th or later to purchase plants locally (or even online) when everything is 50% off mightcould be somea few strategies to deal with that issue.
In summary, it is always better to have something small and wonderful and thriving than something large, unfinished, overgrown with weeds, and dying plants.  The most important thing is to identify and create a garden that reflects your personal taste and meets your needs for time, budget, and personal gardening goals.
It is most important though that the best hummingbird flowers and hummingbird feeders are placed in an area that is easily seen from your home.
We like to recommend a cottage garden, or naturalistic, design for hummingbird gardening (and this fits in well with native plantings, which many people like to use)---the birds seem to prefer this “messier” style of gardening.  However, if it’s not your style, you might consider confining it to one small area of your yard.  More formal or themed gardens could work for hummingbirds if the right plant choices are made and feeders are included in your garden design.
A good way to start small might be to continue your garden as you always have with the standard Upper Midwestern perennials (or even just shrubs and trees) and a few additional perennials that hummingbirds like and then to have 2 to 4 pots of top tier annuals for hummingbirds such as Salvia guaranitica or Cuphea ‘David Verity’ or Salvia greggii.  This way, you can evaluate how important hummingbird gardening is to you and if you might wish to expand your offerings for next season.  Some people increase their number of hummingbird annuals by adding containers throughout the garden (container gardening increases the flexibility of your garden!).  This works especially well if you are interested in having a garden comprised of native plants.  Salvia coccinea is a very useful hummingbird annual in that it can be very easily grown from seed (or even purchased as a plant at local nurseries)---you can find seed for this plant at in many different quantities to meet your needs.
A very short list of the best annuals (A) and perennials (P) for hummingbirds include:
-Lonicera sempervirens (Trumpet Honeysuckle) ‘Major Wheeler’  P
-Nepeta (Catmint)  ‘Six Hills Giant’ or ‘Souvenir de Andre Chaudron’  P
-Monarda (Bee Balm) ‘Jacob Kline’  P
-Buddleia davidii (Butterfly Bush)  choose tall varieties with red or purple flowers   P
-Salvia guaranitica (Anise Sage or Salvia ‘Black and Blue/Bloom’)   A
-Salvia coccinea (Texas Sage)   A
-Cuphea ‘David Verity’ or ‘Vermillionaire’ (Cigar Plant)   A
-Salvia ‘Amistad’ (Friendship Sage)   A
-Salvia greggii (Autumn Sage)   A
-Salvia microphylla (Little Leaf Sage)  ‘Hot Lips’ is one example of this huge genus   A
-Nicotiana mutabilis   Reseeding A
To receive a listing of local and mail order nurseries by e-mail, please contact me at
HUMMINGBIRD MIGRATION MAP, FRIEND OR FOE?Lanny Chambers, a master hummingbird bander in St. Louis does an amazing job of creating and maintaining a hummingbird migration map each spring.   You can find the 2016 map at:   This incredible effort is a masterful blending of citizen observations and science and gives the northward migration of hummingbirds a lot of credibility.  However, many people who are passionate about attracting hummingbirds to their yard have many concerns about the dates on their map for their area.  Here is my response to a gentleman who wrote to me and asked about this map (this response was sent on April 26, 2016---we saw our first hummingbird on May 7):”

Our first hummingbird sighting here in Madison, Wisconsin never corresponds to anything that appears on The Hummingbird Migration Map at  Our earliest sighting ever in our yard (a suburban/urban location in a small city with many mature trees, a large lake and golf course nearby and several parks and natural areas) has been April 30.  Last season, we had the unusually late first sighting of May 15---long after most members of The Hummingbird Forum.  It is obvious that dots on Lanny's Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Migration Map always occur much earlier than our dates by at least several weeks.  Since the information about the observers/reporters is kept strictly confidential and photos are never provided, while we trust Lanny's work (we have actually met him and he takes this project very seriously), we always wonder how these people (even in our city!) see these hummingbirds so much earlier than us, year after year (although we have a friend who lives nearby and she is a serious and knowledgeable birder who saw her first hummingbird on April 10 one year).

