Feeding Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are the world’s tiniest bird and are known for their ability to hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings, from 15 to 80 times per second (depending on the species). Their aerodynamic construction allows them to maintain sustained hovering. They have the ability to fly not only forwards, but also backwards and vertically, which allows it to maintain its position while drinking from flower blossoms. (They are named for the characteristic hum made by their wings.)

Birder love to watch hummingbirds feed as they magically hover in mid air and sip nectar.  Typically, they consume more than their own body weight in food each day, and to do that they have to visit hundreds of flowers.  There are many flowers and trees from which they obtain nectar, but they will also take nectar from human made feeders.  This gives humans a great chance to see them in action and take pleasure in watching them fly.

To attract hummingbirds, all you need to do is acquire a feeder that’s specially  designed for feeding hummingbirds.


 

Attracting Hummingbirds

Picture of Red Blossom Hummingbird FeederThere are many types of hummingbird feeders on the market and almost all of them will have some red color to them. This is because hummingbirds are attracted to the color red.  Even if you have already acquired a hummingbird feeder and it doesn't have very much, or any red color to it, you can simply tie a red colored ribbon around it and this will do the job.

Keep in mind that hummingbirds love to get nectar from various flowers, shrubs, vines and trees.  So, if you place your feeder in or near your garden flowers, this will increase your chances of attracting hummingbirds to your feeder, even if your flowers don't happen to be in bloom at the time. You can even hang a basket of flowers near your feeder.

Most Hummingbirds are migratory birds and visit North America in the warm months. Depending on what part of the country you live in, they will arrive at different times.  In the deep South, they will arrive as early as January.  In the far North, they will arrive about May.  You'll want to put up your feeder a week before you expect them in your area.  If  they see your feeder right away and take a drink, you might have a hummer for the entire season.


 

Attractive Plants

If you're wonder what plants will attract hummingbirds,  here's a list:

Shrubs

  • Flowering Quince
  • Azaleas
  • Honeysuckle
  • Weigela
  • Butterfly Bush

Flowers

  • Columbine
  • Begonias
  • Holly Hocks
  • Fuchsias
  • Coral Bells
  • Lantana
  • Impatiens
  • Penstemen
  • Petunias
  • Geraniums
  • Flowering Tobacco
  • Azaleas
  • Flowering Quince
  • Hollyhocks
  • Weigela
  • The Butterfly Bush
  • Cardinal Flower

Flowering Trees:

  • Morning Glory
  • Trumpet Creeper
  • Trumpet Honeysuckle
  • Tulip Poplars
  • Honeysuckle Vines
  • Flowering Crab Tree.
  • Locust
  • Eucalyptus

They Are Territorial Birds

In case you aren't aware, hummingbirds are very territorial and will aggressively protect nectar sources. They will defend flowers and feeders within their favorite area.   If you observe that you are only attracting one hummingbird and you want to attract more than one, you'll want to put up several feeders, out of sight from each other at various locations in your yard.  Maybe on another side of your house so they won't see their rivals.

Should you place the feeders near each other the hummingbirds may fight each other; sometimes to the death, just to protect their favorite flowering plants and feeder.

 

Feeder Care

  • Your hummingbird feeder should be cleaned every 3 or 4 days and more often in hot weather.
  • If you see black spots inside your feeder, this is mold.  Scrub it out with a good bottle brush.
  • Don't use harsh detergent to clean your feeder.  Rinse it out with hot water each time you change the nectar.  If you do this on a regular schedule, mold should not be a problem.

 

Hummingbird Food Mix

This mixture has been found to be a favorite for feeding hummingbirds.

Use 1 part sugar, 4 parts water, and boil together for 1 to 2 minutes so you will kill bacteria and slow down spoilage. Cool the mixture and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to begin feeding them.

Don't use honey.  Honey ferments easily and is prone to culture a bacterium that is dangerous to hummingbirds.

Don't use artificial sweeteners.  Artificial sweeteners have no food value, although the hummingbirds will drink it, they will be starved of the calories they need to sustain their metabolism ..

Don't use red food coloring in your mix.  There is no scientific data on the effects of dye on the birds, but we know it's not good for humans, so why give it to the hummers.


Once you’ve started feeding hummingbirds you’ll be amazed at how many will come to your garden and just how colorful and vibrant your garden will become.



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