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Attract Hummingbirds

The hummingbird is one of the world's most fascinating living creatures to watch. But don't blink or you might miss it. One way to get a good look is to attract hummingbirds to your yard.

Attract Hummingbirds

Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard

Hummingbirds are fascinating to watch. For such tiny birds, they possess the largest brain, fastest wing beat and the heartiest of appetites. Each year they're known to migrate thousands of miles. In order to gear up for their extensive travels, they need an abundance of nectar.

Your backyard is a great place to find it. Not only can you hang a sugar water feeder, but you can also plant flowers to attract them. The natural nectar from flowers is the healthiest form they can receive, but the feeders are a nice supplement.

Planting to Attract Hummingbirds

These tiny birds' high metabolism requires them to feed continuously, consuming about 50% of their body weight per day. A complete diet includes insects as well as nectar, another good reason for plantings. Here are a few ways to attract hummingbirds with plants.

  1. Sketch it Out
    Draw a diagram of your yard and house. Consult the list of flowers and shrubs that you can use to attract hummingbirds. Try planting near windows or your patio door so you can view them at feeding time.
  2. Check Your Dates
    Find out migration dates in your region. This will tell you when you need to hang your feeders and to choose plants that will bloom when your hummingbirds are around.
  3. Think Vertically
    Add a trellis and plant trumpet honeysuckle. You can also layer other plants (see list below) in small pots down the side.
  4. Go Bright
    Hummgingbirds really like tubular flowers that come in bright colors such as red, pink and orange.
  5. Watering Hole
    You can have a bird bath, but make sure it's shallow water. They're also attracted to small pump-fed waterfalls or garden misters.
  6. A Little at a Time
    Plant flowers that bloom at different times so that they'll have a nectar source throughout the season.
  7. Say No to Pesticides
    They're unhealthy to your hungry hummingbirds. Let other birds be your natural insect control.
  8. Use Soft Linings
    A hummingbird's nest is lined with soft plant fibers. Plant fuzzy flowers like cinnamon fern, thistle, dandelion and pussy willow to attact them to your yard.
  9. Go Native
    What are hummingbirds attracted to in your particular area? Find out and plant them.
  10. Don't Forget to Prune
    In order to encourage the growth of more flowers, prune the tips of flowering plant
Caution

Don't worry about leaving your feeder out too long and disrupting a hummingbird's migration schedule. Migration is not triggered by hte availability of food. They'll take flight as the days get shorter.

Plants for Your Hummingbird Garden

Choose plants that bloom at different times to supply nectar all season. Bloom times vary by planting zone. As an added advantage, many of the plants listed attract butterflies too.

Annuals

  • Fuschia
  • Impatiens
  • Petunia
  • Red Salvia
  • Snapdragon
  • Begonia
  • Zinnia
  • Geranium


Trees

  • Red Buckeye
  • Mimosa

Perennials

  • Monarda
  • Canna
  • Columbine
  • Hosta
  • Lupine
  • Yucca
  • Foxglove
  • Daylilies


Vines

  • Trumpet Vine
  • Honeysuckle
  • Clematis

Shrubs

  • Azalea
  • Quince
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Lantana
  • Lilac

Using Hummingbird Feeders

Hummingbird Feeders

Garden plants can provide both insects and nectar, but to really get the maximum birdwatching experience, most hummingbird watchers like to hang feeders.

  • Get a feeder that's easy to clean and hang. Place it in a semi-open, shady area. A small feeder is ideal since you don't want hummingbird food to sit long enough to go bad.
  • Because of the birds' belligerent nature, if you find several visiting, spread out your plants and feeders to avoid creating a war zone.
  • Specially formulated hummingbird food is commercially available or you can make your own.
Good to Know

Hummingbirds need time to find your new feeder. It could take hours or even weeks so be patient. However, once they've found it they're likely to return again and again.

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

Step 1

Combine 4 parts hot water to 1 part white granulated sugar. Don't use honey. It will spoil quickly in the heat outdoors.

Step 2

Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved.

Step 3

Let the mixture cool completely before putting in the feeder.

Step 4

Keep the extra in the refrigerator.

Caution

Red food coloring isn't recommended. It's not good for them. A little red color on the feeder itself is enough to attract hummingbirds.

Caring for Your Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbirds are susceptible to bacteria. Clean the feeder every three to four days when the weather is hot. Try using a vinegar / water solution (about 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water) rather than soap.

Insects (mostly bees and ants) can become pests at the feeder. Feeders and feeder accessories are available to reduce or eliminate insect pests. Hummingbirds are pesticide sensitive, so don't use chemicals near the feeder.