Hummingbird lawn and maintenance. 7 Important Things to Know About Your Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbird Gardening

We’re supposed to love all pollinators equally—but let’s be real, y’all. Hummingbirds are everyone’s favorite. Sure, we might smile and watch as a butterfly floats past, or when a chubby bumblebee cuddles into a coneflower. But a hummingbird sighting? That’s when we gasp and hiss a “look!” to our kids, gesture at them to shut up and watch, and fumble with our phones to take a video. It’s a whole event.

Plants that Attract Hummingbirds

First things first, you’ve gotta invite them in. A lot of the plants that hummingbirds love the most have similar features; they’re fairly tubular, they produce nectar, and they come in vibrant colors, like pink and red. These ones look great in the garden and are proven hummingbird magnets.

Hamelia (Hummingbird Bush) – This bush is a fast-grower that adds great color year-round to your garden. As the name would have you guess, hummingbirds go nuts for their red, tubular flowers. As an added bonus, hamelia also has great fall color payoff. The leaves change from green to reddish-bronze as the summer fades.

Salvia – There are many, many varieties of salvia, and plenty of them are a hit with hummingbirds. Salvias with red or pink flowers are the best varieties to go with if you hope to see more of those flickering wings. Salvia regla is a variety native to Texas that works great, looks gorgeous, and doesn’t need much maintenance.

Trumpet Vine – Trumpet vine, or trumpet creeper, is a magnificent climber with an incredible show of red-orange tubular flowers. It looks great on trellises and arbors, and is a nice way to bring the hummingbirds higher up off the ground for easier viewing. The Madame Galen variety is a really nice one for hummingbird gardens, but the native Campsis radicans is almost too enthusiastic for the average gardener. Avoid this trumpet vine variety as it can quickly become invasive.

Turk’s Cap – A member of the mallow family, these intriguing red flowers are a favorite food source of hummingbirds and can be grown in light shade. Turk’s cap tends to be quite drought resistant and comes in a few color and size variations that are equally beloved by hummingbirds.

Lantana – It’s hard to resist these sensational clumps of multicolored flowers. The different lantana color combinations are each more beautiful than the next, and they all make for a charming container filler. Add lantanas to containers and hanging baskets throughout your yard to really tempt the local hummingbird population.

Butterfly Weed – A type of milkweed, these compact flowering perennials are a favorite of other beautiful pollinators as well. Butterfly weed is also a primary food source for monarch butterflies and caterpillars. Incorporating a little butterfly weed into your garden design will turn it into a VIP pollinator destination!

Shelter Plants for Hummingbirds

Once you’ve attracted hummingbirds to your yard, it’s always nice to offer them a place to stay. After all, all the best festivals have a campground! Add some hummingbird-friendly shelter to your landscape with these hummingbird-friendly trees and shrubs.

  • Pecan Trees
  • Youpon holly
  • Bottle brush
  • Mountain Laurel

Offering Water to Hummingbirds

Like every living thing, hummingbirds also need to drink water to survive. Hummingbirds, like most animals, prefer moving water to still. Try these ways to add moving water to your hummingbird garden.

Install a mister – Hummingbirds have tiny mouths but they move fast. Not only does a fine mist provide a perfect source of water for hummingbirds, it also cools the air and helps your humidity-loving tropical plants thrive.

Create a water feature – Hummingbirds prefer moving water sources that keep the water clean and allow them to sip from the fine offspray. Integrating a waterfall into your garden with a pump and some river rock adds a stunning focal point and a great water source for plenty of bird and wildlife species.

hummingbird, maintenance, important, things, know

Try a solar fountain – For an easy solution on the cheap, you can add a solar-powered fountain to a traditional bird bath. These cool gadgets are powered by a solar strip and pump water through the device, turning a plain basin into a moving water source.