We've had feeders up for several weeks now and even with the early, warm spring, we still have not seen a first hummingbird and expect this year (which Lanny refers to as a very early migration year) to be the same for us, especially with the newly arrived cold front (temperatures during the day might get into the 50's, which is a bit chilly for hummingbirds and the insects they require for survival.)  I subscribe to The Wisconsin Birding List and Michael regularly checks E-Bird and there is no information within either of those resources about any 2016 hummingbird sightings in Wisconsin.  I did see some reports today on The Wisconsin Birding List about FOY Baltimore Oriole sightings and they often precede hummingbirds by a few days, so maybe we are getting closer.  No one we know personally in Wisconsin or even Illinois (or most other Upper Midwestern States) has seen a first hummingbird yet either for 2016.
Typically, we think that the spring Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration in the east occurs a bit earlier than we would see in the Upper Midwest and then they leave that area earlier in the fall (our fall sightings in Wisconsin can be extremely late---we even went into mid-November in 2010, but we typically have hummingbirds through mid-October!)
We tend to use the Migration Map at as a guide and it can be interesting to follow, especially before the hummingbirds reach Wisconsin, but we no longer view it as gospel or get too upset that once again the hummingbirds have passed us by.  I think the map and the accompanying website,, serve as a very useful public education tool for people who need basic information about hummingbirds, especially those individuals who are just learning and getting started.  If you look at the site in detail, the very basic and simple information about hummingbirds just cannot be beat in terms of being easy to read and very accessible (and people who are interested in hummingbirds are not usually traditional "birders" who would use other more traditional "birding" resources and sites for information about hummingbirds.)
We think it is most important to keep your own detailed records about hummingbird sightings on your own property and we have done that for almost 18 years now.  That is clearly the most useful information you will have to refer to from year to year.    There are a few other basics such as well maintained feeders throughout the entire season, having top-tier hummingbird plants in bloom at every point during the season, and offering a water feature which is appropriate for hummingbirds, and placing feeders and flowers in a place where you can easily see them, and most of all, consistently observing feeders and flowers every day during the season that you are in your home, especially at dusk when hummingbirds are most commonly seen.  It is easy to get discouraged, especially during late June and July, when sightings are extremely scarce (the birds are nesting), but last season we managed to document at least one hummingbird sighting on every day of the season and our fall migration numbers were really spectacular----for the first time we had four hummingbirds using one feeder for the first time in our history (we called dusk at our house, "the Hummingbird Happy Hour")!”
We hope that this information might be somewhat helpful and reassuring to our readers who have so many questions and concerns about when their hummingbirds should be arriving.
Our wonderful hummingbird bander, Mickey O’Connor is again leading a birding tour to Costa Rica during late January/Early February 2017 (what a wonderful time to get away from the Upper Midwest!)  She has had a few cancellations.  If you are interested in learning more or joining this fantastic tour (31 species of hummingbirds on the 2016 tour!), please contact Mickey at or at her workplace at the Milwaukee County Zoo:  414) 771-3040, X144, or (214) 980-3103.  I can also forward you some detailed information by e-mail as well (
Hello Everyone,
Want to see our neotropical migrants in sunny Costa Rica this winter, as well as other amazing flora and fauna?  We still have a couple of openings for this wonderful trip.  Please contact me with any questions.

Cheers, Mickey O'Connor, Milwaukee County

*Wisconsin** Bird Conservation Initiative’s (WBCI)*

*Conservation Birding Trip*

*Southern Costa Rica and The Osa Peninsula*

January 24 – February 7, 2017

While this is a bird conservation trip, we will spend our time learning, exploring, and observing all we encounter while walking through the various habitats.  Nito (Dionisio Paniagua Castro) is our personal guide for this journey and his expertise as a naturalist always makes the trip superior.
“Neither the hummingbird or the flower wonders how beautiful it is.” 
Kathi and Michael Rock
Madison, Wisconsin
Zone 4/5
telephone: (608) 233-7397

"Hummingbirds.....where is the person, I ask, who, on observing this glittering fragment of the rainbow, would not pause, admire, and turn his mind with reverence..."; (J. J. Audubon)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

“In all of nature there is something marvelous”  Aristotle
Hi Everyone,
As our coldest winter temperatures assault us, we wanted to remind you of a very nice upcoming “winter warm up”, The Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin, Friday, February 12-Sunday, February 14, 2016.  We are presenting our “Gardening for Hummingbirds” program this year after taking a hiatus in 2015.  We would love to have you come and join us and rev up your engines for gardening and hummingbirds in 2016.  Here is a link and the details about our program:
Michael and Kathi Rock:  “Gardening for Hummingbirds”
-Saturday, February 13, 2016, 12 noon-1 pm, Mendota 4
-Sunday, February 14, 2016, 11:45 am-12:45 pm, Mendota 3
There is something really magical about this event every year as we enter such an energy-filled space with green and flowering plants after a long winter inside!  We hope that you might consider joining us!!
Additionally, we will be speaking at the following events this spring and early summer:
-Chicago Flower & Garden Show, Navy Pier, Chicago, Illinois
Sunday, March 20, 2016, 3:30 p.m.
-Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison, Wisconsin
Tuesday, May 3, 2016, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (Advance Registration Required---Space is Limited)
-Wildbirds Unlimited, Madison, Wisconsin
Saturday, June 25, 2016, 10 am
Lastly, our 2016 Community Hummingbird Garden Tours at our home are scheduled for:
--Sunday, September 11, 2016, 1-5:30 p.m. (Short Program& Door Prize Drawing at 3 pm)
--Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 3-7 p.m. (Short Program& Door Prize Drawing at 5 pm)
We hope to see you at one or more of these events during 2016!
Preparing for Your 2016 Hummingbird Garden?
-Select Seeds & Antique Flowers Winter Special:  $10 off your order of $50 or more until February 29, 2016 (code is “SELECT10”).  Visit their website at to order.  They offer many hummingbird attracting salvias and Cuphea ‘David Verity’.  They also carry many seeds.
-Flowers By The Sea:  Amazing array of hummingbird attracting salvias and other plants that attract hummingbirds.  Many varieties are rare and not offered anywhere else.  They have the best plants, shipping and customer service out there!!  We highly recommend.  Visit their website at:
-Klein’s Floral, Madison, Wisconsin
To see their listing of amazing annuals for 2016, visit the following link:
--The Bruce Company, Middleton, Wisconsin
-The Flower Factory, Stoughton, Wisconsin (opening April 16, 2016)
Their printed catalog is a wonderful resource and a horticulture lesson in itself!!
---Vincent Gardens:  Specialty online nursery offering flowering plants and shrubs for pollinators
Cost of plants and shipping is extremely reasonable and plants are huge!!

