Summer buzz

See hummingbirds along flowery paths in Salt Lake City

"If I were a hummingbird, Red Butte Garden would seem like the ultimate fast-food restaurant," says Frank Howe, an avian expert with the Utah Division of Wildlife. In summer the garden is loaded with a buffet of nectar-filled blossoms that lure a multitude of black-chinned, broadtailed, calliope, and rufous hummingbirds. You don't need binoculars to spot them, but it helps to know their hangouts. Red Butte in July is one of the best places to see them in an urban setting, and its grounds offer pleasant strolling and landscaping ideas even when the birds aren't there.

For hummingbirds migrating from southern wintering grounds, the garden is a stopover along a kind of nectar corridor; for others the garden is a permanent home. The birds prefer trumpetlike flowers in red, yellow, and purple, and all are abundant here. Walk through the Children's Garden and the Fragrance Garden, where the birds zoom in on fuchsia, penstemon, red-hot pokers, and salvia.

Hummers also like water; from the Children's Garden, follow the path 1/4 mile north to the pond in the Perennial Garden. Visit early and you may catch a hummingbird at its morning bath, fluttering its wings in the dew-covered foliage. Then it's off to breakfast in the blossoms. INFO: Red Butte Garden (9-9 Mon-Sat, 9-5 Sun; $5, $3 ages 2-17; 300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City; or 801/581-4747)

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