“How do you attract hummingbirds?”
Many years ago, my dad and I visited someone’s house whose entire backyard was dedicated to attracting hummingbirds. It was unbelievable! There were dozens of hummingbirds flying in every direction visiting nectar feeders and beautiful flowers scattered across their yard.
Now that I have a house and yard of my own, I have spent the last few years trying to transform my backyard into a hummingbird garden and paradise.
The biggest lesson that I have learned?
Attracting hummingbirds is a bit more complicated than I initially thought!
Today, I’m sharing 25 tips and techniques to help YOU attract hummingbirds.
- Tip #16 is my favorite and probably something you have not thought of before.
And make sure to make it to the end and watch the video at the bottom. Have you ever seen that many hummingbirds before?
#1. Hang up a hummingbird feeder
Putting up a bird feeder designed explicitly for hummingbirds is one of the best ways to attract them.
Since hummers don’t eat birdseed, they are not going to visit your normal bird feeders. Instead, you will need to buy a feeder that holds nectar (sugar water), which is a primary food source for hummingbirds. To fuel their active lifestyle, hummingbirds need to feed on it almost continuously throughout the day.
Supplying a fresh and reliable nectar source will be sought after by hummingbirds.
- The 8 Best Hummingbird Feeders (That Actually Work) – Read this article for a list of my favorite nectar feeders!
Seriously, check out what Carole, a hummingbird enthusiast, has accomplished. *The video below is a LIVE STREAM of the nectar feeders in her backyard.*
As long as it’s daylight, you are almost guaranteed to see hummingbirds drinking nectar from her feeders. (Learn more about this incredible feeding station HERE.)
But before you throw up your new nectar feeder, make sure you keep reading. There are many more tips you need to know to maximize the number of hummingbirds you can attract!
#2. You MUST choose your feeder’s location wisely
You don’t want to put your hummingbird feeder just anywhere in your yard! It’s best to be strategic with its placement, which will help attract more birds.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you look around for the best places to hang your feeders:
- Look for areas near flowers that hummingbirds are already visiting.
- Place it close to shelter or perching areas, such as trees or shrubs. Try not to put it in the middle of your barren yard, as the hummers won’t feel protected.
- Think about yourself! Make sure you can see the feeders easily from inside your home so you can watch the show.
- Keep the feeder out of the sun. The shade will help slow the fermentation process of the sugar, which will help the nectar last longer. The video below shows that my hummingbird feeders almost NEVER have the sun shining on them.
#3. Hummingbirds are attracted to RED
Hummingbirds are naturally attracted to the color red, which is why most nectar feeders you see have a red base or top. Make sure that yours does too.
To initially attract hummingbirds, some people will put red streamers, ribbon, or tape hung around their yard. This helps to get the birds to investigate and hopefully find the feeder filled with delicious sugar water.
But DON’T put red dye in the nectar.
The effects of consuming red dye are unclear and studies have shown potential health consequences for hummingbirds. And putting red dye in nectar is unnecessary to attract hummingbirds. Just make sure that the nectar feeder you purchase has a red top or base.
#4. Use THIS nectar recipe to mimic a flower
Making a nectar solution that is irresistible and healthy for hummingbirds is easy! Just do this:
1 part refined table sugar, 4 parts warm water
Mix together until the sugar has dissolved
Seriously, it’s that easy. Regular table sugar is just sucrose, and when mixed with water, it closely resembles the natural nectar sources that hummingbirds find in flowers.
You can also buy pre-made hummingbird nectar:
Personally, I just make my own nectar. I think it’s a needless expense since making sugar water with the recipe above is so easy. You also never know what other fillers or extra ingredients are added to the store-bought stuff!
#5. Don’t put honey or other sweeteners in nectar
Adding these ingredients is not necessary and actually can be harmful to hummingbirds.
Seriously, just stick to the nectar recipe in Tip #4 above – 1 part refined table sugar with 4 parts warm water.
It’s really that easy! Don’t try and get fancy.
#6. Replace the nectar BEFORE it spoils
Do you like old, moldy, stale food?