Sunday, September 6, 2015


Hi Everyone,

We hope to see many of you at our upcoming Hummingbird Garden Tours on Wednesday, September 9 from 3-7 p.m. (door prize drawing at 5 p.m.) and/or Sunday, September 13 from 1-5:30 p.m. (door prize drawing at 3 p.m.) at our home in Madison, WI, 5118 Buffalo Trail.

Just a few important updates:

-Hummingbird Banding will only occur at the Sunday, September 13 tour.  Because of circumstances beyond her control, Mickey O'Connor can only band for one of the tours.  Mickey and her crew will be here banding hummingbirds in the morning on Sunday (if you wish to come then, it's OK, but there is no official garden tour being offered until 1 p.m.) and afternoon during the tour.

-Please be aware and warned that our numbers of hummingbirds are way down this year despite our offering them all of the same food and habitat---we sadly cannot explain the reason for this unfortunate trend---we learned many years ago that humans cannot control nature or wildlife.  We cannot guarantee that the same numbers of hummingbirds will be in attendance at our tours. However, we can show you a beautiful, interesting and well-tended garden and the food, door prize drawings, and the camaraderie will all be here.  We will have a hummingbird DVD playing in our sun room and will offer printed information about attracting hummingbirds, etc.  We hope that you will still want to join us.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

-The weather may be cool and perhaps even rainy for one or both of the tours.  This is typical for Wisconsin in September.  The tours will take place rain or shine.  Please dress for the weather and wear practical shoes, especially if it's raining.  If it is a cold day, we will offer hot cider, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate!!

Again, thank you for your wonderful support of us and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Best Wishes,

