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They are some of our favorite summer visitors. In some areas, these gorgeous, tiny little birds are year-round inhabitants, but for the rest of us, we watch and wait as the weather begins to warm for that first bright flash. We see a little beauty hovering, right there where he or she knows the feeder should be, and we become giddy with excitement. The time has come- let's make the sugar water and hang the feeders because the hummingbirds are back!
Okay, so maybe you don't all get that excited, but I am not ashamed to admit that I do! I have many flowers that I have specifically chosen and specially placed in certain spots in our yard to make sure that I'm inviting hummingbirds into our little piece of paradise. These little birds make me happy, and if you haven't been lucky enough to have them in your yard, you're missing out. Just look at these two girls. How could you not love them?
But how do you go about attracting hummingbirds to your yard? It's easier than you might think. And once you draw them in, your little feathered friends will return year after year. I always thought they seemed to remember me...
So, without further adieu, let's get to those tips for drawing in hummingbirds!
Color, color, color!
Hummingbirds see color better than humans do, and they can even see colors on the UV spectrum. This means that the birds can, from quite a distance, see flowers in shades of red, orange, pink, or yellow amongst the green foliage. While the nectar quality matters more to these cuties than the color of the flower it comes from, you'll definitely grab their attention by planting brightly colored flowers in your yard.
Much like our bee friends, hummingbirds love native flowers. Anything with tubular blossoms (think honeysuckle) will be a favorite for them. And that makes sense when you look at their long, slender beaks. They can access the nectar with ease. Have you ever sucked the nectar from a honeysuckle blossom? You can see why the birds love them!
If you don't have room for a sprawling honeysuckle vine, there are plenty of other options:
Zinnias- there are hummingbirds at my zinnias from sunup to sundown. They just love them.
Coleus- the blossoms of these plants grow up on tall stalks, and the colorful leaves seem to catch the birds' attention.
Dianthus- these cheery flowers come in all kinds of shades of white, pink, and red. I put some in the garden this year and the hummingbirds really seem to love them.
Bee balm- this beautiful herb draws in hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. It's simple to grow and the flowers look like bursting fireworks. The blossoms are most commonly pink or purple. Bonus points- it has medicinal uses, too!
Hibiscus- another plant with gorgeous, brightly-colored blossoms. Native or tropical, hummingbirds just love this plant.
Images below: top row, from left- bee balm, bee balm, zinnias
Bottom row, from left- zinnias, native hibiscus
As you can see, many flowers that attract hummingbirds will also attract bees and butterflies. It's a win-win!
Don't forget the water!
Like all living things, hummingbirds need water to survive. A traditional birdbath can work, but it may also be a bit much for these little guys and gals. You can add a birdbath fountain * to keep the water moving, and they'll love to fly through the spray. These fountains are solar-powered and really simple to use, but they do have one drawback- they can quickly drain a birdbath. If you don't have a large bath, you'll need to refill it often, especially on breezy days.
I found that not using any of the various sprayers that came with the fountain helped some to contain the water. It becomes more of a bubbling action without the sprayers. You can also use small pebbles to block light from hitting all of the solar panels. This will serve two purposes- it will decrease the height the water will shoot, and it will keep the fountain weighted and in the middle of your birdbath.
You can also purchase a solar-powered birdbath with the fountain built-in. This will help eliminate that issue, but it will cost more, usually $200.00 or more. While an electric birdbath with a fountain will likely cost less, placement becomes an issue because of the need for an electrical source. I have not used either of these options, but it may be something you'd like to consider.
Don't forget the feeders.
Hanging hummingbird feeders in your yard is another great way to attract the feathered beauties. Feeders come in virtually any style, design, and color you could imagine. It is so tempting to pick up those gorgeous, extravagant ones you see in the store. For some those might do great. But for me, they never really seem to be worth the money. The birds simply don't go to them. They choose the cheaper, plainer model every time.
We have been purchasing this * same kind almost every time for years now. It's affordable and easy to clean, and the birds love it. We did buy a fancier one at a local store this year, but only because the basic model was out of stock. I still chose the most basic one they had left. In my experience, the simpler the better in the bird's opinion.
No matter which model you choose, I highly recommend purchasing ant moats * to hang above each feeder. These simple devices hold water and provide a barrier between the feeder and the ants. Since hummingbird feeders are filled with sugar water, ants love them. They can take one over and make a real mess in no time. We added these ant moats to all of ours this year and there haven't been any sugar ants on them yet.
You can purchase pre-made hummingbird nectar, but I really recommend making your own. It's so easy and much more economical. No matter which option you choose, skip the red dye. The birds will come to your feeders without it, and it can be harmful to them. To make basic sugar water, follow these steps:
Mix one part sugar with four parts water (I use one cup of sugar to four cups of water) with a whisk until all the sugar is dissolved.
That is literally it. Told ya it's simple. Some sources say the water needs to be boiling first. Others say that it isn't necessary but can extend the life of the sugar water. I do not boil my water first. I do change the sugar water every few days, and immediately if it becomes cloudy or looks like anything is growing in it. I use water that is just warm enough to dissolve all the sugar. Always make sure it's around room temperature when you hang the feeders back up so as not to hurt the birds.
You should keep your feeders clean at all times. A small brush like you would use to clean straws works great for smaller parts, and a regular bottle brush is great for the glass portion of the feeder. This * is a great set. I like to soak the feeders in vinegar and hot water for cleaning. About a cup of vinegar in a sink of water should do fine. I don't use an exact ratio. Rinse the feeders well and allow them to dry before refilling.
It's no secret that I love watching birds. If you missed my prior post on bird watching, check that out here. I can't say that I have a favorite bird because I love them all, but hummingbirds are among the most entertaining to watch. They are also among the friendliest, coming within inches of your face at times. By following these simple tips, you can have them gracing your yard in no time. Happy birding!
Do you have a fun hummingbird story to share? How about your own tips to add? Let me know in the comments!