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Hummingbirds are fascinating and beautiful creatures that can bring a lot of joy and wonder to any garden. If you’re looking to add some natural beauty and entertainment to your outdoor space, attracting hummingbirds is a great place to start. Not only are these tiny birds a joy to watch but they play an important role in pollination and the local ecosystem.
This beginner’s guide has all you need to know on how you can attract hummingbirds to your garden and do your part to support local ecosystems.
Hummingbirds are small, colorful birds that are found primarily in the Americas, ranging from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, and they come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. There are over 300 different species of hummingbirds, with the smallest species weighing just a few grams and measuring only a few centimeters in length. These birds have a high metabolism and require a diet that is rich in nectar, which they obtain from flowers and other sources of nectar.
Hummingbirds are also notable for their unique flying abilities. They can hover in mid-air by flapping their wings up to 80 times per second, and they can fly forwards, backward, and even upside down. Their wings are also capable of rotating at the shoulder joint, allowing them to perform intricate maneuvers in tight spaces.
These birds generally fly at low to mid-level heights, typically between 10 and 50 feet above the ground. This allows them to stay close to the nectar sources they need for sustenance and to avoid predators.
During migration, hummingbirds can fly at much higher altitudes, sometimes as high as 20,000 feet above sea level. This allows them to fly over mountains and other barriers on their long journey.
It’s also worth noting that different species of hummingbirds have different flight patterns and preferences for altitude. Some species are more likely to fly higher or lower than others, depending on their individual habits and needs.
In addition to their unique physical characteristics, hummingbirds also play an important role in the ecosystem as pollinators. As they sip nectar from flowers, they transfer pollen from plant to plant, helping to ensure the continuation of many plant species.
Attracting hummingbirds to your garden can be a fun and rewarding hobby. There are many different types of hummingbird feeders and flowers that you can choose from, and experimenting with different designs and nectar formulas can be a fun way to learn more about these amazing creatures.
What Does the Hummingbird Symbolize
The hummingbird is often seen as a symbol of joy, love, and beauty. This small bird is known for its agility and ability to hover in one place, which can represent adaptability and perseverance. In many cultures, the hummingbird is also associated with healing, as well as bringing good luck and positive energy.
Some Native American tribes see the hummingbird as a messenger between the worlds, while in other traditions, it is believed to have magical powers or be a symbol of resurrection and transformation.
How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden (Balcony or Patio)
Knowing what the hummingbird needs will help plan and design a hummingbird friendly garden. Here are some key factors to consider when designing your garden to attract hummingbirds.
|Plant Nectar-Rich and Native Flowers Where Possible||Hummingbirds are attracted to brightly colored, nectar-rich flowers like salvia, bee balm, petunias, and fuchsia. Planting these types of flowers in your garden can help to attract hummingbirds and provide them with a natural food source. Don’t forget to plant native plants to promote native birds visiting your garden.|
|Use Hummingbird Feeders||Hummingbird feeders are a great way to provide hummingbirds with a supplemental food source. Fill the feeder with a nectar solution made from four parts water and one-part white granulated sugar and hang it in a visible location in your garden. Don’t use artificial sweeteners or red food coloring as these will be harmful.|
|Provide Perches||Hummingbirds need a place to rest and survey their surroundings, so providing perches like small twigs or thin branches can help to attract them to your garden. Use trees and shrubs to provide secluded spaces.|
|Provide Water||Hummingbirds need water to drink and bathe in, so providing a shallow birdbath or misting station can help to attract them to your garden.|
|Reduce Pesticide Use||Pesticides can be harmful to hummingbirds, so reducing your use of chemical pesticides in your garden can help to create a safer environment for them.|
|Provide Nesting Materials||Hummingbirds build small, cup-shaped nests out of materials like moss, lichen, and spider silk. Providing these materials in your garden can help to attract nesting pairs of hummingbirds.|
|Create Height Variation||Hummingbirds like to feed and perch at different heights, so creating height variation in your garden by planting flowers and shrubs of different heights can help to attract them.|
|Provide Shade||Hummingbirds need shade to rest and cool off on hot days, so providing shady areas in your garden can help to attract them.|
|Provide A Variety of Flower Shapes||Hummingbirds have long, thin beaks that are adapted for sipping nectar from tubular flowers. Planting a variety of flower shapes, including tubular flowers and flowers with shallow cups, can help to attract different species of hummingbirds.|
|Ensure Your Glass Windows are Notable||If hummingbirds smack into your window, they can get really hurt. So, help these birds know where your window glass is by applying window clings, putting stickers or decals on.|
|Mind the House Pets||If you have cats or dogs, keep them away from your outdoors spaces that are designed to attract hummingbirds. This is easier said than done but is necessary as hummingbirds can easily be made into tasty little snacks.|
|Display as Much Red Other Bright Colors||Hummingbirds are attracted to bright colors, particularly red. It’s said that displaying red-colored objects or flowers in your garden can attract hummingbirds. Plants like the cardinal flower, bee balm, and trumpet vine are ideal red flowers you can use. Also use red-colored hummingbird feeders filled with nectar to attract them. It’s important to note that while hummingbirds are attracted to red, they are also attracted to other bright colors such as orange, pink, and purple, so incorporating a variety of colors in your garden can help attract them as well.|
Remember that attracting hummingbirds to your garden takes time and patience. Keep your feeders and flowers well-maintained and be persistent in your efforts to create a welcoming environment for these beautiful birds.