Kathi and Michael


“Finally, I realized what makes my garden exciting is me. Living in it every day, participating minutely in each small event, I see with doubled and redoubled vision. Where friends notice a solitary hummingbird pricking the salvia flowers, I recall a season's worth of hummingbird battles.”--Janice Emily Bowers (Bowers is a botanist--that is, someone who studies plants. She did not consider herself a gardener until recently. Now, however, her passions are compost; the birds, butterflies, and lizards that inhabit her garden; and the food webs they represent. Bowers's essays evoke the fascination of gardens yet accept the contradictions involved in creating a natural world that is, in fact, unnatural, for her vegetables and riotous flowers are unsuited to life in her desert home. Nonetheless, this is a delightful garden journal that all gardeners, especially those in the Southwest, will appreciate. Bowers is also the author of The Mountains Next Door ( LJ 9/1/91).
- Katharine Galloway Garstka, Intergraph Corp., Huntsville, Ala.
Hi Everyone,
We hope that you are all having a wonderful summer and are enjoying your families, hummingbirds, and your gardens.  It took what seemed like months for summer to arrive in Madison, but it is finally here (now if we could only get a little rain!) Hummingbirds are reaching the end of their breeding season and will soon migrate south to their winter homes and once again we will be missing them.  Every summer /early fall moment with our hummingbirds is special and valuable and we must embrace it now.
One important issue that continues is the difficulty of sending large group e-mails to people.  Many e-mail programs, Yahoo being one, no longer accept these types of group e-mails.  We all understand not wanting to receive annoying spam and junk e-mails, but hopefully, our updates do not fall into those unfavorable categories!!  One of my hesitations in continuing to work on these updates is that most people who are currently on our mailing list may not longer receive them (or, as a separate issue---they do not keep us updated on their new e-mail address and we have no way to look this up and update it in our records.)  We could simply post the updates on our website, but the likelihood that people on our mailing list would regularly visit our website without a reminder of some kind is very remote.  So, the dilemma is, what to do to communicate with people?  Thank you for any ideas you may have on this important topic.  We will be setting up a Facebook page this winter and that may help with this issue a little and invite some new people to join us, but any other ideas would be greatly appreciated.
We are very pleased to announce the dates of our upcoming 2015 HUMMINGBIRD GARDEN TOURS:
-WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 3-7 p.m. (door prize drawing at 5 p.m.)
-SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 1-5:30 p.m. (door prize drawing at 3 p.m.)
Both tours are at our home, 5118 Buffalo Trail in Madison and will occur rain or shine.   Please note that major road construction is being done on Eau Claire Avenue that will not be completed until early October.  You will need to access our home from North Whitney Way---going north, turn right on Door Drive, go one short block and turn left on Green Lake Pass and then right on Buffalo Trail (sometimes one lane on Eau Claire is open to traffic, but there are never any guarantees, so the best way to come is from Whitney Way.  If you are coming west on Regent Street, turn right on Whitney Way and then make an immediate right onto Door Drive.
We hope to see some of you there and are excited to share our hummingbirds and garden with you.  We have been working very hard on our garden this year.  If you have any questions about the Garden Tours, please e-mail me   
With fondest best wishes,
Michael & Kathi
We would like to invite you to our upcoming Hummingbird Garden Tours at our home, 5118 Buffalo Trail in Madison, Wisconsin, 53705.  For those of you who don’t know where we are located, here is information about how to find us:
Please note the issue with Eau Claire Avenue explained above.
It is not necessary to RSVP unless you have a special need or request of some kind (unfortunately, our yard is not wheelchair accessible with the exception of our front garden area).  Please wear comfortable and practical shoes and be aware that there are many bees this year---if you are allergic to bee stings, please be aware and come prepared (any kind of heavy fragrance will attract bees and may cause them to sting you, so avoid wearing fragrance for your own safety and the safety of others! )
Light snacks and beverages will be provided.  If you would like to, please bring something simple to add to the food table (no pork or shellfish please) or a favorite beverage.  You can also bring a small bag of sugar or potting soil, but this is completely optional.
Please note that you must be present to win a door prize.  Door prizes have been generously donated by Wildbirds Unlimited in Middleton, Michael and Kathi Rock, and John and Helena Nolan.  We wish to thank Wildbirds Unlimited for their wonderful and long time generosity and support of our work and we hope that you will patronize their beautiful store for all of your birding and nature inspired gift needs.
The event will be held rain or shine (pray for hummingbirds and dry weather!)
If you have any questions or concerns, please call (608-233-7397) or e-mail ( Kathi.
HUMMINGBIRD BANDING WITH MICKEY O’CONNOR!!  Learn more about Mickey and her banding efforts at:
We are so excited about having Mickey join us again!
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2015, 3:00-7:00 P.M. (HUMMINGBIRD ITEM DOOR PRIZE DRAWING,  generously sponsored in part by Wildbirds Unlimited, Middleton, WI & John & Helena Nolan AT 5 P.M.) & SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2015, 1:00-5:30 P.M. (Hummingbird Item Door Prize Drawing at 3 p.m.!) 
5118 BUFFALO TRAIL (West of the Hilldale Mall & Oscar Rennebohm Park), Madison, WI   53705
Questions only (no need to RSVP) CALL 233-7397 OR E-MAIL KATHI JOHNSON ROCK AT KATHIJR@YAHOO.COM.   Visit our website at  for more information
Hummingbird Species Expected:  Ruby-throated Hummingbird
New Plants in Our Garden This Year
-Cuphea ‘vermillionaire’
-Delphinium ‘Forester’s Hybrids’
-Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame’
-Digiplexis ‘Illumination Raspberry’
-Duranta erecta
-Lilium henryi
-Lilium lancifolium
-Lilium speciosum rubrum
-Salvia alegria
-Verbena hastata
Returning Hummingbird (and Butterfly!) Favorites
-Agastache (several varieities)
-Azalea (several varieties)
-Buckeye (Dwarf Red and Bottlebrush)
-Buddleia ‘Orange Sceptre’
