How to attract Hummingbirds to your yard3/27/2013


Attracting Hummingbirds to your yard.




Last summer, while traveling in Utah, I developed a new fascination for hummingbirds.  Don’t get me wrong, I always admired these unique birds.  What is not to admire?  They weigh just a tenth of an ounce, they can fly forward, backward, right side up or upside down.  I just never saw them in such quantities.  Everywhere I looked I saw hummingbirds.  I even got buzzed by one while hiking.    I soon realized that everywhere I went, hummingbird feeders were visible.  Whether traveling through a national park, stopping for lunch, or visiting family and friends - hummingbird feeders were everywhere.  Hmmm – maybe there is something to this feeder thing.  The beauty of the birds and the joy I felt while watching them, made me make a vow to myself that I will work very hard at attracting more hummingbirds to both my home and the nursery.   Once you have the hummingbirds coming to your yard, it is actually possible to hand feed them.  Check back soon for information on hand feeding Hummingbirds.  




When to put up a feeder? – VERY SOON!




After doing some research I learned what I had been doing wrong in years past.  I used to put my feeder up in the heat of the summer, when there was plenty of nectar from flowers around.   Sure a passerby may have stopped for a drink, but I didn’t have as many sightings as I would have liked.  Since most hummingbirds are migratory, feeders must be put up in time for their arrival.  In our area this is sometime in April.  You will want to get your feeder up 5-10 days before they arrive, so they will see your feeder and take a drink.  Hopefully they will stay the season in your backyard.  My feeders will be going up next week!




Must you put up a feeder? 




No – but your results will be greatly improved if you do.  The hummingbirds prefer natural nectar over what we give them in our feeders.  Providing a feeder now will offer the birds food when there is little natural nectar available.  Once the flowers start blooming, you will probably see less activity at the feeder.  However as the blooms start to diminish, they will head back to the feeders. 




Is one feeder enough?




In our area, the most common hummingbird is the Ruby-throated.  This bird is very territorial and will defend flowers and feeders within their favorite roost.  So if you want to attract more than one hummer, try putting up 2-3 feeders out of sight from each other.




Do I have to buy the Nectar?




Of course not!  The best recipe for making your own nectar is:  1 part sugar, 4 parts water.  Boil for 1 – 2 minutes.  Cool and store in refrigerator.  Never use honey or artificial sweeteners.  Honey ferments easily and can cause sores in a hummers mouth.  Do not use red food coloring in your solution.  This too can be harmful to hummers. 




How do I care for my feeder?




Feeders need to be cleaned and the nectar changed every 3-4 days, more often in hotter weather.  If you see black spots inside your feeder, this is mold and you will need to scrub it out with a good bottle brush.  Do not use harsh detergent to clean your feeder.  Rinse out each time you change your nectar with hot water.  Don’t fill the feeder more than half full, because they won’t be able to drink it all before it will need to be changed.




What should I plant to attract hummingbirds to my garden?




Hummingbirds are attracted to red, which is why red is found on all feeders.  They will however go to plants and flowers that are not red. 




Annuals and Perennials:




Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Lantana, Columbine (Aquilegia), Fuchsias, Impatiens, Coral-Bells (Heuchera), Hollyhocks, Penstemen, Petunia, Nicotania, Geranium,Begonia






Azaleas, Butterfly bush, Flowering Quince, Honeysuckle, Weigela.




Trees and Vines


Tulip poplar, Locust, Honeysuckle, Morning Glory, Trumpet Vine.