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How to attract hummingbirds to your yard

    No backyard feeding station is complete without  feeders for hummingbirds.

    In the wild, hummingbirds have two major sources of food: flower nectar and small insects such as gnats and spiders, which provide protein.  They pick their insects from flowers or grab them out of the air as they dart around looking for nectar.  Hummingbirds are said to consume up to half it's weight in flower nectar every day and readily use nectar feeders.  Since ninety percent of their time is devoted to finding nectar, you really should have one or more of these specially designed feeders in your yard.

Where is the best place to locate a feeder?

    The best spot for a feeder is in or above a flower bed.  Flowers can provide an important nutritional supplement to the feeder solution.  Feeders are best placed in the shade or in occasional dappled sunlight.  (Nectar spoils quickly in full sunlight.)  As hummingbirds are wary of predators, you will have increased activity if adequate shelter is nearby.  Shelter can be a pine tree or dense bush, anywhere the hummingbirds feel safe hiding.

Which type of feeder is best for me?

    There are two basic feeder styles, saucer and vacuum.

Saucer: A saucer feeder is a basin covered with a lid and several feeding ports.  Saucer feeders are less complicated and nearly leak-proof.  With fewer parts, this type of feeder is very durable and easy to clean.  Saucer feeders tend to hold less fluid and in situations where many hummingbirds are feeding can empty quickly.


saucer style feeder

Vacuum: Vacuum style feeders come in a wide range of capacities, materials and designs.  They are very versatile and easily hung from a tree, pole, or under the eaves of the house.  Some vacuum style feeders have very large capacities and can easily feed large populations of hummers with each fill.  A little minor dripping is often noticed by the owner but doesn't seem to bother the birds.  There are special brushes available to facilitate easy cleaning within the ports and "bottle" reservoir.



Ants: Often times ants are attracted to the sweet nectar and actually climb inside the feeding ports.  This problem can be remedied by installing an ant guard.  Two types are available; moat type which requires filling with water or insecticide type which repels the ants through out the season.  Some feeders have built in ant moats ready to go right out of the box.

Bees: Bee guards are made to keep the bees from being able to crawl inside the feeding ports.  In warm summer weather they become a necessity to keep the ports open and available to the feeding hummingbirds.


When should I put up and take down my feeder?

    Put up your feeders by mid-April.  By starting early you will often attract the early migrating birds coming back for winter.  If they find a good food source they may stay and nest with you.  If not, they will surely move on.

    Once you have them feeding it is important to maintain your feeders regularly.  Keep them clean and well filled through out the summer months for the best show.

    Feeders should e maintained into fall when the hummers will migrate at the proper time.  Each year the migration date varies, so leave them up until the birds move on.

    Hummingbirds often depart while the garden still has suitable flowers in bloom.  Their timing is dictated by length of date and perhaps the weather.  However they need to build up their reserves for the long trip south.  Heavy feeding will go on until they are ready to go.  Keeping your feeders full until they are gone is not only fun to watch but good for the birds.


Plants that attract hummingbirds

This is a list of annual and perennial flowering plants proven to attract hummingbirds.  Other flowering plants will attract hummingbirds, but the flowers in this list are favored.

  • American columbine - (Aquilegia hybrids)

  • Rose of sharon - (Hibiscus syriacus)

  • Butterfly bush - (Buddleia davidii)

  • Clematis - (Clematis hybrids)

  • Coral Bells - (Heuchera sanguinea)

  • Daylily - (Hemerocalis hybrids)

  • Foxglove - (Digitalis purpurea)

  • Garden phlox - (Phlox paniculata)

  • Gladiolas - (Gladiolus)                 

  • Honeysuckle - (Lonicera varieties)                Becky Lynn Daylily

  • Hosta - (Hosta varieties)

  • Petunia - (Petunia varieties)

  • Zinnias - (Zinnia elegans)

  • Bottlebrush shrub - (Callistemon varieties)

  • Quince - (Chaenomeles speciosa)

  • Beard tonge - (Penstemon species)

  • Bellflower - (Campanula varieties)

  • Hummingbird flower - (Zauschneria varieties)

  • Azaleas - (Azalea species)

  • Turtle Head - (Chelone species)

  • Summersweet - (Clethra species)

  • Viburnum - (Viburnum species)

  • Impatiens - (Impatiens species)


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