-Buddleia davidii
-Buddleia lindleyana (Weeping Butterfly Bush)
-Campsis radicans (Trumpet Creeper)
-Canna ‘Robert Kemp’
-Canna indica (several varieties)
-Chelone (White and Pink Turtle’s head)
-Clinopodium coccineum ‘Amber Blush’
-Cuphea ‘David Verity’
-Cuphea schumannii
-Eccremocarpus scaber (Chilean Glory Vine)
-Fuchsia triphylla and magellanica
-Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon)
-Hosta (over 50 varieties!!)
-Impatiens balfouri
-Impatiens capensis
-Impatiens glandulifera
-Ipomoea coccinea (small red morning glory)
-Ligularia ‘The Rocket’
-Lobelia cardinalis
-Manietta cordifolia
-Monarda ‘Jacob Kline’
-Nicotiana glauca
-Nicotiana mutabilis
-Nicotiana from The University of Kentucky
-Penstemon ‘Firebird’
-Ruellia brittoniana 'Purple Showers'
-Rueliia elegans
-Ruellia humilis
-Salvia ‘Amistad’
-Salvia ‘Big Swing’
-Salvia ‘Hot Lips’
-Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’
-Salvia ‘Purple Majesty’
-Salvia ‘Silkie’s Dream’
-Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’
-Salvia atrocyanea
-Salvia chiapensis
-Salvia coccinea
-Salvia darcyi
-Salvia ‘Ember’s Wish’-Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’
Salvia gachantivana
-Salvia greggii (many varieties)
-Salvia guaranitica (several varieties)
-Salvia involucrata (Rosebud Sage) (several varieties)
-Salvia maraschino
-Salvia microphylla (many varieties)
-Salvia miniata
-Salvia muelleri
-Salvia Mulberry Jam
-Salvia Phyllis Fancy
-Salvia subrotunda
-Salvia Waverly
-Scrophularia marilandica
-Silene regia
-Sinningia (several Varieties)
-Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
-Verbena  bonariensis
-Zauschneria latifolia
-Zinnia elegans
OTHER PLANTS (For us, not the hummingbirds!!)
-Hardy Hibiscus
-Lespedeza  (Bush Clover)
-Salvia glutinosa
We are so excited to announce that a vagrant immature male Rufous hummingbird that was banded by Mickey O’Connor late last summer in Mayville, Wisconsin has returned to the same feeder again as an adult bird.    Typically when Western hummingbirds are documented or banded in the Upper Midwest, they are never seen again and we don’t know what happened to them.  In this case, because of banding, we are able to report that it is the same bird returning to the same location.  These tough little hummingbirds have the longest migration route of any hummingbird (over 2,000 miles as they migrate from Central America and Mexico to Alaska to breed each spring and a few fly east before flying south again in the late summer/early fall) and are one of the most cold-hardy hummingbirds.  For a photo and more details about this amazing story, please click on the link below:
Two feeders that have passed the longevity test in our garden and have the approval of our hummingbirds are:
-Perky Pet Pinch Waist Hummingbird Feeder
-First Nature Hummingbird Feeder
There are many other feeder styles that can be safely and successfully used (although each type has its advantages and disadvantages.)   As a reminder, here is information about how to use hummingbird feeders in your garden:
FEEDER MAINTENANCE & CLEANING (Courtesy of Master Hummingbird Bander, Lanny Chambers,
Here's the recipe for artificial nectar (syrup):
  • Use one part ordinary white cane sugar to four parts water.
  • It's not necessary to boil the water. The microorganisms that cause fermentation don't come from the water; they are transported to the feeder on hummingbird bills.
  • Store unused syrup in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
This mixture approximates the average sucrose content (about 21%) of the flowers favored by North American hummingbirds, without being so sweet it attracts too many insects.
Distilled water may be used instead of tapwater. However, some researchers are concerned that distilled water lacks minerals that hummingbirds need, and believe it would be prudent to add a pinch of sodium-free salt, which contain potassium chloride, to feeder solutions made with distilled or demineralized water. This should help bring the salt content of artificial nectar back in line with that of natural nectar and help prevent electrolyte deficiencies. Do not use table salt (sodium chloride). Adding salt is not necessary if well or tap water is used.
Any syrup solution will spoil eventually, regardless of temperature, so strict maintenance is required (see below).
For the sake of completeness: another view of syrup concentration appeared in the May 1993 article by Reed Hainsworth and Larry Wolf, both noted hummingbird researchers. However, it's not clear that the health of the birds was considered, or merely their preferences - like children, hummers may tend to eat more candy than is good for them - and there is still a suspicion that high sugar concentrations can cause liver damage in hummingbirds. When I wrote Dr. Hainsworth asking for a reference to a more rigorously-scientific treatment of his data (i.e., a published paper), his reply dodged the question. Without reflection upon anyone's reputation, I stand by the opinion of the majority of hummingbird researchers, that a 1:4 mixture has been shown to do no harm, and any other formula must remain suspect.
There are some specialized protein-added hummingbird food mixtures (e.g., Nektar Plus) that are useful in laboratory or rehabilitation settings, where no natural food is available, or possibly in emergency winter situations when hummingbirds will die without it. But realize that these mixtures are especially vulnerable to spoiling and in an ordinary feeder setting during warm weather would need to be changed every few hours.
Feeder Maintenance
Hanging a hummingbird feeder means assuming a certain amount of responsibility for the well-being of a fragile and trusting animal. If you are not prepared to follow the rigorous maintenance routine outlined below, perhaps you should consider planting a hummingbird garden, instead.
Experts tell me that hummingbirds will starve rather than consume spoiled feeder syrup, so a dirty feeder isn't likely to cause harm. But it may cost you the pleasure of their company if they abandon your yard for more reliable food sources elsewhere.
Every filling, flush the feeder with hot tap water; a bottle brush can be very helpful. Do not use soap - hummers apparently don't like the taste, but bleach will remove it if you have this problem. Visually inspect the entire feeder for black mold; a bleach soak (see the next paragraph) is the best way to remove mold. Discard any unconsumed sugar water. If the birds are not emptying your feeder between cleanings, it's unnecessary and wasteful to fill it completely. If the sugar solution in your feeder turns cloudy, it's spoiled and needs to be replaced. This can happen in as little as two days.
