For many, springtime means the return of the hummingbirds, while some are lucky enough to have them around all year long. Attracting hummingbirds to your yard might be easier than you think. But what attracts hummingbirds?
This article lists our top 10 ways to attract hummingbirds to your yard.
Table of Contents
- 10 Ways To Attract Hummingbirds
- 1. Grow These Plants To Attract Hummingbirds
- 2. Hang Up A Feeder or 3
- 3. Mix Up Some Nectar
- 4. Provide Water
- 5. Encourage Bugs
- 6. Provide Perches
- 7. Encourage Nesting
- 8. Attract Them With Color
- 9. Involve Your Neighbors
- 10. Know Your Hummingbirds
10 Ways To Attract Hummingbirds
1. Grow These Plants To Attract Hummingbirds
One of the best ways to attract hummingbirds to your yard is to provide them with a healthy natural food source. Here’s a list of 5 plants that attract hummingbirds to their nectar-rich flowers.
There are many more species to choose from but try to plant a selection that produces tubular red flowers. Plants that bloom in every season will help to maintain a steady supply of hummingbird attracting nectar.
Red cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
The perennial red cardinal flower usually grows to a height of around 3ft and flowers towards the end of spring. Plant this native beauty in partial shade to full sun and keep it moist.
Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera semperivens)
Trumpet honeysuckle is a native climber that does best when allowed to grow on a trellis or a fence line. These plants will flower in mid-spring if planted in a bright and sunny location.
Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium)
Fireweed flowers from late summer to early fall and reaches a height of around 9ft. These plants can spread quite quickly so consider planting yours in a pot or container.
Hummingbird trumpet (Epilobium canum)
Another great hummingbird plant is the aptly named, hummingbird trumpet. This plant, which is also known as the California fuchsia, only grows to around 1.5ft tall and produces beautiful scarlet blooms.
Columbia lily (Lilium columbianum)
The Columbia lily is a striking North American native perennial that reaches a height of 4ft and produces stunning orange speckled flowers.
2. Hang Up A Feeder or 3
If you’re wondering how to attract a hummingbird to your feeder, don’t worry, commercially designed feeders are already designed to attract these speedy little creatures. The spot you choose to set them up is important, however, so let’s go through a few pointers on where to hang your hummingbird feeder.
Where To Put Your Feeders
- Hang your feeders in a quiet place away from too much noise and disturbance. Hummingbirds can be timid at times and will shy away from larger birds at seed feeders. Be sure to put the feeders in an area where cats can’t ambush the hummers it attracts.
- Hanging up a few feeders in various places around the yard will definitely increase the birds’ chance of finding them. Don’t be shy about setting out a few feeders to increase the number of birds you can feed.
- You can hang your feeders from a branch or from a specially designed bird feeder pole. Setting up your feeders in an open and shady spot will keep the birds cool and prevent the nectar from spoiling too quickly.
- Some hummingbirds, like the rufous hummingbird, can be really aggressive and territorial at food sources, so it’s best to set up the feeders outside of line-of-sight with each other to prevent competition.
3. Mix Up Some Nectar
Now that you’ve found the perfect locations to set up your feeders, it’s time to put some nectar in them. You can buy hummingbird food ready-made or make up your own. Here’s a simple recipe for making your own sweet hummingbird nectar:
- 1 part refined white sugar
- 4 parts boiled water
Surprised? It’s just that simple folks. One important thing to know is that it’s the color of the flower or feeder that attracts the bird. The nectar itself can be clear and it’s not a good idea to add any sort of dye to the mixture.
This mixture will spoil after a few days so remember to clean and change out your feeders every second day or so to prevent them from growing any mold or bacteria. You can keep any extra nectar in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
4. Provide Water
Hummingbirds love water, but not for drinking, as you would think. Hummingbirds get all the hydration they need from nectar. They do need to bathe regularly to get the sticky nectar off their flight feathers and stay clean.
The challenge that these little flying machines face is that while extraordinarily agile on the wing, they aren’t very good at moving around on two feet and so a traditional birdbath just isn’t suitable for them.
One good way to provide hummingbirds with safe places to bathe is to set up a garden mister that waters your plants while providing a fine mist for the birds to fly through and enjoy. If you can position the mister near a large-leaved plant for the birds to perch and bathe on, even better!
Another great option is a birdbath fountain. Solar-powered options are available, making these quite an easy DIY option.
5. Encourage Bugs
Encourage what now? Yes, you read correctly, hummingbirds love bugs! Bugs are an important part of the hummingbird’s diet. That’s because nectar, while high in energy, contains very little protein.
Hummingbirds supplement their diets with insects and also use spider webs to build their nests. So think twice before using any sort of pesticide in the yard, and rather consider planting some insect-pollinated plants as well.
6. Provide Perches
This may seem too obvious to be useful but hummingbirds need somewhere to sit when they’re not zooming around and feeding. Good perches give the birds a place to rest or hunt insects from, where they can sit comfortably and feel secure.
Ideal perches are naturally open twigs extending from plants in the garden that are high off the ground and give the birds good visibility to look out for predators. Perches in the sun and shade give the birds options depending on the weather.
The best perches are those that you can easily observe, we don’t only want to attract the hummers, we want to see them too!
7. Encourage Nesting
Hummingbirds generally nest between 10 and 90 feet of the ground and build their nest in the forks of branches and on downward sloping branches.
Hummingbird nests are built of soft plant fibers, lichens, and spider web. Having these three materials available to the birds is a great start towards encouraging them to nest in your yard.
8. Attract Them With Color
The most attractive colors for hummingbirds are red and orange. Choose plants that bloom in these shades and wait for the birds to arrive.
Interestingly, it’s not only flowers that attract these little birds and you can quite easily catch their eyes with strips of bright red cloth or rope tied around a branch or somewhere else in the yard. This may sound like a bit of a cruel trick so make sure there is something around the yard for them to snack on.
9. Involve Your Neighbors
If you’re lucky enough to have neighbors and a community who appreciate nature as much as you do, encourage them to provide good habitat and food sources for your feathered friends as well. Don’t see the other yards as competition though, the bigger the hummingbird-friendly zone the better!
10. Know Your Hummingbirds
Finally, our top 10 ways to attract hummingbirds list would not be complete without introducing the birds themselves!
Depending on where you live, hummingbirds may not always be around. If you’re wondering why hummingbirds aren’t visiting your feeder or your yard, it may be because there aren’t any around for miles.
Let’s meet the stars of the show and find out when they are most likely to be seen. If you live in the United States, the four most likely hummingbirds to visit your yard are the:
- The ruby-throated hummingbird is a migratory bird that calls the eastern half of North America home. Unless you live in Florida, these birds probably won’t be around in the coldest months. They will return north on their migration like clockwork when the days grow longer.
- The black-chinned hummingbird is another migratory species, but these busy little birds are found in the western states, where they visit in the warmer months after overwintering in Mexico.
- The rufous hummingbird is the smallest, but most aggressive, of the four. These little stunners travel serious distances and may turn up anywhere between Alaska in the summer and Mexico in the winter.
- Anna’s hummingbird is a beautiful species that can be seen all year round along the west coast from British Columbia to northern Mexico.
So there you have it, folks. Follow these 10 hummingbird attracting steps and enjoy the wonder and joy these tiny acrobats of nature will bring to your yard. Happy birdwatching!