Every spring, the kids and I (and my husband, though he may not admit it) jump off our couch and run to the window when our ruby-throated hummingbirds come back to visit our backyard feeder. That’s because hummingbirds are one of nature’s most fascinating creatures. They’re super fun to watch with their amazing acrobatics and beautiful to behold. It’s always a magical moment to see them up close and personal. Laying out the welcome mat for hummingbirds is easier than you may think. Set your yard abuzz with excitement this summer with these 7 hummer-happy secrets!
1. Show Me the Sugar Water.
Hummingbirds loooove sugar water. After all, these mini marvels have one of the fastest metabolisms of any animal on the planet, so they’re first in line when this high-calorie concoction is served up. Making your own sugar water mixture couldn’t be any easier. Simply bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup of regular white sugar. Stir to dissolve. Take off heat and let cool to room temperature. Done and done! IMPORTANT! While it may be tempting to add red dye to your sugar water (and you may see this tip online), just don’t. It’s bad for the birdies.
TIP! Put only 1/3 of the prepared sugar water in the feeder and store the rest in the fridge for up to a week (sugar water should be replaced every few days as you will learn below. Making a bigger batch and storing the extras will save you some serious time and keep your feeders full).
2. Keep It Clean, Folks.
I’m talking about the feeder. Sugar water gets nasty quickly. Keep their food so fresh and so clean by changing it out every 3 to 5 days. Sugar water that sits in the sun may spoil even quicker so place your feeder in a shady spot if possible. Every time you replace the mixture, check the feeder for mold. If you see any, use hot water and vinegar or a mild dishwashing detergent to clean it out. About every month or so, sterilize your feeder by taking it apart and running it through your dishwasher (on the top rack).
3. Plant a Hummingbird Garden.
Invite your backyard hummingbirds to nosh on a natural buffet of nectar-rich plants. Plant shade-friendly fuchsia in a hanging basket (hummingbirds love its bell-shaped blooms). Petunia is another great container option, as is verbena and calibrachoa. In a garden bed, consider bee balm, zinnia, salvia, cosmos, cleome and trumpet vine.
4. Put Out Plenty for Everyone.
If you are lucky enough, you may attract a swarm of hummingbirds. And while they may look super sweet, hummingbirds can get downright mean when there’s food on the line. If you notice a bully bird, try setting out another feeder at least 15 feet away (and out of sight, if possible) from the other. That should do the trick.
5. Provide a Place to Hide and Rest.
Hummingbirds are skittish, always-on-the-go creatures. You might have a better chance of bringing them if you hang your sugar water feeder in just the right spot. Consider under a gutter, from an awning or around some shrubbery. Somewhere shady is best but just make sure it’s noticeable and high enough up that prowling neighborhood cats can’t take a swipe at it. Providing cover offers protection and a place for tired hummers to perch. I hang mine just in front of my living room window about 12 inches above a row of Korean spicebush. My kids are then able to get a front-row seat to them feeding.
6. Woo ‘Em With Water.
From bathing to catching a quick drink, hummingbirds dig fresh water. Consider putting out a birdbath or, even better, one with a mister (moving water will catch their attention better than the standing variety). As with your feeder, replace dirty water with fresh every couple days.
7. Red Revs ‘Em Up.
From flowers to feeders, hummingbirds gravitate toward the color red. This heightened sensitivity to the vibrant hue is probably the easiest way to let them know your backyard is open for business. Consider a hummingbird feeder with red features, tie a red ribbon to the top of a sugar water feeder or plant flowers like bee balm, cardinal flower, flowering tobacco and snapdragon.
© Rachael Liska, happyhearthappyhome.com