Hummingbirds are delightful little creatures, not to mention fantastic pollinators. If you’re looking to attract these sweet birds to your garden this year, the following tactics will produce great results.
Planting a garden specifically geared toward hummingbirds will not only attract them to your yard, it will also provide them a natural diet. Offer a variety of flowers that bloom at different times of the season. Continuous blooming, as well as deadheading, will give hummingbirds a reason to visit frequently, especially late in the season when there are fewer flowers and an abundance of recently fledged youngsters.
Certain flowers evolved at the same time as hummingbirds, developing specialized features that don't allow access to other birds. The best flowers for hummingbirds are tubular, scentless, brightly colored, and grow where it's easy for the birds to hover. You can see an extensive list of flowers to attract hummingbirds here.
When choosing a feeder for hummingbirds, look for one that’s durable, easy to fill, and easy to clean. Hang feeders five to ten days before the spring return of hummingbirds in your area. Place feeders high enough to deter predators, but in plain sight near flowers or windows. If your feeder is away from the garden, you can attract attention to it by hanging a basket of flowers nearby.
When temperatures start to rise, keep feeders in the shade to prevent the nectar from spoiling. Wash the feeder with hot soapy water every time you take it down for a refill. If you have any stubborn spots, or mold, you can use a bottle brush to scrub them off. Make sure to thoroughly rinse the soap out before refilling.
Male hummingbirds can be bullies. If you find one is dominating your feeder, place a few more feeders around the garden where he can’t see more than one at a time.
There are a few other ways you can attract hummingbirds to your garden.
Hummingbirds tend to avoid most birdbaths because they’re too deep. However, they delight in flying through the fine mist thrown up from a sprinkler. You purchase a mister specifically for hummingbirds from your local hardware or garden store.
It’s a good idea to provide places for hummingbirds to perch in your yard. Males will perch on almost anything in the open — twigs, clotheslines, overhead wires, etc. Females and immature birds, however, prefer to remain hidden among trees, shrubs, and vines.
If all else fails and you feel like you’re not getting the attention of passing hummingbirds, attach pieces of surveyor’s tape (bright red or orange plastic ribbon) to bushes, trees, deck railings — anywhere near flowers or feeders. The bright colors will attract hummingbirds in for a closer look, and when they get there, they’ll find your flowers and hummingbird feeders.
Whatever methods you use, be sure to avoid the use of pesticides in your yard. Not only do they kill the bugs that hummingbirds depend on for protein, they can also make the hummingbirds sick if they come in direct contact.
I wish you the best of luck! Happy birdwatching!
Liz Greene is a dog loving, history studying, pop culture geek from the beautiful City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch her latest misadventures on her blog, Instant Lo.