How to Attract and Feed Hummingbirds

Posted on in Wild Bird, Wild Bird Articles

Hummingbird against colorful backgroundHummingbirds are one of the easiest and least messy birds to attract to your yard. The best time to get started is early spring when they are returning from migration and looking for a place to raise young. Give a new feeder plenty of time, (possibly a month or more), to attract these birds being sure to keep the sugar- water solution fresh at all times.

Choose a feeder with some red color on it, (as most hummingbird feeders do). I prefer a flat bottom feeder so it won’t drip, and raised flowers so rain or sprinklers won’t contaminate the solution. Polycarbonate feeders are break resistant and fade resistant. Built in ant traps are a very nice feature. Look for feeders that are easy to fill and clean.

Fill your feeder with a 1:4 solution of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Boil the solution to rid it of potential bacteria, fungus, and molds. Be sure to let it cool before filling the feeder. Please do not use honey or artificial sweeteners in your nectar, as these can be harmful to the hummingbirds. I make a gallon or so at a time and keep it in my refrigerator for quick filling. The solution can be stored for up to a week. There is no need to add red coloring to any solution as most feeders have plenty of red color to do the trick. Be sure to keep the solution in your feeders fresh at all times. During the cooler days this means changing the solution 1x weekly. During the hot summer days you may need to change the solution every 3-4 days. Molds grow easily and can be very hazardous to your birds. You can also purchase natural sucrose powder to mix with water. This powder makes it easy to mix up your solution with no boiling, etc. Sucrose also most closely simulates flower nectar.

Hang the feeder where you can see it readily. To get started, you may want to place the feeder near any flowers you have blooming in your yard. For lack of any flowers, some people have used red ribbons hanging from the feeder with success. Anything red will attract their attention. Hummingbirds are especially attracted to red, tubular flowers, though not limited to these. The male birds are very territorial towards their feeders. It often seems they spend more energy chasing away competitors than eating! This provides much entertainment for us! However, it is best to hang up several feeders throughout your yard to help reduce the competition.

HummZinger Mini 8oz Hummingbird Feeder by Aspects

Making a hummingbird garden will also help attract those flying jewels to your yard. Plant such perennials/annuals as: (there are many others)

  • Columbine
  • Bee Balm
  • Cardinal Flower
  • Sages/Salvias
  • Comfrey
  • Foxglove
  • Red Hot Poker
  • Coral Bells
  • Dianthus
  • Nicotiana
  • Lupine
  • Petunias
  • Impatiens
  • Fuchsias
  • Trumpet Honeysuckle
  • Scarlet Runner Bean
  • Trumpet Vine

Hummingbirds also like to leaf-bathe. Hang up a water mister so that it sprays on leaves of a tree or bush. You’ll find hummers flying and splashing through the mist seeming to be dancing on the leaves on those hot summer days.

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