Hummingbird Feeders

If you still can’t get enough of your favorite bird, hummingbird feeders are another easy way to attract them and keep them fed. Hummingbirds will migrate through our area 2 times a year, once in the spring for a quick trip to their summer home, and then for 4-6 weeks in late summer early Fall on their way to their winter home. To attract them in with a feeder and keep the hummingbirds flying in, make sure to:

Clean it often – Hummingbirds are very clean animals and won’t bother with a dirty feeder. They won’t risk getting their pretty lil’ feathers sticky!

Use a red feeder with clear nectar – Red plastic helps attract hummingbirds to the feeder, but the nectar itself should be clear. The artificial red coloring in a lot of commercial nectars isn’t good for the birds.

Beware of ants! – Choose a feeder model that has a moat built into the top to keep ants from crawling into the feeder. Make sure to refill the moat with water daily.

Put feeder out before migration – Scouts will come to the area seeking food before the whole flock joins. If they know you have food for their friends, he will invite them back for a feast. Put feeders out in late January for Spring migration, and in July for Fall migration. Fill feeders ½ full and keep it fresh. Once the flock moves in, fill it up and enjoy!

Everyone loves the rush of catching a flash of iridescent green feathers. Fill your garden with all the right stuff, and soon enough your garden will look and feel like a five-star hummingbird hotel.

Attract more of nature’s flying jewels by hanging and maintaining your hummingbird feeders the right way. Here’s what you need to know.

By Michelle Ullman | Updated Apr 28, 2023 5:03 PM

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If you live in the eastern half of the United States, ruby-throated hummingbirds may be paying you a visit this springtime. For those living in the west, varieties such as black-chinned, Costa’s, Allen’s, rufous, and Anna’s hummingbirds could migrate through your yard. Either way, if you’re lucky enough to live in an area frequented by hummingbirds, you might enjoy encouraging a close-up visit by hanging hummingbird feeders in your garden. These tiny birds need to consume an astonishing amount of daily calories to fuel their incredibly fast metabolisms. In fact, hummingbirds have the highest metabolic rates of any animal on earth.

While hummingbirds do eat tiny insects, sap, and pollen, the majority of their diet is the sugary nectar secreted by flowers that depend on them and other pollinators, like butterflies and bees, for seed propagation. You can attract hummingbirds to your garden by planting their favorite flowers, which include lantana, zinnia, salvia, flowering tobacco, petunia, and foxglove, to name a few. But, for a real show, it’s hard to beat the appeal of a hummingbird feeder hung where you can easily observe it from a nearby window or garden bench.

Here’s what you need to know about hanging and maintaining your feeders to attract the biggest crowd of hummingbirds.

Hang more than one feeder.

Don’t let their tiny size fool you—what hummingbirds lack in stature, they more than make up for in spunk and spirit. It’s not at all uncommon for one hummingbird, usually a male, to claim a feeder as his own and aggressively chase away all other would-be visitors. While it’s entertaining to watch their aerial hijinks, as they swoop and swirl while chattering madly, chances are you’d like to have as many hummers as possible visit your feeder. The solution is simple: Hang at least two feeders (preferably more), spacing them at least 10 feet apart from each other. This way, the dominant bird can still defend his turf, but you’ll be able to enjoy other visiting hummingbirds as well.

Provide a water source nearby.

Although they don’t drink much water, as the nectar they sip provides enough to keep them hydrated, hummingbirds do need water for bathing, just like other birds. The splishing and splashing helps keep their feathers in good condition by washing away any sticky nectar residue that might have dripped while drinking. Bathing also helps remove pests and dust. But unlike many other backyard birds, hummingbirds rarely visit traditional birdbaths. What they do love, however, is mist. To attract more hummers to your yard with a misting water feature, install a very shallow fountain with a solar-powered bubbler, like the AISITIN Solar Bird Bath Fountain, set to the finest spray. (For other top-quality options, see our researched guide to the best solar birdbath fountains.) Position the fountain where it’s fairly close to the feeder and also to a shrub or tree where the hummers can safely perch while their feathers dry.

Ward off ants and bees.