Well, neither do hummingbirds. If you use nectar feeders to attract hummingbirds, then you must take responsibility for replacing the sugar water BEFORE it starts to ferment and go bad.
The shelf life of your nectar will depend on different factors, most importantly the weather. For example, you may need to change the liquid every few days when it’s extremely hot and humid. On the other hand, it may last up to a week or longer if it’s cooler and in the shade.
If you see your nectar is cloudy, moldy, or has floating insects, you have already waited too long, and it’s time to change it!
Extend the life of your nectar by adding Nectar Defender.
Nectar Defender from Sapphire Labs is an all-natural product that has been shown to prolong the freshness of homemade nectar. They claim that adding it “Keeps nectar fresh for weeks instead of days.”
#7. Clean your feeders regularly
You just learned that you need to change the sugar water often in your feeder. But when you do this, you also need to scrub and clean your feeders to wash away any mold or impurities.
If you don’t eliminate as many bacteria as possible, then it’s going to lead to the fresh sugar water spoiling quicker. And nothing turns hummingbirds away like rotten nectar!
How often should hummingbird feeders be cleaned?
This is a difficult question to answer. Let me first start by saying that you can’t clean your feeders too often, so it will never hurt to conduct a washing.
The two factors that influence how long your nectar will last before starting to ferment are SHADE and TEMPERATURE.
- Try to keep them in the shade, or at least as much out of the sun as possible. If the nectar is allowed to bake all day in the sunshine, you will need to replace the sugar water more often.
- The hotter and humid your local weather happens to be after setting out your feeders, the quicker your nectar will spoil. During hot weather, change it every two days. In milder weather, once a week is fine.
#8. Buy a feeder that is EASY to clean
To minimize frustration, buying a nectar feeder that is easy to clean is super important. If you are more inclined to clean your feeder, then the nectar will stay fresher, and more hummingbirds will visit!
Look for feeders that are easy to take apart and do not have any hard-to-reach places. Any part that touches nectar needs to be cleaned thoroughly, or you risk bacteria and fungus growth.
Bottle vs. dish nectar feeder? Learn more here.
I use this 16oz bottle hummingbird feeder in my backyard, and it works great! The opening to the nectar reservoir is large enough to fit a scrub brush inside.
#9. Don’t let your feeders run out of nectar!
Hummingbirds are creatures of habit. Once they find a reliable nectar source, they will visit until it is exhausted.
This puts some pressure on us if we want to attract AND keep hummingbirds around.
DO NOT let your feeders run dry, or you will force the hummingbirds you worked so hard to attract to move on and find a new food source.
#10. Stop BEES by doing this…
Hummingbirds are not the only creature that will be attracted to your nectar feeders.
Hornets, bees, and wasps also LOVE getting a sugary snack. Unfortunately, without any precaution, these aggressive insects can take over, and your hummingbird feeder will turn into a “yellow jacket” feeder.
Here are two simple things you can do to help keep bees away:
- Hummingbird feeders with a dish design work best to prevent bees. The nectar sits below the port openings and is too far down for bees to reach, but hummingbirds have no problem getting a drink.
- Make sure your hummingbird feeder DOES NOT LEAK. As the sugar water evaporates, a sweet residue will be left behind that will instantly attract hornets, wasps, and bees.
LEARN MORE HERE-> 7 Ways to Keep Bees Off Your Hummingbird Feeders!
#11. Prevent ants with a moat
Ants are another insect that can become a problem when they overwhelm hummingbird feeders. Just like bees, they are attracted to the sweet sugar inside! I mean, can you blame them? 🙂
Utilizing an ant moat is probably the most popular (and one of the easiest) ways to stop ants!
So what exactly is an ant moat?
An ant moat is simply a water barrier that prevents these insects from reaching your nectar. They work similarly to medieval castles that used moats for protection.
Most hummingbird feeders are hung from above, so the moat is located above the nectar. Since ants can’t fly, the only way to reach the delicious sugar water is by walking. The hope is that once they reach the moat, they cannot cross the water barrier, so they can’t get to the food source.
There are TWO different types of ant moats.
