How to Attract Hummingbirds

hummingbird-PhilBrown.jpgToday, Hillary of Mass Audubon shares tips for attracting hummingbirds to your yard:

Come late spring and throughout the summer, there's a common scene that replays over and over in our house. We will be sitting at the dinner table, coaxing our 4-year-old to eat her food, and one of us will shout: HUMMINGBIRD! You'd think we saw a dinosaur by our reaction, but no -- just this tiny, remarkable bird that dashes from flower to flower in front of our window before zipping off way too soon. Hummingbirds have to be one of the coolest birds, sure to impress all kids. Here are some fun facts + tips on how to attract hummingbirds to your yard:
Hummingbird Fun Facts

  • Their wings beat about 53 times per second.
  • They can fly upside down and backwards.
  • Their tongues actually split in two to lap up the nectar. (Watch this video to see it in action.)
  • They must consume more than their own weight in insects and nectar every day to stay alive.
  • They hatch from eggs the size of a bean.
  • Plus, identifying is super easy. There's only one species that is commonly found in the Northeast, and that's the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The male has a ruby throat surrounded by emerald green feathers, while the female's neck is just white.
How to Attract Hummingbirds

There are basically two ways to recruit hummingbirds to your backyard, and I would recommend doing both to increase your chances.

Option 1: Put out a hummingbird feeder with nectar

There are scores of hummingbird feeders out there. The Jewel Box Hummingbird Feeder ($28 at the Audubon Shop at Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary), which attaches to your window, is a great one to start with. You can purchase nectar, but it's much cheaper (and more fun) to make it yourself.

To make your own:

  • Combine 4 parts boiling water to 1 part sugar.
  • Let the sugar dissolve and then cool.
  • Fill the feeder and store remaining nectar in the fridge.
  • Clean feeder really well once a week. This chore can be easier if you have two feeders - one in the dishwasher while the other is hanging outside.
  • Note: No need to add red dye -- it's neither beneficial nor harmful.
Option 2: Get some hummingbird-loving plants

Bee Balm (Monarda), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), and Butterfly Bush (Buddlia) are easy to maintain and look great together. Not much of a green thumb? Try Hanging Fuchsia.

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Editor's Note: And if you haven't read it already, be sure to check out Hillary's great post on bird watching for beginners!

Image credit: Phil Brown via Mass Audubon