Ants, bees, and wasps unfortunately all enjoy sugar water just as much as hummingbirds. If these pests raid your feeders, you’ll need to take steps to ward them off. One trick for keeping ants away is to hang your feeders with sturdy trimmer line, which is difficult for ants to climb. You can also attach an ant moat, like the Hummers Galore hummingbird feeder insect guard, directly above the feeder. Once filled with water, ants cannot cross the moat to reach the nectar.

If bees and wasps are a problem, you can discourage them by hanging saucer-shaped hummingbird feeders instead of those in the traditional bottle shape. Saucer feeders, like this version from Juegoal, are easy for hummingbirds to use but difficult for insects, so you can enjoy watching your feathered visitors without fear of a sting from an uninvited bee or wasp. Saucer feeders are far less prone to dripping than traditionally shaped vessels.

Thoroughly clean all feeders regularly.

Mold and bacteria grow quickly in the sugary nectar that hummingbirds love, and both can sicken birds who sip spoiled fluid. Therefore, it’s crucial to give your hummingbird feeders a thorough scrubbing at least once per week—more often when it’s hot—to help keep your feathered friends healthy.

Many hummingbird feeders are dishwasher-safe; if that’s the case with yours, wash them in the dishwasher regularly. If not, soak the disassembled feeder in soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and scrub away any mold or grunge with a bottle brush for the body of the feeder. Then, use an old toothbrush or pipe cleaner to scrub the ports and any other hard-to-reach spots. Rinse everything completely, and let all parts dry before reassembling your feeder, filling it with nectar, and hanging it back in your yard.

Change the hummingbird food frequently.

Hummingbird food spoils quickly, particularly when the weather is warm. Because hummingbirds can get sick from drinking spoiled nectar, it’s important to change heir food regularly. At a minimum, replace the nectar twice per week during cool weather and every other day (or even daily) when temperatures are 80 degrees or above. You can also help maintain nectar freshness by positioning your feeders away from direct sun. Don’t put them in too shady a spot, however—that will make feeders harder for passing hummingbirds to spot. Instead, choose a spot with dappled shade or a location that is shaded during the peak heat of the afternoon.

Skip the red food coloring.

Hummingbirds are highly attracted to bright colors, particularly red, orange, pink, and purple. In fact, don’t be surprised to find a curious hummer hovering nearby to inspect you if you venture into the yard wearing a shirt in one of their favorite hues. However, it’s not true that hummers require red coloring in their nectar to find it. In fact, some wildlife experts feel red food coloring is possibly harmful to hummingbirds’ health. As long as the feeder itself is red and hung in a location easily sighted from above, the birds will spot it. So go ahead and fill the feeder with clear commercial hummingbird food, or mix your own. Remember this easy hummingbird food recipe: Mix 1 part white table sugar to 4 parts water.

Keep the feeders up from spring through fall.

In some areas of the west, especially in Southern California, hummingbirds stick around all year long. But in most of the country, hummingbirds only visit during the warmer months before making their way back down to South America for the winter. As a general rule, hang your feeders in mid-March if you live in the south or a mild-winter area and in early-to-mid April if you live in the north or anywhere with very cold winters.

It’s not true that leaving your feeders up will discourage the hummers from migrating in the fall, but there’s no point in keeping up feeders if the birds are gone. As a rough guideline, take down your feeders 2 weeks after you’ve stopped seeing visitors. That’s generally in mid- to late October in the north and early to mid-November for the south.

If you live in Southern California, or another area where hummers remain all year, it’s fine to keep your feeders up year-round.

Hummingbird Nests 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Each spring, hummingbirds return to our gardens, farms, and parks, bringing their sparkle and activity. Birders and non-birders alike are excited to see these birds return. The hummingbird species we see vary depending on location, but these colorful birds brighten up any backyard with their beauty. Their majesty is not without mystery, though — especially when it comes to their nesting habits. Hummingbirds are masters at camouflaging their nests, making them almost impossible to spot, even when you are looking.

