Hummingbirds can be easily attracted with nectar from feeders and/or an inviting display of nectar flowers. These amazing birds migrate through our area in early April and can stay through summer well into fall if they find your habitat inviting. Make sure your feeders are up and visible by April 15th in our area.
There are 4 species of hummingbirds in our region, the Ruby Throated Hummingbird being the most prevalent. Females and juveniles do not have the red neck and appear completely green. Other species that may be sighted are Allen’s Hummingbird, Anna’s Hummingbird, and the Rufous Hummingbird.
Nectar is a hummingbird’s primary food source, but it is not the only food they eat. They need protein, and as an added bonus, they also consume insects like fruit flies, mosquitos, gnats, and even spiders. They use spider webs to bind their nests together and make them stretchy to accommodate their growing babies.
Feeding & Nectar
If providing artificial nectar in a feeder, it is important to keep it fresh and change it frequently so that the liquid does not ferment. Hummingbirds will not drink spoiled nectar and will seek other sources. You can purchase nectar mixes, or make your own solution by boiling or microwaving (this helps the sugar dissolve) 4 parts water, then add 1 part white sugar. Never use honey, brown sugar or sugar substitutes. Red dye is unnecessary as well.Make sure the nectar has cooled before you fill your feeder. Nectar can safely stay in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Thoroughly clean the feeder at least once per week, more if necessary-up to every other day in excessive weather temperatures. When you clean the feeder, sanitize with hot water and a weak vinegar or bleach solution, then rinse well. Do not use dish soap, as it can leave a residue and taint the nectar mixture. If you don’t have consistent traffic or weather is very hot, don’t fill feeders all the way. This will keep you from wasting spoiled solution.
Planting to Attract
Many colors attract hummingbirds to the garden, but reds and oranges usually have the best luck. More important than the color is the shape of the bloom. Hummers tend to favor tubular, or trumpet, shaped flowers, which serve to accomodate the long beak and tongue.
To create a desirable habitat for hummingbird feeding, plant a variety of annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs with varied bloom times to extend nectar availability. The following plants are among their favorites, but this is not a complete list of all the plants commonly grown for hummingbirds. Be sure to ask a salesperson for help finding these and other plants for your landscape.
Plants for Hummingbirds
Calamint & Catmint
Heuchera (Coral Bells)
Kniphofia (Hot Poker)
Monarda (Bee Balm)
Perovskia (Russian Sage)
Calibrachoa (Million Bells)
Cuphea (especially ‘Vermillionaire’)
Torenia (Wishbone Flower)
Rose of Sharon
Apple & Crabapple
Japanese Tree Lilac