How to Attract More Hummingbirds to Your Yard
If you love to see and hear birds in your backyard, you'll be pleased to know that there are several ways to make your outdoor space more attractive to your favorite feathered friends, hummingbirds. Found all across the United States, hummingbirds usually feed while hovering, extending their bills and long tongues deep into the center of the flower.
John Rowden, senior director for bird-friendly communities at the National Audubon Society, explains that having a nest-friendly environment is key. "Female hummingbirds are the nest builders, finding a location that can support the nest and the expanding brood," he says. "The nests are small, appropriate to the size of the bird, and generally made of materials like lichens, plant fibers, feathers, and spider silk, which is generally used to secure the nest to whatever structure it sits on, and helps it expand as the chicks hatch and grow." From here, female birds will often lay one or two eggs, incubate, and then raise the chicks.
To attract these birds and give them a space to call home, read on for more expert insight.
Grow Native Plants
"The best way to provide resources for hummingbirds is through planting native plants that can provide for hummingbirds' full life cycle," explains Rowden. According to Lester Poole, a Lowe's live nursery expert, one of the best plants is the daylily; the bold, colorful flower's claim to fame is its trumpet-like shape, beloved by hummingbirds for providing easier access to the nectar. Also consider adding sage, lantana, pentas, and columbine to your yard.
When it comes to the latter, Valerie Ghitelman, the vice president of product development and design at 1-800-Flowers.com, says the drought-resistant perennial's "flowers bloom in a wide range of colors such as red, yellow, white, blue, lavender, pink, and salmon." You can find even more hummingbird-friendly plants that are native to your local area by using Audubon's native plants database.
Set Up a Nectar Feeder
Rowden shares that feeders are just as effective as plants in attracting hummingbirds to your yard, and your own homemade nectar can do the trick. He says to dissolve 1/4 cup of sugar with 1 cup of boiling water and then let it cool off before putting it in the feeder. "It is critical that hummingbird feeders are maintained properly," he adds. "Since the nectar is sugar-based it can spoil quickly, especially in hot weather." To keep your feeder, like the Perky-Pet Hobnail Vintage Hummingbird Feeder ($17.84, chewy.com), in its best shape, Rowden suggests replacing the nectar and cleaning the feeder every few days. It's also important to check the nectar itself as often as possible to make sure it looks clear and unspoiled.
Provide Fresh Water
"In addition to native plants and feeders, [provide] fresh water or misting machines for hummingbirds to bathe in," Rowden says. A custom bird bath can also give the birds a space to rest and enjoy a gentle, continuous spray. Providing perches, as well, can help hummingbirds seek cover from predators.
Feature Red Florals
The color red is also a great way to bring hummingbirds into your vicinity. "Research has shown that hummingbird vision is more sensitive to colors in the red to yellow range of the spectrum and, in fact, their visual perception is an active area of research," explains Rowden, adding that unlike humans who have three types of cone photoreceptors, hummingbirds have a fourth photoreceptor that detects ultraviolet light. "Many hummingbird-attracting flowers reflect light in the red portion of the visual spectrum."
Sweet, nectar-filled honeysuckle flowers are one example. "Hummingbirds adore these open-mouthed florals and are even more attracted to their bright red-toned petals, which flower on and off throughout the year," says Poole. "These flowers prefer full, direct sun and grow extremely fast."