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What Do Hummingbirds Eat?
If you’re getting started feeding hummingbirds, you’ve probably asked yourself: what do hummingbirds eat? These beautiful birds have a more varied diet than you might think.
What Do Hummingbirds Eat?
Hummingbirds eat flower nectar, insects, and sugar water when provided by humans as a nectar substitute. They occasionally eat tree sap and fruit, but it’s much less common. These birds have to eat very frequently to keep up with their fast metabolisms.
They eat all kinds of flower nectar, but are especially attracted to brightly colored flowers. Bright red, orange, pink, and yellow flowers have the highest sugar content.
Hummingbirds also eat a variety of small insects and spiders, along with their eggs and larvae. These provide them with the protein that they can’t get from nectar.
They can also eat tree sap left behind by woodpeckers, small amounts of pollen from the flowers they get nectar from, and juice from ripe fruit. Hummingbirds eat these much less frequently, though.
We’ll dive into the main three foods below:
Flowers that Attract Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds have a special preference for colorful, tubular flowers. Where the flowers are located doesn’t usually matter – they’re happy to visit gardens, bushes, potted flowers, hanging baskets, and more! Red, pink, and yellow flowers tend to be the most noticed.
While they love many flowers, the best flowers for hummingbirds include petunias, hibiscus, lavender, honeysuckle, hydrangeas, begonias, zinnias, impatiens, morning glories, snapdragons, butterfly bush, gladiolus, dahlias, nasturtiums, salvia, and clematis.
Planting some of these flowers is an easy and cost-effective way to feed and see more hummingbirds. You can save even more time by focusing on native perennial flowers, which often require less care and upkeep. Be careful not to include any flowers that are invasive to your area.
Flowers Hummingbirds Don’t Like
Hummingbirds will eat nectar from nearly any flowering plant, but a few are less enjoyable than others due to low nectar content. Hummingbirds are less likely to enjoy roses, geraniums, sunflowers, marigolds, lilacs, dianthus, and peonies.
Do Hummingbirds Eat Bugs?
Yes, hummingbirds eat mosquitoes, ants, wasps, aphids, flies, beetles, and many other insects and arachnids. Insects actually make up a good portion of a hummingbird’s diet, though it’s more common for us to notice them at flowers. Insects provide protein to keep hummingbirds active and maintain their weight.
While there’s not an easy way to directly feed hummingbirds bugs, you can do your part to help them by not using insect spray around your house and garden and not tearing down spider webs.
Sugar Water for Hummingbirds
The most common way to feed hummingbirds is using sugar water. The 1:4 ratio of white cane sugar to boiling water is the gold standard. It can’t really be screwed up unless you try to use a different kind of sugar or add red dye (don’t do either one). Check out my full guide to feeding hummingbirds using sugar water, including feeder tips and more.
Here are a few other common questions about hummingbird feeding habits.
What Do Baby Hummingbirds Eat?
Baby hummingbirds eat the mother’s regurgitated food, just like most birds. Because it’s a hummingbird, the food offered to the little ones is normally a combination of insects and nectar. The young hummingbird’s diet is heavier in insects than nectar to help them grow quickly.
Do hummingbirds like petunias?
Yes, hummingbirds love petunias.
Do hummingbirds like hibiscus?
Yes, hummingbirds enjoy hibiscus.
How often do hummingbirds eat?
Hummingbirds eat approximately every 10 minutes.
What do hummingbirds eat in winter?
Most of the same things they eat in summer – here’s a full post I wrote about it.
If I put out a feeder, how will the hummingbirds find it?
Hummingbirds are very good at finding flowers and feeders in their environtment – here’s how they do it.
Enjoy Feeding Your Hummingbirds
You should now know all about what hummingbirds eat. Choose the best methods for your needs and watch them arrive in droves!
You may have noticed that hummingbirds don’t seem to get along… here’s additional reading on why hummingbirds fight over feeders.
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