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GardenSMART :: The Backyard Buzz on Attracting Hummingbirds

The Backyard Buzz on Attracting Hummingbirds

By Cole's Wild Bird Products, Co.
Photographs courtesy of Cole's Wild Bird Products, Co.

If the birding world had a rock star, it would be the hummingbird. Swift, tiny, and simply amazing to watch, "hummers" are sometimes hard to spot, but catching a glimpse of one can be a summer experience you'll long remember. However you don't have to be an avid birder to be thrilled by the sight of a hummingbird.

Hummingbirds can be found across the country, with ruby-throated hummingbirds common east of the Rocky Mountains and a dozen or more species common in western regions. To maximize your chances of seeing a hummingbird this summer, take a few simple steps to attract them to your backyard, where you can enjoy them at your leisure.

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In spring, hummingbirds return from their tropical winter retreats in Central and South America, and this is the best time to attract them to your backyard. Like all wild birds, hummers have three basic requirements to make a place their home: access to food, water, and a good nesting spot.

Offering nectar-rich flowers and feeders is a good start. Brightly-colored flowers that are tubular hold the most nectar, and are particularly attractive to hummingbirds. These include perennials such as bee balm and daylilies and annuals such as fuchsia and petunias.

Research shows that these tiny birds have a remarkable memory and frequently return to the same safe sites, often on the same day of each year! If you feed consistently, you may have return visitors, especially during spring and fall migrations. If you can get them to nest nearby, you'll have fledglings that also may remember your address in years to come.

Providing sheltered perches and good nesting places encourages females to raise their young. Female hummers typically settle in deciduous trees. For nesting material, hummers love natural cotton fibers and use them along with spider webs and lichen to line their tiny nests. Natural cotton is ideal because it is soft and dries quickly. You'll find a variety of nesting materials for hummers sold at garden retailers.

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To start attracting hummers, you'll need a good hummer feeder. Cole's Wild Bird Products offers the Hummer High Rise, which will give your hummingbirds a coveted penthouse view with scientifically designed elevated perches for more comfortable, stress-free feeding. Not only are the birds more relaxed when they eat, but you get a better view of them around the feeder.

The one-of-a-kind Hummer High Rise also comes with a built-in ant moat, which stops ants from invading the feeder and spoiling the nectar. It's super easy to fill and dishwasher safe – must-have features for sure! Just mix and fill with one part sugar to four parts warm water and your backyard is ready for extraordinary hummers to visit and be easily seen. A hummingbird's high metabolism drives it to feed about every 10 minutes, and it examines every square yard in its range for food, experts say.

Keeping the feeder clean and the nectar refreshed is critical. Spoiled solutions can turn to alcohol and support mold, both harmful to the tiny birds. In cool weather, fluid can be left for five to seven days, but during hot spells it should be replaced every two days. A solution of ordinary white vinegar is a good non-toxic cleaner.

To learn more about hummingbirds, and to view a video, please visit Cole's website.


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