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How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard
Along with robins, swallows, and finches, we welcome another bird back to the northeast this time of year: the ruby-throated hummingbird! Hummingbirds appear in our area around the first week of May, and it’s easy to time their arrival in your area.
If you want to start feeding hummingbirds, there’s no time like the present to make your yard or garden hummingbird-friendly! You’ll learn how below, along with a few tips for how to attract hummingbirds so they’ll become regular visitors in your yard.
How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard
Want to start bringing in hummingbirds? Here are a few easy things you can do to attract hummingbirds to your home!
Planting a variety of flowers and other hummingbird-friendly plants is a great way to bring hummingbirds to your yard and garden with just a bit of a time investment up front.
Hummingbirds love most colorful flowers, but they love red tubular flowers, like cardinal flowers, best of all. If you can create a hummingbird garden full of the birds’ favorites (especially if you time them so that different flowers bloom from early spring through fall) you’ll have a natural nectar source for hummingbirds all year long.
Once there’s a low chance of frost in your area, plant plenty of brightly colored flowers around your home and yard. Flowers naturally attract hummingbirds and other beautiful pollinators like butterflies.
Impatiens and other container flowers can be placed around your porch and deck to bring the hummingbirds closer to your windows. Many flowers don’t need much upkeep aside from being watered during dry weather.
Consider planting lots of perennial native plants, like bee balm, in your flower beds and around your house to attract many hummingbirds. Having lots of nectar-rich flowers is one of the easiest ways to bring hummingbirds to your yard.
Here are the top plants that attract hummingbirds.
Feeding Hummingbirds Directly
For a more hands-on experience, you can purchase a hummingbird feeder. These nectar feeders are filled with sugar water and hung out where hummingbirds can easily fly to them. The birds use their long tongues to drink from tiny holes in the bottom of the feeder.
Hummingbird feeders come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Since they love red flowers so much, it’s best to get a red feeder if possible, but any feeder with bright colors should work. (Learn how hummingbirds find feeders).
If your hummingbird feeder isn’t red, or if you’re having trouble attracting hummingbirds to it, try hanging red ribbons nearby. They’ll make it easy for hummingbirds to find the feeder.
We use this feeder. It holds about two cups of sugar water, which they usually go through in a week or less. They come in droves for it every summer!
Where to Hang Hummingbird Feeders
Once you have one, you may wonder where to hang your hummingbird feeder. Place hummingbird feeders near bushes or shrubs. The shade keeps their food from spoiling quickly, and the nearby branches offer the hummingbirds spots to perch and rest their busy wings. A little bit of light won’t hurt though – early morning or late afternoon sun shining off the feeder can help them find it.
How to Make Hummingbird Food
As for what to feed them, a 1:4 mixture of 1 part sugar (just plain, granulated white sugar) and 4 parts hot water (1/4 cup of sugar per 1 cup water, for example) is ideal. Let the sugar solution cool to room temperature before pouring it into the feeder so it won’t burn their little tongues.
While they like red, there’s no need to use red dye or any other additives. Your brightly colored hummingbird feeder will attract them well enough, and anything else may actually hurt them since it isn’t natural to their diet.
You can purchase a hummingbird nectar solution, but it’s much better for the birds and for your wallet if you just make it yourself.
Keep Up with Demand
Once the hummingbirds find your feeder, you may have a hard time keeping up with their thirst. Check on it daily, and replace the sugar water when it gets cloudy.
To refill, dump out the old water and clean the feeder thoroughly with fresh water and a bird-safe cleaning agent. My favorite solution to clean feeders is white vinegar with warm water, but you can use the others mentioned as well. Be careful handling the feeder – hummingbirds can carry lots of diseases.
Once it’s washed, you can refill it with fresh sugar water and put it back out. Don’t worry; even if your feeder is inside for a couple of hours, the hummingbirds will generally flock back as soon it’s put outside.
Keep Out Unwanted Visitors
Unfortunately, putting out a bird feeder of any kind can bring uninvited guests. If it’s a regular feeder, you’re apt to get those stupid bears. If it’s a hummingbird feeder, you’ll get… yellow jackets, ants, and earwigs. Yuck!
These small insects crawl down inside the holes made for hummingbird snouts and will either drink up all the sugar water themselves or drown and spoil the water. Either way, it’s a real pain.
To keep pests out, get a hummingbird feeder with bee guards and add an ant moat, which offers great entertainment if you hate ants. If you’re still struggling with bugs in the sugar-water feeder, read up on how to keep ants and bees out of hummingbird feeders.
Space Out Flowers and Feeders
Have you ever seen two hummingbirds going at it? Despite being small and adorable, hummingbirds are absolutely vicious with each other. Sometimes two or three will be clustered around a hummingbird feeder and fighting, and another will come along, get a drink, and fly away without the others noticing. (Find out why hummingbirds fight.)
To keep these territorial birds from battling on your porch, place additional flowers and feeders on opposite sides of your house, where they’re less likely to see each other.
Plant Bushes and Small Trees
This goes hand-in-hand with the other suggestions, but make sure there are some dense bushes or small trees where hummingbirds can rest and hide near their feeding area. They like to stake out a spot and keep watch for other hungry hummingbirds, which isn’t ideal for peacekeeping, but still lets you see lots of hummingbird action!
FAQs About Attracting Hummingbirds
What is the secret to attracting hummingbirds?
The secret to attracting hummingbirds is to provide them with a safe area with many food sources, including flowers, sugar-water feeders, and more. It helps if at least a few of the items are red or otherwise brightly colored.
What are hummingbirds most attracted to?
Red flowers in a tubular shape are considered the most attractive to hummingbirds, but other brightly-colored, nectar-rich flowers and sugar water feeders are also exciting for the birds.
What is the best color to attract hummingbirds?
Red is widely considered to be a hummingbird’s favorite color and the one most likely to draw hummingbirds in, but they also like bright yellows and pinks.
Is it easy to attract hummingbirds?
Yes! Just hanging a hummingbird feeder or planting a few nectar-rich flowers is enough to draw them in, and the more you plant or set out, the more hummingbirds will come!
Enjoy Feeding Hummingbirds!
You should now have a good idea of how to start feeding hummingbirds with nectar-producing plants and sugar-water solutions, along with how to attract hummingbirds with colors and habitats!
It’s a lot of fun to watch these little birds buzz around during the summer. Once they get used to you, you can sit outside near them without them flying away. We keep a feeder near our porch swing so we can watch while we relax outside, and during the course of the summer they gradually adjust to our presence.
Once the summer is over, their fall migration will begin. You’ll need to prepare for winter and take down your feeders. Here’s when to stop feeding hummingbirds.