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Hummingbirds nectering differently this year?

11 years ago

Last year we had way fewer plants, as we didn't really own the Cottage yet. Mostly just some foxglove, delphinium and butterfly bushes. This year we have those plus many others including salvia, sage, butterfly weed, lobilia, bee balm...for some reason, the hummers seem confused this year though. They keep going to/hovering around the japanese quince, which hasn't been in bloom for months. They have ignored the Hosta scapes, which they were all about last year.

I picked up a few velvet buzz butterfly bushes and while we were there I mentioned I wanted the red ones specifically for the hummingbirds (I have plenty of purple ones, and a yellow). I also mentioned they seemed "off" this year, and the woman at the nursery said she had noticed the same thing-they were hovering around/at non-flowering plants, ignoring usual ones, etc.

So as I was watering what needed it last night I began to wonder if the drought has made the nectar different some how. I only water what needs it, so plants like the butterfly bushes only get it when something around them need watered (the established ones are happily drought tolerant). The salvia gets unhappy when not watered regularly (probably still getting established), and the lobelia is relatively new (2 weeks maybe?) so it was also watered regularly at the garden center and now as I get it established. The hummers ARE going for those (wendy's wish more than black and blue)....

Does anyone know if drought DOES effect nectar? Perhaps it's less/more concentrated, or there is less of it? Maybe it just tastes different?

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