Attracting hummingbirds to your yard is a fun and easy pass time. With just a little work on your part, hummers will arrive in force!
Attracting hummingbirds to your yard is a fun and easy pass time. Before you set off to the store to buy flowers or feeders, take a second to think about what the food you will be providing means to the little birds you are hoping to attract.
Hummingbirds are migratory birds, which mean that each year they travel a long loop from North to South in search of food and a comfortable climate. The time of year they arrive in your backyard will depend on where you live. In the United States, the further North you live the later in the summer you can expect the little birds to arrive. In the spring, when nectar containing flowers are blooming in abundance it is easy for hummingbirds to meet their dietary needs. However, as the heat of summer sets in and there are fewer blooming plants hummers have to travel further and further in their quest for food.
Finding a man made feeder is like finding an oasis in the desert for hungry little hummers! And once they know the feeder is there, they will become very reliant upon it. This reliance on this source means you have to be willing to make a commitment to providing clean fresh nectar in a clean feeder until the hummingbirds leave your area and migrate south. If you do not feel up to making that commitment, then it is best that you provide only natural food in the form of flowers. This article will discuss both natural and artificial means of attracting hummingbirds.
Natural methods of attracting hummers include planting flowers, trees and shrubs that produce flowers that contain nectar. Hummingbirds eat small insects, but they rely primarily on the nectar of flowers to provide them with the high sugar energy necessary to maintain their high metabolisms. In particular, hummingbirds are drawn to red, pink and orange flowers. However, any type of nectar producing flower will do. Some good plants to choose from include: impatiens, honey suckle, salvia, petunias, geraniums, lilies, trumpet vine, and monarda (bee balm). Hummers prefer large clumps of similar flowers, as apposed to scattered plantings. Check with your local plant nursery for varieties of plants that will attract hummingbirds and do will in your climate.
If you choose to put up man made feeders you should know what you are getting into! The nectar in the feeders will need to be changed every 2-3 days at the most to keep the sugar based nectar from fermenting in warm weather. The feeders themselves will need to be rinsed at each nectar change, and cleaned thoroughly at least once a week. It is important that the feeders be cleaned thoroughly and the nectar be kept fresh to prevent mold growth and fermentation, both of which will make hummingbirds ill. Hummingbird nectar can be purchased in several forms at your local grocery or chain discount store: ready to serve, concentrated liquid, or powdered. The ready to serve is the easiest, but generally costs the most. The concentrated liquid is also easy, and requires only the addition of water to make it ready to serve. The powered nectar is slightly more involved that the other two methods because it requires that you make a large amount of nectar at once and store it in the refrigerator. If you don not mind a little extra work, you can make your own hummingbird nectar by combining 4 parts boiling water to 1 part plain white sugar (for example, 4 cups water plus 1 cup sugar). There is no need to add red dye to your homemade hummingbird food, the dye is not good for the birds and the brightly colored hummingbird feeders are attractive enough. Do not add honey you’re your hummingbird nectar mix! It will ferment quickly causing your birds to become ill.
Hummingbird feeder solution
There are many hummingbird feeders available at retail stores. Most are brightly colored, which helps attract the birds. It is best to choose a feeder that comes apart easily for cleaning. Small perches attached to the feeder are also nice because they give the hummers the opportunity to sit and rest while they eat. Cost is not much of a factor when selecting your feeder. Many of the very inexpensive feeders work extremely well.
Once you have your feeder, fill it about ¼ full of nectar and hang it in a nice, open area. In front of a window is ideal so you can sit inside and watch the bird’s antics. It may take as little as a few minutes or as long as a few days for the hummingbirds in your area to find your new feeder. You will still need to maintain the feeder, including changing out the nectar, even if you have not seen any birds at it. If a few days pass and you still have not seen any hummingbirds you can try changing the location of the feeder, or placing a brightly colored flowering potted plant next to it to help draw the birds to it.
Once the hummingbirds find you feeder it may become a source of intense territorial rivalry! Hummers are very territorial little birds, and will fight aggressively to keep other hummers away from a feeder they have claimed. If you notice a lot of fighting amongst the hummers at your feeder, you may want to hang up more feeders. It is best to hang the feeders out of the line of site of each other. For example, hang one in front of your house and one behind. This will provide a greater opportunity for all the hummers to get a bit to eat.
You will need to maintain the feeders and leave them up until the last of the hummers migrate in the fall. Contrary to popular belief, hummingbirds will not be stopped from migrating by full feeders! When you notice that there are no longer birds coming to your feeder, take it down clean it and pack it away until next year.
Enjoy your little break from feeder duty, and then get ready to do it all over again the next spring! Watching the acrobatics and obvious enjoyment of the hummers feeding makes all the work involved in maintaining their feeders worth while!