A. Moat built into your feeder.
The good news is that most hummingbird feeders have an ant moat already built-in. They are inconspicuous, and if you already own a feeder, check to see if you just need to add water to the existing moat.
For example, here are two of my hummingbird feeders, both of which have ant moats as part of their design.
All I need to do is fill the small depressions with water, and I have an ant moat!
B. Buy an ant moat.
Luckily, if your existing hummingbird feeder does not have an ant moat, then you can buy one that hangs above the feeder.
Here is an ant moat that I use and recommend:
First Nature Ant Moat Check Today's Price
LEARN MORE HERE -> 9 Ways To Keep Ants OFF Your Hummingbird Feeders
#12. Stop “bullies” by hanging multiple feeders
Not only will you have a better chance at attracting more hummingbirds, but having lots of nectar feeders also prevents a bully hummer from scaring away other birds.
Yes, you heard correctly. Hummingbirds can be very aggressive and territorial. It’s not uncommon for one to perch next to a feeder and not let anyone else eat!
And don’t forget about putting a feeder on your window!
It’s incredibly exciting to watch hummingbirds feeding right outside your window. Watch the video below to see my FAVORITE feeder, along with footage of the hummers on my window (at the end)!
Aspects Jewel Box Window Nectar Feeder View Cost - Amazon
#13. Hang your feeders EARLY, keep them out LATE
Most hummingbird species travel thousands of miles each year during spring and fall migration. For such a tiny bird, this is an enormous energy expense.
To help them, make sure your nectar feeders are out before the first spring migrants arrive. If they could express their emotions, I’m sure hummingbirds would sincerely appreciate the fresh sugar water you provide.
The same principle applies in the fall. Many enthusiasts take their feeders down too early, just when hummingbirds are making their way back down south.
#14. Plant flowers that hummers can’t resist
The best way to continuously attract hummingbirds is to plant their favorite shrubs, trees, and flowers.
This is because the average hummingbird visits up to 2,000 flowers each day looking for nectar! Establishing a hummingbird garden takes advantage of this fact.
Hanging up hummingbird feeders can become a lot of work between changing the sugar water and cleaning every few days. But with flowers, you never have to worry if your nectar has spoiled. Nature takes care of everything and is the gift that keeps on giving!
#15. NATIVE plants work best
There are many reasons you should be using NATIVE plants instead of exotic species from Asia.
Here’s just one:
Hummingbirds eat more than only nectar. Arthropods and insects provide a considerable portion of their diet. And having native plants will attract significantly more bugs than exotic plants!
#16. Pay attention to your flower’s bloom times
This tip is my favorite when creating a garden that attracts hummingbirds ALL summer long.
You need to select flowers that bloom at different times. This way, hummingbirds have nectar to eat throughout the season, not just when your Rhododendron flowers in spring or your Red Cardinal Flower blooms in August.
And having flowers with different bloom times adds a lot of visual interest to your backyard. For example, I can walk outside from May until October and know that something is always flowering!
Having flowers blooming all season long in your garden is also a great way to attract butterflies!
#17. Select DIFFERENT colored flowers
Even though red is the best to attract hummingbirds, they will visit all colored flowers.
So don’t be afraid to have your hummingbird garden mimic a rainbow!
#18. Long, tubular flowers attract hummers best
The best flowers for attracting hummingbirds are long and look like a tube. Some great examples include Trumpet Vine, Red Cardinal Flower, and Honeysuckles.
First, these types of flowers typically have the most nectar. For example, there is so much nectar in the flowers of my honeysuckle vine my kids and I suck it out ourselves for a sugary treat!
And second, because of their tubular shape, most insects can’t get to the bottom of the flower to reach the nectar. But hummingbirds have no problems with their long beaks and long tongue. This fact means that hummingbirds have these types of flowers all to themselves!
#19. Encourage neighbors to attract hummingbirds
To attract even more hummingbirds, you want the habitat surrounding your backyard also to be desirable. Unfortunately, your yard can only support so many hummers, so you don’t want to be an oasis in a desert.
