Tips and Tricks for Attracting Hummingbirds

The nectar-feeding season is just around the corner! At this point in time, humming birds bid their winter territories goodbye to revisit their breeding grounds. Create a sanctuary in your backyard!

Hummingbird in flight

Lure hummingbirds into your garden with the following tips:

1. Feed them. Provide enticing food for humming birds in three ways: through feeders, plants and insects.

  • Feeders – Clean, fill and hang feeders about two weeks prior to expected arrival (southern/coastal areas: March or earlier; Northern U.S: Mid-April to Mid-May). There are various feeders available in the market today such as saucer dishes, gel packs and inverted tubes. They come with ant, wasp or hornet guards and are often in red or orange color.
  • Just so you know, humming birds can see these colors. In fact you can hang red or orange ribbons to help them find your feeders more easily. Fill the feeders with commercial nectar concentrate or with a homemade hummingbird nectar recipe. In warm weather, make sure to change nectar every three days. Use vinegar water and rinse well with every nectar change.
  • Plants – Hummingbirds love flowers with plenty of nectar! Turn your yard into a perfect hummingbird habitat by planting hummingbird magnets. Put red flowers at the top of your list such as bleeding hearts, Columbia lily, red fireweed, desert trumpet, cardinal flower, trumpet vine, petunias, salvias, impatiens, larkspur, bee balm, cannas, coral bells, honeysuckles, columbine, and butterfly bush. These flowers are also shaped for hummingbirds’ long bills. Add red gazing balls to nectar-rich, non-red flowers to attract these flying jewels.
  • Insects – Hummingbirds feed on insects, including spiders. Avoid using insecticides or pesticides that will exterminate this food source. In addition, these chemicals can also harm hummingbirds.

2.Supply Clean Water. Hummingbirds are attracted to water, especially moving water sources like drippers, fountains, waterfalls and sprinklers. Water keeps them clean and fresh so you will often see them perching in a spray or flying through moving water to bathe. Setting up misters is a bright idea because hummingbirds love to take “leaf baths”. It’s refreshing for them to rub their feathers against wet leaves or simply sit on a branch enjoying the mist. To attract dozens of hummingbirds, position water sources near nectar-rich blooms.

3.Provide Shelter. Of course, hummingbirds need to take a rest. They love to preen on perches, including thin vines, trellises, wires, shrubbery and clotheslines. Aggressive hummingbirds scout out for perches that allow them to protect their territories. If you want to make use of perching plants and shrubs, it’s best to position them near food sources.

4.Make Good Nesting Spots Available. Hummingbirds are different from most backyard birds because they do not use nesting boxes; rather they build their cup-shaped nests in shrubs and trees. Some birds also build their nests along wires or poles. Attract dozens of beautiful hummingbirds by providing safe areas for nesting. You may also supply nesting materials like animal fur, fine lint and short strings.

Additional Tips for Hummingbird Gardens:

  • Some hummingbirds prefer stems closer to the ground while others want taller stems. With this in mind, provide layered vegetation by planting different height of plants.
  • Tantalize them with rich-colored, sweet flowers. Remove faded or wilted blooms throughout the season. There are two reasons why. First, hummingbirds recognize spent blooms very well and will avoid plants with many wilted blooms because they know these flowers are empty. Second, deadheading encourage more blooms.

What to Do with Aggressive Hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds, particularly males, are territorial. Instinctively, they will defend their food source which may turn your feeder into a battle ground. This is not a bad thing because this behavior is an imperative survival trait. Change the environment around them instead. Hang several feeders in your yard or garden so an aggressive bird won’t monopolize a single feeder. Space the feeders at least 30 feet apart.