Hummingbirds are very entertaining birds and their size and constant activity makes them a favorite in the garden. There are a few ways to attract hummingbirds to your yard during their nesting season.
They love nectar and they are attracted to the color red. Planting red flowers which produce lots of nectar will catch their eye as they fly over. You can make your own sugar water and place it in a hummingbird feeder and if you do this every year they will soon know where to find it. Water sprayers and bubblers will also attract them as they like the sound of moving water.
If you put out nesting materials this can encourage them to nest in your yard. They like native trees and if they don’t have to go in search of the material, they’ll happily make a nest in your garden.
How to attract hummingbirds to your yard, 5 great tips!
If you live in the south of the country you may be lucky enough to see hummingbirds all year round. In central and northern parts of the country the opportunity to see these birds is only during their nesting season.
1. Research and prepare
Migration can take place anytime between late March through to July, with the northern parts of the country seeing the hummers later than everywhere else. If they have visited your garden in previous years, there’s an excellent chance they’ll come back if you keep your garden hummingbird friendly.
Before you start to prepare anything for hummingbirds, you first of all need to know when to expect them. Depending on where you live, you need to check to find out which species of hummingbird is the most common in your area, and when is the best time to start preparing for them.
As a rough guide, here is when you can expect hummers in your area:
- All year round: Hummers can live all year in the very southern states, including South Texas and South Florida, as well as in the Caribbean.
- Mid February: States in the South and Northern Florida can expect their first hummingbirds at arrive anytime from mid February.
- Mid March: By mid March hummers are reaching central parts of the country.
- End of April: Hummingbirds start to reach northern states in late April and Early May
- Mid May: The last migrating birds reach Alaska and Canada from Mid May.
When you know when you can expect them to arrive, start to prepare your garden so it is ready for them about two weeks before their expected arrival. This way you may be able to catch the early migrators. As they fly over they will be attracted by what they see on the ground, and if they see a well prepared garden with everything they need, there is a good chance they will head there to check it out.
Hummingbirds have amazingly good memories, so if they have nested in your garden before, they are likely to come back. However, if your garden isn’t prepared, they are more likely to move to another garden.
2. Provide nectar
Hummingbirds love nectar and it’s also an essential part of their diet. They eat several times an hour so a good supply of nectar in your garden is vital to attract them and keep them there. There are two ways you can provide this: flowers and a hummingbird feeder.
A hummingbird feeder is designed particularly for hummers. There is a space for sugar water, and feeding ports which are usually shaped like flowers. They can be dismantled and cleaned so you can keep your hummingbirds well supplied with nectar during their visit.
Sugar water can be bought but making your own is quick and easy and it means you can replenish the feeder throughout the hummingbirds visit. All you need it 1 part sugar to 3 parts water. Cane or beet sugar are best. Boil the water then stir in all the sugar and leave to cool. Then you can store it in the fridge to keep your hummingbirds supplied with it as they need it.
You must keep the feeder clean or the nectar will get moldy. This will put hummingbirds off from using it and they may go elsewhere to feed.
If you plant the right flowers, these are another excellent way of attracting these birds to your yard. They like flowers which provide lots of nectar and they pick up bright colors such as red and orange. Tubular flowers are best as they allow the hummers to get their beak inside to suck up the nectar.
Some hummingbird favorites are columbines, bee balms, lilies, foxgloves, impatiens and petunias. If you are unsure which ones to plant, your local garden store will be able to advise you on the best nectar producers. They may even be able to tell you which plants attract hummingbirds the best.
When you plant your garden, make sure you leave plenty of space between the plants. This gives the hummers room to hover as they investigate the garden and enjoy the nectar. If the plants are too close and the hummingbirds can’t hover, they may not stay in your yard.
Mix the flowers with herbs and shrubs and fruit bushes are another good source of sugar as well. Don’t choose flowers for their strong scent as hummingbirds have a very poor sense of smell. They will be attracted to the shape and color of the flowers and they know which ones will provide them with the nectar they need.
Here’s a great video from gardening expert Frank Ferragine on how to attract hummingbirds to your yard, enjoy!
Like all birds, hummingbirds enjoy water and they are attracted by moving water. They get all they need to drink from nectar but they do need to keep clean and look after their feathers.
- Sprays and misters around the garden are a good source of water. The noise and motion of the water will attract the birds and if you aim these towards leaves or stones the hummers can sit in the spray and wash.
- Garden fountains are another good way to attract them. The moving water encourages them to come in to investigate and they can use the shallow water on the edges to wash. If you have a fountain, make sure it has flat areas so the hummers feel safe.
- Bird baths can be used, but do not add too much water. Hummingbirds only need a little water to wash. If you add a bubbler this will help to attract them.
Hummingbirds love bright colors, particularly the color red. They can often pick this out as they are flying overhead so adding a splash of red to your yard will have them flying down to find out more. They’ve even been known to investigate labels on garden items and red chairs.
There are many ways you can add red to your yard to attract them to come and investigate.
- If you have a feeder, add something red to it. Some people add red dye or red coloring to the water but this can be harmful to the birds. Instead tie red ribbons around it.
- Plant red flowers and shrubs around the garden. Red fruits are also a good source of sugar.
- Tie red ribbons to branches on trees, on shrubs or on the fence or gate post.
5. Nesting material
When you have encouraged the hummers to come down and investigate your garden, you need to make sure they stay and build their nest.
Providing a good source of nesting materials means they don’t have to hunt around for it and they are likely to use it to build their nest close by.
When they build their nest they will use moss and lichen so if you leave this where they can see it, they will use it. You can plant dandelions and thistles as they will use the down from these as well. Small feathers and leaf fuzz are used inside the nest to cushion it.
If you see a spiders web, leave it alone. Hummingbirds use spider silk to bind the nest together. They like to build their nests in trees which are native to the area, so when you plant your garden, use as many native plants as you can.
If you have done everything right, you should start to see hummingbirds in your yard. When you do, try to leave them to settle in. If you constantly disturb them they may fly away. If you place your feeder close to a window, allow them to get used to using it and then you can begin to move to the window to watch them, and get the full enjoyment of having them in your yard.