To shed some light on how hummingbirds breed, we’ve put together a beginner’s guide. So, if you’ve ever wondered about the size of hummingbird nests, what time of year these tiny birds build these natural structures, and what to look for, read on!

Where do hummingbirds nest?

Hummingbirds can be picky about where they nest. While some species like the Ruby-throated Hummingbird have adapted to urbanization, sometimes even nesting on wires, plant hangers, and other human-made items, most prefer the cover of deciduous trees growing near water. Tree foliage provides shelter for the parents and their chicks, while the water helps to keep the area cool. Hummingbirds also need to live near food sources, including nectar-rich flowering plants — another reason why sites near water are important for hummingbirds in dry regions.

Due to the small size of hummingbird nests, you’re not likely to find one in the crook of a large branch. Instead, hummingbirds tend to set up shop on thinner branches roughly one foot from tree trunks, often at a fork.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird and chicks. Photo by Agnieszka Bacal/Shutterstock

How can you attract hummingbirds to nest?

Unlike some other popular backyard birds, hummingbirds do not nest in birdhouses. However, there are a number of good ways to tempt them to your yard. You can maintain or plant native flowering plants, provide reliable water sources, and avoid chemicals that harm birds and other wildlife, including the insects hummingbirds prey upon. Properly maintained feeders can also supplement hummingbirds’ natural diets and attract them to your property.

How big is a hummingbird nest?

In general, hummingbird nests only measure a little over one inch in diameter! Their size depends on several factors. Different species, of course, build different nests. In general, larger species build larger ones than smaller species do. Construction materials and location can also affect the shape and size of nests.

Hummingbird nest and eggs. Photo by Wellington Nadalini/Shutterstock

What are hummingbird nests made of?

Hummingbirds like their nests to be soft and flexible. To construct them this way, they use a variety of natural materials. Like most birds, hummingbirds start with twigs and other bits of plants, using leaves for a base. However, hummingbirds will also use moss and lichen to camouflage their nests and to make them softer. The secret to a successful hummingbird nest, however, is spider silk. about that directly below.

How do hummingbirds build their nests?

Female hummingbirds spend up to seven days building their flexible, bowl-shaped nests. First, they create a base layer. Then, they incorporate spider silk by rolling it over the unfinished structure. The silk, which holds the nest together and anchors it to a foundation, is inserted into nooks and crevices to ensure attachment. Construction requires several hours each day.

WATCH: Hummingbird arrives with spider silk to reinforce her nest. Video by Freebilly Photography/Shutterstock

What does a hummingbird nest look like?

Because it is adorned with compacted green lichen, moss, and spider silk, a hummingbird nest can appear like a small knot of wood. Its shape and coloring work as camouflage to keep hummingbird eggs and chicks safe.

When do hummingbirds nest?

The time of year that hummingbirds nest and lay eggs varies by location. In the southern U.S., hummingbird breeding begins as soon as March. In contrast, the process may not start until July in cooler, northern or montane regions. Some western species, such as the Anna’s Hummingbird, may start nesting with the first winter rains in November.

Hummingbird chick. Photo by Damsea/Shutterstock

How do you find a hummingbird nest?

Hummingbird nests are extremely hard to spot. As noted above, they are both well-hidden and camouflaged. The best places to look are on thin, forked branches and in dense shrubs. As mentioned above, these nests often look like tree knots. If you spot an oddly placed knot, you might have gotten lucky!

Carefully observing hummingbird behavior is usually key to finding their nests. Watching from a distance, you might be able to spot a female repeatedly visiting the same site during the process of nest construction. During incubation, females leave their nests only for brief periods to forage. If you are lucky enough to spot a female during this phase of breeding, and luckier still to be able to follow her flight path, she may lead you to her nest.

Can I touch a hummingbird nest?

You should not touch hummingbird nests. In the United States, it is illegal to touch, relocate, or remove an active nest. If you discover one, it is best to observe it from a distance. Binoculars will enable you to view the female or young from afar. This will minimize disturbance and avoid inadvertently tipping off a predator, such as a jay, to the location.