At least once a month, clean the feeder thoroughly with a solution of 1/4 cup bleach to one gallon of water. Soak the feeder in this solution for one hour, then clean with a bottle brush. Rinse well with running water and refill. Any remaining traces of bleach will be neutralized by reacting with the fresh syrup, and there's no need to air dry before refilling. Bleach is both safe and very effective.
These is evidence that bleach accelerates leaching of BPA (a chemical known to cause genetic damage in mammals) from polycarbonate plastic. No one, as far as I know, has studied its effects on birds. If you are concerned about BPA, use full-strength white vinegar instead of bleach.
When to Take Down the Feeder
Hummingbirds will not delay migration if a feeder is present; they are driven by forces more powerful than hunger. If you live in the southeastern U.S., leaving a feeder up might attract one of the western hummers that visit the region in small numbers every winter. The Pacific coast of the U.S. (and extreme southwestern Canada) has a population of non-migratory Anna's Hummingbirds; if a feeder is maintained over the winter, hummers will visit it year-round. Some other locations near the Mexican border also have winter populations of several hummingbird species. See the About Hummingbirds section for more information.
They will find your feeder, unless you take precautions. Buy a dripless feeder; they really make a difference. Some feeder models feature a built-in ant moat that may be filled with water; don't use oil, since chickadees and other small birds like to drink from ant moats. You can make your own moat by running the hang wire through a hole in a spraycan top (use a dab of silicone sealer or hot glue to seal the hole). But the best defense against ants is to paint the inside bottom of an ant moat with Tanglefoot, a very sticky goo sold at nurseries, and install the moat open side down. This is extremely effective against ants, poses no risk of a bird getting stuck or contaminated, and is low maintenance, since it keeps the goo from being compromised by rain and dust. If you use Tanglefoot, or any other sticky or oily substance, you must be absolutely sure it cannot come into contact with a bird.
I no longer recommend using duct tape or castor oil around suction cups or on hang wires. There's too much chance of a hummer brushing against it during feeder fights.
Bees, Wasps, and Yellowjackets
Bees and wasps are attracted to the color yellow. Since many hummingbird feeders have yellow plastic "flowers" or other parts, try removing such parts or painting them red before hanging your feeder in the spring - once bees learn where food is, they fly right back to the hive to tell all their friends, so avoiding their attention up front works best.
You can buy a feeder with bee guards. However, those tend to be the drippiest feeders available (Perky-Pet "Four Flowers," etc.), and once they start dripping the bee guards are useless, since puddles form in the flowers outside of the bee guards, an easy meal for insects.
Bees tell each other about good nectar sources using pheromones, so it may help to clean the feeder daily with vinegar. It may also help to rub a clove of garlic around the ports. I don't recommend using Pam or other oils or greases on hummingbird feeders.
The only sure defense against bees and wasps is to absolutely deny them access to the syrup. In June 1997 I replaced my Perky-Pet 210-P with a HummZinger, which is inherently wasp-proof because the syrup level is too low for insects to reach, but easily in range of the shortest hummingbird tongue. I also bought a Perky-Pet Oasis feeder, a copy of the HummZinger with several design flaws, but just as effective against bees. Basin feeders are also available from Opus and other companies, and all are effective in denying food to bees and wasps. All are also easy to clean.
If you choose not to try a new feeder and wasps persist, first try moving the feeder, even just a few feet; insects are not very smart, and will assume the food source is gone forever. They may never find it in its new location, while the hummers will barely notice that it was moved. If that doesn't work, take the feeder down for a day, or until you stop seeing wasps looking for it. You'll see hummers looking for it, too, but they won't give up nearly as soon as the wasps. Also, reducing the sugar concentration to 1 part sugar in 5 parts water will make it less attractive to insects, but probably won't make the hummingbirds lose interest.
The feeders you use must be convergence of hummingbirds safely and consistently using them, being easy to clean, and being put up in a place where you can easily see and enjoy them.  Happy Hummingbird feeding!! 
Please contact us with any questions about hummingbird feeders.
Local nurseries in the Upper Midwest often sell Salvia elegans for sale as a hummingbird plant (the leaves also have culinary uses, which is a different reason to grow this plant).  We have tried this plant numerous times and it either does not flower at all or blooms so late that it is no longer useful for hummingbirds (early November!)   This is a wonderful hummingbird plant for hummingbird gardeners living in warmer climates with longer growing seasons and winter hummingbird visits (Florida, Gulf Coast states, Arizona).  We recommend that you skip purchasing this plant (unless you are looking for a houseplant with red flowers in early winter!) and direct your purchases and gardening efforts to long blooming salvias such as Salvias guaranitica or ‘Amistad’ instead.
Mickey O’Connor, hummingbird bander and International Committee member for the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, will once again be leading a two week bird conservation trip to the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica this winter (January 19-February 1, 2016.)  If you are interested in exploring this phenomenal opportunity to view the amazing birds of Costa Rica (including the same Ruby-throated hummingbirds we see here in Wisconsin---an amazing sight), please e-mail me at and I can send you additional details about the trip and Mickey’s contact information.  The tour group will be limited to 10 persons.  To learn more about the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative and the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica visit or
This wonderful trip will be an unforgettable experience!!
UPDATE:  We recently learned that this trip to Costa Rica is now filled for 2016, but Mickey has made a commitment to lead the trip every winter, so we hope you will consider it for 2017!!