How to Feed Hummingbirds by Hand
Maybe you want to attract a hummingbird to your hand. How rewarding and memorable would that be! Although it takes patience and some careful steps to ensure the safety and well-being of the bird, it is very possible with the following steps which would be more effective when there is competition for feeding late in the season:
- Make sure you have a hummingbird-friendly garden with the right plants and feeders are set up so that hummingbirds visit your garden. Avoid multiply feeders (temporarily) and brightly colored flowers in the surrounds to ensure feeding in concentrated to the one feeder which you will hold later.
- Choose a feeder with a single feeding port which you can place your hand or finger later.
- Do some observations and take note of their feeding times and patterns.
- Once you have observed them, be present during feeding times so they get to know you.
- Move a step closer each day. Be still and calm so you don’t frighten the birds. They will soon learn to trust you.
- Be consistent in how you sit, what you wear, how you move and what time you are present.
- Wait patiently, without moving or making any sudden movements, until a hummingbird approaches your hand.
- Hold the feeder steadily allowing them to feed. Avoid sudden movements.
- You can place a finger in front of the feeding ports to encourage them to perch on your finger. You can also use a small container on your palm to encourage hummingbirds to feed on it. In this way, you can even try to feed them from your palm.
- Be prepared to wait for a while, as it may take some time for the hummingbird to gain the confidence to approach your hand.
- Once the hummingbird approaches your hand, remain still and calm to avoid startling it.
- Do not attempt to touch or grab the hummingbird, as this can be dangerous for the bird and may cause it to fly away.
Remember, attracting a hummingbird to your hand is not an easy task and may take several attempts before you are successful. Always prioritize the safety and well-being of the bird, and do not attempt to touch or handle the bird in any way.
How to Attract Hummingbirds to Feeders
Providing feeders is a great way to attract hummingbirds, but you might be thinking what exactly you should do to attract them to your feeders. Let’s have a look at some steps.
Choose a Bright-Colored Feeder
You know now that hummingbirds are attracted to bright colors and especially red. Choose a feeder that has bright colors to attract their attention.
Hang The Feeder in The Right Location
Hummingbirds prefer feeders that are in a location that is easy for them to access, and where they can feel safe. Place the feeder in a shaded area, away from direct sunlight and strong winds, but where it’s still visible to the birds.
Keep The Feeder Clean
Hummingbirds are attracted to clean feeders that are free from mold and mildew. Clean your feeder regularly with hot, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly.
Use Fresh Nectar
Hummingbirds prefer fresh nectar, so change the nectar in your feeder every 2-3 days, or more frequently during hot weather.
Avoid Using Pesticides
Hummingbirds are attracted to flowers and insects, so using pesticides or insecticides around your feeder may deter them.
Plant Hummingbird-Friendly Flowers
Planting hummingbird-friendly flowers near your feeder can help attract hummingbirds to your yard.
How to Attract Hummingbirds to Nest
Hummingbirds are selective about their nesting sites, and it may take several seasons for them to select your yard as a nesting site. Be patient and consistent in providing a suitable habitat and nesting material. Take note of the following steps that will help you achieve this:
Provide A Suitable Habitat
Hummingbirds prefer to nest in an area that provides them with protection and shelter from the elements. Provide them with a sheltered area that has good visibility and is located near a source of nectar.
Offer Nesting Material
Hummingbirds use a variety of materials to build their nests, including spider webs, moss, and lichens. You can offer nesting material, such as cotton, string, or pet hair, near your feeder or nesting area.
Plant Hummingbird-Friendly Plants
Planting hummingbird-friendly plants can provide a source of nectar and attract hummingbirds to your yard.
Provide A Water Source
Hummingbirds require a source of fresh water for drinking and bathing. You can provide them with a shallow bird bath or misting station near their nesting area.
Remember, once hummingbirds have selected your yard as a nesting site, it is important to minimize disturbances and maintain a safe and healthy environment for the birds. Avoid using pesticides or insecticides near their nesting area and keep pets away from the area to prevent disturbances.
