Spring migration has started and it's just a matter of weeks before hummingbirds are back in our area. If you'd like them to pick your yard for their new home, here are five easy ways attract hummingbirds. Plus, stay tuned until the end of this article for a chance to download a free Bird Watching Journal!
1) Put Out Hummingbird Feeders
Hummingbirds have the highest metabolism of any animal on earth and can eat several times more than their body weight each day. If you can make finding food easier for them, they will stick around.
There are so many wonderful hummingbird feeders available right now. Choose ones with bright colors so the hummingbirds will find them. My favorite feeders for hummingbirds double as oriole feeders so that I can attract both species. I recommend feeders that have bee guards.
Keep your hummingbirds safe, too, by placing feeders high enough that cats and other animals cannot catch them when they go to feed.
Try a hummingbird feeder that attaches to your window, too. This is especially fun if you have children in the house. My sons love to watch them drink the nectar and fly near our windows.
The best recipe for hummingbird nectar is four parts water to one part white sugar. Do not use honey or artificial sweeteners. The honey can ferment quickly, encouraging the growth of deadly bacteria. Artificial sweeteners are bad because they do not provide the calorie content that hummingbirds need to thrive.
Avoid food coloring, too. Many respected birding sites report that the food coloring can sicken the birds. The nectar hummingbirds naturally drink is clear so they are not expecting a colorful liquid. If you use colorful feeders, that will be enough to attract the hummingbirds.
There is no need to boil the sugar and water mix. Simply use water hot enough to dissolve the sugar and then clean the feeders thoroughly before refilling. You should clean your feeders every couple of days, more often if the weather is hot.
Be reliable, too. Keep your feeders filled to encourage them to stay in your yard.
2) Plant a Hummingbird Garden
The right mix of plants will attract hummingbirds to your yard. Besides nectar from flowers, hummingbirds also eat tiny insects that live in the plants.
Here is a small list of a few of the plants that hummingbirds like:
- Morning Glory
Choose plants that flower at a variety of times throughout the year to ensure a constant draw of hummingbirds. Be sure to deadhead your plants to encourage constant blooming, too.
Avoid using pesticides. These kill the tiny insects the hummingbirds eat and could harm the hummingbirds as well.
3) Provide Water
All creatures need water and hummingbirds are no exception. A basic bird bath isn't ideal for a hummingbird, though. They need very shallow water and most bird baths are too deep.
A mister is the best way to provide water to hummingbirds. You can purchase a little mister attachment for your garden hose that will release a light spray of water that the hummingbirds can use for bathing.
Hummingbirds also like drippers. You can add these to your bird bath and they will release slow drips of water that hummingbirds can enjoy. Bird bath fountains are another excellent source of water for hummingbirds.
4) Give Them a Safe Place to Perch
Hummingbirds are very territorial. They spend a great deal of their time perched near their food sources, ready to defend their territory. If you do not have many trees in your yard, consider adding a couple hummingbird perches to your area. There are many attractive designs and ideas for perches available online. You can also make your own using sticks.
I live in the woods where we have plenty of branches that the hummingbirds use for perches. I've learned which places are their favorite and it helps me to spot them when I go out to take photographs of them.
5) Use Bright Colors
Hummingbirds search for food mainly by sight. Fill your yard with brightly colored outdoor furniture and garden accessories to help them find you.
Keep your feeders looking bright and colorful. If your feeders are faded or worn, either repaint with a safe paint option or replace them.
Colorful yard decorations will also catch their eye. Some people go so far as to use red or orange surveyor's tape attached to trees to signal to the hummingbirds.
I hope you can use these tips to attract hummingbirds to your yard this spring. Enjoy filling your feeders and keep your camera ready to capture these colorful visitors.
If you'd like to encourage other birds to live in your yard, check out this article: 5 Easy Ways to Attract Birds to Your Yard.
And don't forget to download your free printable Bird Watching Journal. It features a place to put photos or sketches of your birds, a section to record the date and location of each sighting and room to write notes about the highlights of each bird encounter. Happy birding!