As the horticultural world is finally beginning to realize that many gardeners garden with hummingbirds in mind, hummingbird favorite plants such as Cuphea and “New World” salvias are becoming more available and easy to purchase.  When we reflect back on what it was like to garden for hummingbirds 15 years ago and how obscure these plants were then, we are amazed when we see what plant shopping (both online and locally)  is like today.  We now have many outstanding mail order nurseries that provide superb plants and excellent customer service (Flowers By The Sea,, springs to mind as one shining example) and local nurseries all over the country and even big box stores are offering more hummingbird-attracting plants.  These developments are so positive for all of us and nurseries must be pleased as well, despite the difficulties, uncertainties, and complexities of the plant nursery business.
A few new hybrid forms of older hummingbird plants have recently entered the market and we would like to highlight and discuss those varieties:
-Cuphea ‘vermillionaire’:  For years, Cuphea ‘David Verity’ (hybrid of Cuphea ‘micropetala’ and Cuphea ‘ignea’) was the gold standard cuphea for the hummingbird gardener.  It was very challenging to find and many northern gardeners overwintered their plants inside as best as they could to avoid having to search and reorder for the next season.  Cuphea ignea, the easiest to find cuphea both locally and by mail order, is not ideal for hummingbirds because the flower tubes are too tight for their bills to easily obtain nectar---the creation of Cuphea ‘David Verity’ corrected this problem and was an easy plant to grow and versatile in the garden (its major downfall is how attractive it also is to Japanese Beetles!)
This year, Proven Winners came out with its own cuphea hybrid called ‘vermillionaire’.  It is widely available  in local nurseries and big box stores, and online.  In our opinion, it has a different growth habit than ‘David Verity’---it is a little shorter, with smaller leaves and denser foliage, and the flower tubes seem shorter, but still wider than Cuphea ignea, so hummingbirds can and will use it.  Unfortunately, Japanese Beetles are crazy about this plant, much more so than ‘David Verity.’
We are growing both Cuphea ‘vermillionaire’ and Cuphea ‘David Verity’ this season in very close proximity.  We have found that hummingbirds will visit both, but seem to prefer Cuphea ‘David Verity’.  Given how attractive ‘vermillionaire’ is to Japanese Beetles, we will probably only grow Cuphea ‘David Verity’ next season.  Also, we tended to plant overwintered Cuphea ‘David Verity’ plants in the ground and they grow as tall as 3-4 feet depending on how much sun they receive---we are not sure that ‘Vermillionaire’ would be at all useful outside of a container.
-Salvia ‘Amistad’ (Friendship Sage):  Salvia guarantica ‘Black and Blue’ and Salvia ‘Purple Majesty’ were our best blue and purple salvias for hummingbirds for years.  Both had their downfalls, although hummingbirds loved them.  Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ was on the short side and only flowered well in full sun (other hybrid will be out next year called Salvia ‘Black and Bloom’ which sports many more flowers per plant than ‘Black and Blue’).  Salvia ‘Purple Majesty’ was a large, lanky plant with huge purple flowers that broke off at the drop of a hat and always required staking and often didn’t bloom until mid-summer.  Well, along came Salvia ‘Amistad’ from Rolando Uria in Argentina.  This breathtakingly beautiful plant improved on all of these issues: it flowers vigorously even in some shade, never breaks off or requires staking (we had a seven foot tall overwintered specimen in our garden last season that stood on its own power!), and is full, and lush, and it flowers continuously all season long (late spring to mid-fall).  We love the look of this plant and how carefree it is, but sadly we only see occasional hummingbirds visiting the flowers.  We still grow Salvia guarantica ‘Black and Blue’ (as well as the species Salvia guarantica without the black flower bracts) and Salvia ‘Purple Majesty’ and see more frequent hummingbird visits.  Because we like the look of all three plants and Salvia ‘Amistad’ is so widely available, we will probably still continue to grow all three plants in the future.
To muddy the waters even further, there is another purple Salvia on the market and available in many local nurseries called Salvia ‘Brazilian Purple’---we believe it to be a hybrid of Salvia guarantica and Salvia splendens.  It is a very attractive plant that is easy to grow.  If we find it again locally, we may also grow that one despite only limited hummingbird usage in our garden.
-Salvias ‘Wendy’s Wish’, ‘Ember’s Wish’ and ‘Love and Wishes’:  These chance hybrid salvias from Australia are fairly widely available at better local nurseries and online.  They are attractive, easy to grow and resilient  everblooming salvias and are substitutes for more particular and unreliable bloomers such as Salvia involucrata, Salvia ‘Mulberry Jam’, and Salvia buchananii (which are also more obscure plants that are not easy for the average gardener to locate and purchase).  We sense that Salvia splendens is reflected in these Australian hybrid salvias, but Salvia splendens on its own is not a top tier hummingbird plant while these new hybrid forms do reliably  attract hummingbirds (especially when grown as container plants.)  A portion of the sales of these plants is directed  to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which is a laudable goal.  We will continue to grow these new hybrids as well as the other more difficult to obtain plants mentioned above, as we see many hummingbirds choosing them and they are strikingly attractive.
It is always interesting to try a new plant, especially if you can find it at your local nursery, but you must carefully evaluate it for hummingbird value and other factors such as ease of growing, appeal to destructive insects, and a growth habit that is easy to control, and general attractiveness of the plant.
Many people write to us and say that they are very disappointed by the numbers of hummingbirds visiting their garden despite use of well maintained hummingbird feeders and establishment of an extensive hummingbird garden.  The two questions we might ask are:
-Do you live in an urban, suburban or rural location?  If you live in a city or even a suburb, attracting hummingbirds to your garden no matter what you provide will be much more challenging, but not impossible.  Unlike some of the Western hummingbird species (Anna’s is a good example), Ruby-throated hummingbirds are not really “urban” birds and much prefer the privacy and seclusion of a rural or wooded location or at least a small town setting.
