How to attract hummingbirds to your backyard

7 August, 2015

Many people stop dead in their tracks when they see a hummingbird fluttering in the backyard, and it's no surprise. These teeny, tiny birds are elegant, quiet and whimsical, and spotting one is usually a rare occurrence. It doesn't always have to be the case, though – many folks have hummingbirds flitting through their backyards all season long.They live all over the Western Hemisphere, and their requirements are simple: They just want somewhere they can eat, drink and hang out. The one caveat: They tend to form feeding (and resting) patterns, so it's a good idea to start now – before the warm season has really begun. Here's how to do it: 

Plants 

To attract hummingbirds organically (see what we did there?), opt for nectar-rich flowers. Tubular flowers technically hold the most nectar, but there are many great options: 

  • Honeysuckles
  • Bleeding hearts
  • Petunias
  • Bee balm 

To up the ante even more, opt for flowers in red – hummingbirds find the color attractive. One important thing to note: Planning for a continuous blooming schedule means that these guys will always want to spend time in your backyard. Some flowers come ready to hang, while others take time to grow. Picking a mixture of both is your best bet. 

You can also add in a few vines to help expedite the process. A few examples:

  • Morning glory
  • Coral honeysuckle 
  • Scarlet runner bean 

Fun fact: Hummingbirds have no sense of smell, so they rely on sight to tell how nectar-laden a flower is. 

Feeders

And then comes the more obvious tactic: feeders. They're usually filled with some sort of nectar mix, though you can fill them with your own, as well. Whichever kind of mixture you use, it's best to go all-natural so as not to harm the birds. Here's a helpful recipe:

  1. Mix one part sugar with four parts water
  2. Boil for 60 seconds
  3. Cool the liquid
  4. Voila!

That's it – just make sure you always keep the feeder halfway full so it doesn't mold. Spacing a few feeders out in your yard will help make sure the birds don't fight for food. 

Nests

Hummingbirds aren't keen on birdhouses, but they will build their own nests if you give them the right materials. Think cotton, string and plenty of shelter. The more comfortable they feel in your backyard, the better. 

Ribbons

Strange as it may seem, simply tying red or orange ribbon around the trunks of trees and bushes can be enough to catching a passing bird's eye. 

Insects

Avoiding the use of pesticides will help populate your backyard with insects – another hummingbird favorite. They particularly like spider webs, which they use to make their nests. 

A few additional things you can add to your yard to attract these tiny birds? A fresh source of water (like a fountain or a mister), and something to perch on. Things like clotheslines, plant vines and shrubs all offer them a place to hang out. Some people even plant entire hummingbird gardens that surround their feeders to maximize the effects of all these. So sit back on your outdoor sofa and watch the hummingbirds flock to your backyard! You'll have a spring show to remember.