Hummingbird chicks. Photo by F Armstrong Photography/Shutterstock

Do hummingbirds leave their nests at night?

Hummingbirds use the night to sleep. In most cases, they will sleep on or by their nests, but not always.

Do hummingbirds reuse their nests?

No. Because hummingbird nests are flexible and expand as chicks grow, they eventually stretch, losing their shape and becoming unsuitable for new use. This means that every new set of eggs requires a new nest!

What can you do to help hummingbirds?

We all can do our part to protect hummingbirds.

American Bird Conservancy and our Joint Venture partners have improved conservation management on 6.4 million acres of U.S. bird habitat — an area larger than the state of Maryland — over the last ten years. This is a monumental undertaking, requiring the support of many, and you can help by making a gift today.

Policies enacted by Congress and federal agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have a huge impact on America’s birds. You can help shape these rules for the better by telling lawmakers to prioritize birds, bird habitat, and bird-friendly measures. To get started, visit ABC’s Action Center.

Finally, don’t overlook the impact you can have in your yard. Creating and improving habitat for hummingbirds can be easy. Check out our Hummingbird Paradise post to learn more. For a complete list of daily activities you can take to help birds, visit our Bird-Friendly Life page.

Anna’s Hummingbird. Photo by Feng Yu/Shutterstock

How does American Bird Conservancy help hummingbirds?

ABC works with conservation partners and local communities to ensure the survival of the world’s most endangered hummingbirds, as well as many other rare, declining bird species and their habitats.

With partners in Latin America and the Caribbean, we have created 93 reserves spanning more than 1 million acres, where 234 hummingbird species find protection.

Habitat restoration is another hallmark of our work with hummingbirds. To date, ABC has planted more than 6 million trees and shrubs to revitalize key habitats, and we’re planning to plant 70,000 more.

ABC also supports field expeditions to search for new, and monitor known, hummingbird populations. These efforts allow us to detect changes in populations and identify new threats or changes in the environment that might affect species and their habitats.

Kathryn Stonich teaches English for the Community College of Baltimore County and Bryant Stratton College online. She is an avid backyard birder and advocate for pigeon and dove rescue.

How to Attract Hummingbirds

Here are our 12 tips on how to attract hummingbirds to your yard. This can easily be accomplished by providing for their basic needs of food and water.

Through many years of experience; here are our full-proof, guaranteed tips to attract hummingbirds:

  • Display as much red as possible; such as red flowers and red feeders.
  • Hang red ribbons on your feeders, bushes and trees.
  • Supply a water source.
  • Plant trees or tall shrubs as perches.
  • Hang a protein/insect feeder as source of protein.
  • Hang more feeders to attract more hummingbirds.
  • Create distance between feeders to establish more territories.
  • Change nectar often.
  • Don’t use red dyes/food coloring in homemade nectar.
  • Keep your feeders clean.
  • Deter ants with an ant moat.
  • Use bee resistant feeders.

Due to their fast metabolism; they have a high demand for nectar. If you supply this vital need of nectar with flowers or feeders you will surely attract hummingbirds.

Whether you are new to attracting hummingbirds for the first time or a seasoned hummingbird lover, our guaranteed tips will attract lots of hummers!

These birds are loyal and once they find a habitat that satisfies their needs, they faithfully return year after year.

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How to Attract Hummingbirds with Feeders?

Hummingbirds do not have a strong sense of smell.

They do however have excellent sight and are attracted to bright colors, especially red feeders filled with nectar. Most feeders today have enough red on them to attract hummingbirds.

They are attracted to red and other bright colors because these same colors represent flowers that supply nectar for their huge appetite.

Feeders, of course, supply a food source for hummingbirds which is a primary necessity for survival. In much the same way as flowers.

If your feeders are hung in an open area they will be easily detected/seen.

