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How To Feed & Attract Hummingbirds

Why are these little birds so popular? There’s something so charming about washing your dishes at the kitchen sink or sitting at a table and looking out the window to see a hummingbird a few inches away from you, hovering and feeding from a hanging flower basket or feeder. They are the very small (just 3″ – 5″) and can fly backwards too! If you have a few regularly visit your yard, you can’t help but feel lucky.

They are spotted in the southern U.S. as early as March as they migrate north. You can follow their movement each year by watching the the map here [1].

If you’re way down south, the first half of March is normally when you want to get your feeders up so you can attract them to your yard, the rest of us will be a little later (I’m looking at May).

Simple Food Formula:

1 part white cane sugar
4 parts water

Store unused syrup in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. This is in optimal recipe since it closely resembles the nectar of many wildflowers.

See this page [2]. A cautionary note:

Please, do not put honey, Jell-O, brown sugar, fruit, or red food coloring in your feeder! Honey ferments rapidly when diluted with water and can kill hummingbirds. The effects of red dye have not been not scientifically tested, and it is not necessary to color the water to attract birds to your feeder. Further, there are unverified reports that red dye can cause tumors in them; this may or may not be true, but why take the chance?


Did you know: They’ll consume up to twice their body weight in nectar every day! They also enjoy supplementing their diet with the little insects and spiders that will be drawn to the sugar solution in the feeder.

DIY Feeder: Here’s a clever project [4] made with a wine bottle, red paint (if bottle isn’t already red), small bowl with a plastic, snap-on lid and heavy gauge wire.

Here’s another project from artsyvava.blogspot.com [5] made with a wine bottle, copper wire and a hummingbird bottle stopper.

Flowers That Attract Them:

If a feeder is too high maintenance for you, try a nice hanging basket of bright red or deep pink fuschia–I’ve been lucky and it’s always worked for me! More plant suggestions are found here [6].

For beginner gardeners, I’d recommend containers or boxes filled with petunias [7] or Impatiens (or try a mix of both!). I find them pretty low maintenance and hardy.

Good luck this year, I hope these little guys find you and choose to hang around :).