-Do you have good mature tree cover and thick shrubbery on your property?  A moving water source is also very helpful.
We often recommend to people just starting out on this journey of hummingbird attracting that they plant trees on their property as a first step  (if they are not already present.)  We were very lucky---when we moved into our home 17 years ago, we actually had too many trees---the prior owners of our home loved trees and there were many volunteer trees and a few that were diseased and had to be removed immediately.
Surprisingly, hummingbirds spend about 75% of their day perching.  Many people believe that most of the hummingbird’s time, especially during the fall migration period, is spent feeding and chasing.  Well, that simply is not true.  At some times of the year, we see hummingbirds perch in our trees (and we have their favorite perching spots memorized by now) and they never feed from a single feeder or flower, but we can see them hawking for insects.  Many insects live in trees and insects are an essential ingredient of a hummingbird’s daily diet.  Hummingbirds can also use trees and thick shrubbery as places to escape from predators.  At night, the birds will roost in a secluded spot high in trees. During nesting season, female Ruby-throated hummingbirds will build their nests in the crook of a downward sloping branch about 25 feet off the ground.  For hummingbirds, trees are everything.  If most of your property is turf grass and garden areas, you sadly just may not see that many hummingbirds (despite your gardening efforts and providing feeders).  It is simply not normal for a Ruby-throated hummingbird to hang out in a garden with no trees for perching (it would be a little like people visiting a home with no furniture for a dinner party)!
If you are one of those unlucky hummingbird gardeners with no or few trees, what do you do?  The answer is quite simple---start planting trees.  Identify fast growing trees with good disease resistance that are hardy in your area and grab your shovel sooner rather than later.  It will also help to find the largest tree specimens available, otherwise you and your hummingbirds may wait many years to enjoy a mature tree.  You may want to check out the following site: (you can click on any state in the U.S. to get recommendations.)
We would recommend that you include at least one pine tree and a Blue Spruce---both of these have been extremely valuable to our hummingbirds and other birds, especially as temperatures drop in the fall and winter.
You might also wish to consider the following trees:
  • Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
  • Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)
  • Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
  • Hawthorne (Crataegus)
  • American Holly (Ilex opaca)
  • Juniper---Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
  • Mulberry (Morus rubra)---can be a messy tree, but many people and birds enjoy the fruit!
  • Oak (Quercus)
  • Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)
  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier)
  • Cranberry Bush (Viburnum)----choose varieties with red berries.
  • Horsechestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum x carnea)---red flowers in spring.
Although it is native and hardy in the Upper Midwest, one tree to NEVER consider planting is the poisonous Black Walnut Tree (we had a squirrel plant a  Black Walnut tree in our yard that we finally removed!)  The roots of a Black Walnut Tree produce a toxic substance called juglone which may make it very difficult or impossible to grow some plants in that area (up to 80 feet away from the Black Walnut Tree).  You may also find huge numbers of volunteer Black Walnut Trees as squirrels “plant” the nuts in your yard.
Your tree selection should reflect your own taste and desires for your property and you can certainly consult with a nursery professional who can even help you get your new trees sited, planted, and established.  Spring or Fall are acceptable times to plant, but fall planting in colder northern areas can be challenging.  Here is an article:
You must make sure that large trees are not planted too close to your home or in areas where they could encroach on a neighbor’s property or home.  You must know the mature width and height of a tree beforehand so you can plant accordingly (which is why professional help is recommended, especially if you have limited space for trees).  You will also want to make sure that new trees receive adequate sun exposure, are not planted too deeply, and are watered regularly and deeply until they are well established.
You may also want to check out the following link about hiring a professional arborist to help you with your tree-related goals:
It is always easier and more fun to think about enhancing our property with feeders and flowers, but our trees and shrubs are extremely valuable foundation elements in our gardens which must be included for success in attracting hummingbirds and other migratory and non-migratory birds.
Fastest Things on Wings, Rescusing Hummingbirds in Hollywood by Terry Masear, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2015. This brand new book brings hummingbird rehabilitation to life in a vivid and interesting way that will even be entertaining and meaningful to a non-hummingbird loving person.  We heard about this book at the recent Sedona Hummingbird Festival and wanted to check it out for ourselves.  A full report will be given in our next update.  Available from and your local bookseller.
Hummingbirds, An In-Depth Look at the Habits & Behaviors of These Colorful, Fascinating Creatures by Erik Hanson, Stackpole Books, 2009.  This extremely detailed, even scholarly, book will entice the person who is passionate about studying hummingbirds. The book includes many beautiful photos and drawings of species in the US and Central and South America.  All of the most vital areas of study of hummingbird behavior and how to attract them to your property are explored in great detail.  A more complete review will be forthcoming.  Available from and perhaps your local library.
REMINDER:  LEAVING YOUR HUMMINGBIRD FEEDERS UP UNTIL THANKSGIVING WILL NOT ENCOURAGE BIRDS WHO NEED TO MIGRATE SOUTH TO REMAIN IN YOUR YARD AND YOUR FEEDERS MAY EVEN HELP THEM (we hosted an immature male Ruby-throated hummingbird until November 17 in 2010).  You might even be lucky enough to attract a Rufous hummingbird to your property.  However, the nectar must be kept fresh and the feeders cleaned---if you cannot commit to doing this, you should take the feeders down for the health and safety of hummingbirds.
Michael & Kathi Rock
5118 Buffalo Trail
Madison, WI   53705