Try to get your neighbors involved by recommending some native plants to get them started. Almost everyone (non-birders included!) loves attracting hummingbirds to their backyard. You could even show them this post. 🙂
#20. Deadhead dying flowers
I want you to think about a question. What is the purpose of a flower?
Well, it’s not to look pretty. The goal of a flower is to attract a pollinator to get pollinated and then produce seeds, which ensures the survival of that plant’s species.
And once a plant has produced enough flowers that turn into seeds, it will stop making new flowers. From the plant’s perspective, it thinks it has done its job.
But from a hummingbird’s perspective, a plant that quits producing flowers is useless! They want fresh flowers full of nectar; otherwise, they need to look for a new food source.
Luckily, we can encourage plants to keep producing more flowers by pruning, otherwise known as deadheading, the dying or fading ones. Since we are removing the potential seeds, the plant will continue growing new flowers, which is excellent for hummingbirds! The below video gives a demonstration:
#21. Be patient!
If you want to attract hummingbirds, the first step is creating a backyard habitat they want to visit.
The second step is waiting.
As you are getting started, please tame your expectations. It’s unlikely that you will hang a feeder or plant a few flowers, and suddenly dozens of hummingbirds appear.
It can take days, weeks, months, even years before hummingbirds find your yard and start visiting regularly. They need to know that the food sources you provide can be relied upon and are consistent.
Don’t get discouraged!
But once they trust you, watch out! They will start visiting all the time. Hummingbirds will even remember where your feeders and flowers are located from year to year.
#22. Don’t use pesticides in your yard
Nectar is only a part of a hummingbird’s diet. They also eat lots of small insects and spiders, which provide them with protein and other nutrition. So by using pesticides, you are killing and eliminating a significant source of potential food.
Interestingly, hummingbirds use spider webs to help construct their nest and hold it together. You may hate spiders, but they are beneficial for attracting hummers.
#23. Try putting out old bananas!
Fruit flies are an excellent source of food and protein for hummingbirds. As your fruit is going bad, find a place in your garden, preferably hidden, and set it out.
As you probably have experienced, the rotting fruit will bring plenty of fruit flies, which should help attract hummingbirds.
#24. Attract hummingbirds with THIS type of water
Just like all creatures, hummingbirds need to drink. And you might be thinking that you already have a birdbath, so any visiting hummers will be satisfied.
But, you would be wrong. Unfortunately, you probably won’t see any of these winged beauties visiting your traditional birdbath.
That’s because hummingbirds like MOVING water!
Here are a few easy things you can do in your backyard to get the water moving. 🙂
Having a fountain is a great way to get the attention of hummingbirds. There are many decorative outdoor fountains available, which will look great in your yard. Or you can purchase an inexpensive solar fountain that should fit inside an existing birdbath.
Hummingbirds LOVE flying through the mist. The light spray is perfect for their tiny bodies. Not to mention, having a mister on your patio or deck on a hot day is great for human enjoyment too! If you need a recommendation, here is an inexpensive, highly-rated misting system on Amazon.
Getting water movement can be as simple as having a dripper. And it’s easy to make your own by filling a used milk jug with water and creating a tiny hole at the bottom. Then, hang the jug over a plant so the water will slowly drip out and soak the leaves, leaving an excellent place for hummingbirds to get a drink.
#25. Provide perching and hiding areas
If you don’t have any natural resting places in your backyard, I recommend planting some trees or bushes, so hummingbirds have a place to perch, hide, and take shelter. Even though hummingbirds need to eat at least every 15 minutes while awake, they spend a lot of time resting and will appreciate different places to perch.
Honestly, if you have a barren yard, it will be hard to attract hummingbirds. They are not going to feel comfortable. The more shelter and shrubbery you can provide, the safer you will make hummingbirds feel. The ultimate challenge (and reward) is if you can attract a nesting hummingbird!
And here’s something fun. You can buy hummingbird swings to place on your patio, deck, around your yard, or near a hummingbird feeder. Below, I have included one option, but many different styles are available.
What is your best advice for attracting hummingbirds?
Please leave a COMMENT below.
And who knows, by following these tips, your yard may look like the one below someday!