Even if you’re not the biggest fan of birds (there are a couple sports teams that we could probably mention), these little speedsters are fun to watch. Hummingbirds also make great gardening allies since they love eating irritating pests like gnats and aphids. Of course, a garden’s location is the chief factor in determining what species come calling. But if bringing these sugar-powered creatures to a yard near you sounds appealing, read on for some tips on how to attract hummingbirds.
The Hummingbird Feeder
These simple devices are probably the most obvious method of attracting hummingbirds. Most sources say that gardeners should fill up their feeders with a 1:4 mix of white sugar and water. Other sweeteners contain substances that could be harmful to the birds and even mixtures containing things like plain honey quickly grow unappetizing amounts of mold in warmer climates.
Most ready made mixes sold with the feeders contain red dye. Gardeners who want to use food coloring can certainly do so. But it’s not a necessary component. Although some experts have speculated that dying their food might be bad for the hummingbirds, no one has done any studies on the subject. Until there is definite evidence, let your conscience be your guide. Just be sure to change out the mix every week or so to keep it from becoming stale and unappetizing.
Because hummingbirds have to eat a ton of nectar to avoid starving to death, gardeners may be surprised at how fierce these tiny birds can be when it comes to a feeder they’ve claimed. This can be avoided by either putting several different feeders in various spots around your yard or by putting many feeders in the same spot. We unknowingly went for the first option since our neighbor also has a hummingbird feeder in her yard.
Another bonus to using a feeder is that it keeps the birds happy even if nothing is blooming in the yard when they drop by. Gardeners don’t even need to worry about removing the feeder in the fall. After all, hummingbirds can tell by the amount of daylight exactly when they are supposed to fly south for the winter.
How to Attract Hummingbirds with Flower Power
Tubular red flowers with a high nectar content make hummingbirds happy. Yet these high-flying animals don’t really care what color a plant is as long as it is rich in nectar. Salvias, sages, monarda (bee balm), columbines, hibiscuses, and honeysuckles are all really good plants to add to any yard where hummingbirds are welcome. Good lists of other flowers they like can be found here, here, and here. Gardeners should ideally plant species that are native to their area because these specimens are said to produce the most food for hungry guests. As an added bonus, most of the flowers that hummingbirds like are also attractive to butterflies, so gardeners will end up attracting two great visitors for the price of one!
Other Excellent Ideas to Attract Hummingbirds
If you can bring yourself to avoid pesticides and leave dangling spider webs in place, the hummingbirds are going to be grateful. These crafty individuals often get a drop on the arachnids by stealing their prepackaged snacks. But they are not likely to hang around a long time if you’ve killed all the bugs in the yard and there are no nibbles for them to enjoy. On the same subject, like most of us, hummingbirds would rather not be snacked upon themselves. So help Sassy and Mittens avoid temptation by keeping them out of the yard.
A bird bath comes in handy for other species but one that produces a spray of fine mist is especially appealing for these little guys. They also enjoy having a place to rest in between flights. Obviously zooming about at rapid speeds can burns up a lot of calories, so hummingbirds spend most of their days just hanging out on convenient tree branches. Providing a place for them to perch near their feeder is another sure-fire way to encourage them to hang around.
As a last resort, tying brightly colored red or yellow ribbons around the trees in your yard might charm passing hummingbirds into stopping by for a visit. But you might find yourself explaining that one to the homeowner’s committee. Have any favorite tips on how to attract hummingbirds? If so, please share them via the comments below!