Florida’s Native Flora & Fauna: Red Buckeye and Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Featuring some of Florida’s native flora (plant life) and fauna (animal life) so you can learn to recognize, appreciate, and protect native species.

Florida’s Native Flora & Fauna Featuring some of Florida’s native flora (plant life) and fauna (animal life) so you can learn to recognize, appreciate, and protect native species. We’ll also aim to dispel myths and provide tips for managing conflicts with wildlife.  Red Buckeye   The red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) is a small, deciduous tree native to the southeastern United States, extending west Texas and as far north    as southern Illinois.    In Florida, it grows well in north and central locations, zones 8-9A. This tree’s small size (15-20 feet tall and wide), course texture, and versatile light requirement and soil tolerances means most landscapes can accommodate a red buckeye.   In winter, gardeners find the light brown, flaky bark appealing. But it’s the springtime display of color that is most attractive.    Beautiful red flowers emerge in clusters on panicles that are very showy. Their tubular shape also makes them attractive to hummingbirds.    Leaves are palmately compound (usually made up of 5 leaflets), adding to the attractiveness of the tree.   Red buckeye will flower well in dense shade but has better form when grown in full sun with some afternoon shade.  Plant in moist, well-drained soil, and remember to irrigate during dry spells to keep it healthy.    For more information, see: Aesculus pavia, Red Buckeye https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st064  Ruby-throated Hummingbird   Hummingbirds live only in the Americas. Of the 338 species known, 16 are found in the United States and 3 occur in Florida. Black-chinned and rufous hummingbirds can be seen in Florida during the winter, but the ruby-throated hummingbird is by far the most common in the state.    These birds are small—about 3 inches—and weigh as little as a penny (¼ ounce). Their back feathers are metallic green, but their name derives from the ruby red throat plumage found on mature males. The throat feathers contain air bubbles that give off an iridescent red tone in full light.    Hummingbirds have the fascinating ability to perform helicopter-like flying stunts. Not only can hummers suspend their bodies in midair, but they can also fly backward, upward, even upside down.     Nesting in Florida begins in April. The walnut-size nest is constructed with plant down, lichens, moss, and bound with spider webs or fine plant fibers. The female lays 2 eggs less than ½ inch long. After 20 days of incubation and 4 weeks of growing, young hummingbirds leave the nest.    Adults feed primarily on nectar. Young are fed insects by their parents but are switched to a mostly nectar diet by the time they leave the nest. One hummingbird may need nectar from hundreds of blossoms every day to maintain its body weight.    Artificial feeders should not be the sole source of food provided. The sugar solution provides little  nourishment and must be changed every 3-5 days to prevent lethal bacterial growth. Clean the feeders  with hot water and white vinegar. Do not use soap or chlorine bleach.   For a list of hummingbird plants, see link below! Adapted and excerpted from: Hummingbirds of Florida https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw059

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aesculus pavia, Red Buckeye https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st064

Hummingbirds of Florida https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw059

 

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Posted: May 13, 2022


Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes, Horticulture, Natural Resources, Wildlife
Tags: Landscaping, Native Plants, Pollinators, Special Topics, Wildlife, Wildlife Habitat


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