To initially attract hummingbirds for the first time, you can also hang red ribbons on your feeders which will help with their detection.

Take note. Hummingbirds are territorial and are not likely to share their feeders. So, hang more feeders far enough apart to present more territories and to attract more birds.

NOTE: You can make your own nectar with a simple nectar recipe of sugar and water.

For convenience, many people simply purchase commercial nectar. But. beware, never use commercial nectar that contains artificial red dye. This can be harmful even fatal to our friends.

New and Innovative Feeder!

Hummingbirds use the nectar for their energy needs because of their fast metabolism. Their prime food supplements necessary for survival are actually protein, vitamins and minerals. Insects supply these vital needs.

A great new protein feeder has come along recently called the Humm-Bug Insect Feeder; a brilliant idea which holds banana peels to attract insects which feed on the peels.

If the feeder is displayed near nectar feeders, hummingbirds will also have have insects along with nectar available!

What Flowers Attract Hummingbirds?

Plants make flowers, flowers make nectar, nectar is food, food is survival for hummingbirds.

Therefore, brightly colored, high nectar producing flowers of plants will definitely coax a hummer to your garden.

Planting brightly colored flowers that attract hummingbirds or hanging flower baskets with plants will lure these jewel like birds in search of nectar.

If you would like to know how to attract hummingbirds with hummingbird flowers, there is a large variety to choose from.Red, orange, and pink flowers with a high nectar reserve are preferred.

See our hummingbird flowers page for wide variety of different flowers, trees, shrubs and annuals.

Another bonus. feeding hummingbirds for your personal enjoyment also helps the eco-system.

These birds are pollinators and play an important roll in the life cycle of flowering plants.

Do Hummingbirds Use Perches?

Hummingbirds do not walk or hop but do perch about 80% of their life. They perch all night long to sleep.

During the day they will use a perch to oversee and guard a flower garden, feeder or any other source of food.

After feeding, a perch supplies a comfortable spot to digest their food which usually takes about 20 minutes.

A perch also supplies a spot for maintenance, that is preening, which is removing built up debris in their feathers.

They will fluff their feathers to loosen any dirt or debris and then remove it with their bill. This helps to keep them light and airy for flying.

Trees and shrubs are good for perching along with the not so obvious, clothes lines, fences or anything similar.

It’s fun to follow their flight and catch a glimpse of these miniature birds perching on a tiny leaf stem or branch.

Maybe a photo opportunity?

Importance of cleaning your Hummingbird feeder weekly

Will Supplying Water Bring Hummingbirds?

Water is necessary for hummingbirds just like any other living creature.

Some believe that nectar is source for water but this is not the case, they need a separate source of pure water.

Hummingbirds can drink and bath in flight.

Watch your backyard come alive with hummingbirds as they fly through the sunlit mist of a garden hose mister or a solar powered misting birdbath.

Now that you know how to attract hummingbirds by supplying feeders, plants, perches and water; you now know how simple this venture can be!

Our Experience with Attracting Hummingbirds!

Who knows what really prompted our passion for learning how to attract hummingbirds and care for them?

Hummingbird Feeders and Maintenance

After a long, cold winter in the northeastern United States, it was Spring!

We hung a feeder on the plant basket hanger outside our kitchen window, and followed the instructions on the package recommending a stronger ratio of nectar for first time use.

We waited but it took awhile for our first visitor to arrive.

The Rest is History!

After our first visitors arrived, we thought, If we hang more feeders, we might attract more hummingbirds! We added 3 more feeders and sure enough we had more hummers visiting these additional feeders.

Now we hang 12 feeders around our house outside of almost every window on the first floor. So we currently attract hummingbirds to all feeders and enjoy the sight of our little friends at a feeder in every room.

We planted a perennial garden with the sole purpose to attract hummingbirds. We added a water fountain in the garden to quench their thirst and planted a few small trees around the edges of the garden for perches.

Over the past 30 years this tiny bird has captured our hearts. as we expect it to capture yours!