Pros and Cons of Attracting Hummingbirds
Attracting hummingbirds whether to your garden or balcony will have its pros and cons. Let’s have a look at some of these so you are well prepared on what to expect.
The Pros of Attracting Hummingbirds
|Pollination||Hummingbirds are important pollinators and can help to ensure the continuation of many plant species in your garden. This way you support the local eco system.|
|Natural Beauty||Hummingbirds are beautiful and fascinating creatures that can add a sense of wonder and awe to your garden.|
|Low-Maintenance||Hummingbirds are relatively low-maintenance visitors to your garden, as they primarily feed on nectar and insects.|
|Entertainment||Watching hummingbirds dart and hover around your garden can be a fun and entertaining pastime.|
The Cons of Attracting Hummingbirds
|Feeder maintenance||If you use hummingbird feeders in your garden, they require regular cleaning and refilling to ensure that the nectar stays fresh and clean.|
|Predators||Hummingbirds can be preyed upon by larger birds, cats, and other predators, so it’s important to be mindful of potential risks to their safety.|
|Aggression||Male hummingbirds can be aggressive towards other males and even towards other bird species that enter their territory, so it’s important to monitor their behavior and ensure that they are not causing harm to other birds or animals in your garden.|
|Nectar theft||Bees, wasps, and other insects may also be attracted to your hummingbird feeders and can sometimes steal nectar from the birds.|
Don’t let the cons listed above stop you from going ahead with your plan to attract hummingbirds to your garden. This is because the benefits of having hummingbirds visit your garden generally outweigh the potential drawbacks. With proper care and attention, you can create a safe and welcoming environment for these beautiful creatures while also enjoying the many benefits they bring.
Best Time to Feed Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds migrate to different locations depending on the season, so the best time to feed them can vary depending on where you are located. You can start feeding hummingbirds in the early spring, when they return from their winter migration, and continue feeding them throughout the summer and early fall, until they migrate south for the winter.
Once they frequent your garden, remember that hummingbirds are usually active during daylight hours, and they tend to feed frequently throughout the day. It’s good to feed hummingbirds in the morning, just after sunrise, or in the evening, just before sunset, when they are most active and need the most energy.
However, you can also offer food to hummingbirds throughout the day, as they have a very high metabolism and need to consume food frequently to maintain their energy levels.
The exact timing of when to start and stop feeding hummingbirds can vary depending on your location and the specific species of hummingbirds in your area.
It’s important to keep your hummingbird feeders clean and filled with fresh nectar to ensure that the birds have access to a reliable source of food.
Make a note that if you choose to feed hummingbirds, you should commit to maintaining the feeder and providing fresh nectar regularly, as the birds become reliant on the food source and may have trouble finding other sources of food if you suddenly stop feeding them.
Do Hummingbirds Make Good Pets?
Hummingbirds don’t make good pets. In fact, it’s illegal to keep hummingbirds as pets in most countries, including the United States.
Hummingbirds are wild animals and are best left in their natural habitats where they can live and thrive. They have very specific dietary needs and require a large amount of space to fly and maintain their health. Additionally, hummingbirds are very delicate creatures and can easily be injured or harmed if not cared for properly.
Trying to keep hummingbirds as pets is not only unethical, but it can also lead to serious legal consequences. It’s important to appreciate hummingbirds from a distance and to do what we can to protect and preserve their natural habitats.
FAQs about Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden
The best food to attract hummingbirds is nectar made from a solution of four parts water to one part white granulated sugar.
The best place to put a hummingbird feeder is in a shady spot with some protection from wind and rain.
The best place to put a hummingbird house is in a quiet, secluded area of your garden, away from foot traffic and other disturbances.
Hummingbirds do not use traditional birdhouses, so there is no “best house” for them.
Hummingbirds are most attracted to red and orange colors.
Yes, hummingbirds are beneficial to have around as they are important pollinators and can help to ensure the continuation of many plant species.
Hummingbirds are attracted to red and other bright colors such as pink, orange and purple.
Hummingbirds are most active during the early morning and late afternoon.
Catching a hummingbird can be harmful to the bird. Enjoy watching them from a distance and provide a safe and welcoming environment for them in your garden.
Hummingbirds have delicate wings and touching them can cause damage to the bird.
When considering their unique features, there’s no doubt that hummingbirds are truly amazing. This small bird is a powerful symbol of vitality and renewal and is often seen as a reminder to appreciate the beauty and wonder of life. Whether you’re interested in attracting them to your garden or simply observing them in the wild, this beginner’s guide covers all the key factors you need to know.
Why not plan your garden to attract hummingbirds? These birds are sure to capture your imagination and leave you with a new appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.