Episode 91 – The Hummingbird Show

Ground Breaking Banter - Rick

Hummingbirds are one of the most beloved garden visitors, and many of us are fortunate to see them often. So it’s worth taking some time to consider just how amazing and special these tiny little birds really are. That’s why we invited three bird experts to join us today and share their knowledge and enthusiasm for hummingbirds.

Here in segment one, we’re joined by our friend Birdman Bill Stovall to talk about hummingbird nesting habits. Learn which trees they particularly like to build their nests in, and why it’s so important that their nests have stretch and flex (and it’s all thanks to spiderwebs!). 

This is one episode you are definitely going to want to hear our whole conversations with our guests instead of our shorter radio edits – check it out at the YouTube link above or on your favorite podcast platform. 

Hummingbird feeders are great, but there’s no question that if you really want to roll out the welcome mat for them, you need flowers. And not just flowers at the height of summer when so much is blooming – you need diverse food sources for them from mid-spring when they begin their migration all the way through fall when they migrate back. That’s why today’s plant on trial is Snippet Dark Pink weigela. It’s a reblooming weigela, so it blooms in late spring along with other weigela, but after it takes a brief rest to put on new growth, puts out ensuing waves of pink flowers, summer through fall. And those flowers have the trumpet shape that hummingbirds love so much! Another reason I chose Snippet Dark Pink weigela for this episode is because it is one of relatively few dwarf weigela – it reaches just 1-2′ tall and wide – it’s a weigela that just about anyone has room for. It can be grown in a container or any small space, provided it has full sun.

Of course, there is a huge list of plants that attract and sustain hummingbirds besides weigela, so we share some additional favorites, including rose of Sharon, Temple of Bloom heptacodium, cardinal flower, trumpet vine, butterfly bush, phlox, penstemon, agastache, and milkweed, just to name a few. Of course, if you live in a warmer climate, you’ll have another whole range of exciting options that are perfectly suited to your climate, whether it’s hot and humid or hot and arid. If possible, be sure to include at least some species that are native to your area in your plantings. 

If you’d like to add Snippet Dark Pink weigela– or any of the 320+ Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs – to your garden or landscape, you’ll find a list of local retailers here

Segment three - an interview with Allen Chartier

Mail Bag will return next week – if you have a question, E-mail us or use the contact tab above. Due to high volume, we may not get to your question, so if you need an answer quickly, please reach out via the Proven Winners website.

In this segment we’re joined by Allen Chartier, aka Michigan Hummingbird Guy. Allen is a true lover of the natural world, as evidenced by the books he has written, his amazing photography, and his birding reports. Allen is a long-time bird bander and is one of very few people trained and licensed to band hummingbirds. Bird banding is administered through the US Geological Survey and is used to learn more about birds’ migratory habits. Of course, we had to ask him just how small a band for a hummingbird is, and it’s even tinier than you could have imagined. In fact, a band for chickadee, which is still a very small bird, is eight times larger than the one used for hummingbirds. He generously shared this photo of a hummingbird band to show just how tiny they truly are:
A tiny metal band sits on a human male fingertip, illustrating the astonishingly small size of a band used to band hummingbirds as part of a research project.

(Photo courtesy of Allen Chartier and used with his permission)

Please join us on YouTube or podcast to hear our whole fascinating conversation with Allen.

Segment four - an interview with Sheri Williamson

Last but certainly not least, we’re joined by Sheri Williamson, a naturalist, ornithologist, conservationist, writer, speaker, artist, and author of the Peterson’s Guide to hummingbirds. She currently works for the Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary in Hereford, Arizona, right in the hottest hummingbird spot in the US. Clearly, Sheri is an expert on hummingbirds and we loved talking with her. We both learned so much but what we really loved is her inspiring perspective on the relationship between humans and nature. We truly hope you’ll take the time to listen to our whole conversation with Sheri, and if you happen to be in Arizona, that you’ll take the opportunity to visit Ash Canyon Bird Sanctuary and see the amazing work that Sheri and her team are doing there.

Pink rose of Sharon flowers bloom on a plant with variegated foliage.

Episode 92 – Weeding by Example

Ah, weeds – maybe the #1 thing that discourages people from gardening. But weeds are interesting and become a lot easier to manage when you apply some basic IPM principles. Featured shrub: Sugar Tip rose of Sharon.

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A white lacecap panicle hydrangea flower is visited by a female swallowtail butterfly.

Episode 90 – Easy To Grow Plants

What makes a plant easy to grow? Planting it in the right place, for one. We’ll elaborate on that and share other tips for selecting and growing plants to simplify gardening! Featured shrub: Little Quick Fire panicle hydrangea.

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