Hummingbirds fascinate people by their beauty and their remarkable ability to hover in one place merely by flapping their wings. Therefore, many people want to attract them to their patio or garden so they can get a closer look at these incredible little birds in action. In the US there are 16 varieties of hummingbirds. In order to bring these birds to a garden one has to understand their needs. Hummingbirds feed for roughly 2 hours each day in order to maintain their amazing flight abilities. A hummingbird can eat anywhere from half (1/2) to eight (8) times its body weight a day and will visit an average of 1,000 flowers per day for nectar. Due to this strong demand to eat hummingbirds are extremely loyal to their feeding sites. A hummingbird that feeds in a yard one year will return to that feeder the next year.

The type of feeder will determine the type of bird attracted and the food you put into it will also determine which birds and or other animals will come to your feeder. So obviously purchase a feeder specifically designed for hummingbirds. The two requirements of a hummingbird’s feeder are : the feeder must be clean and the nectar fresh. Add 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of boiling water and cool or you can purchase a commercial pre-mixed nectar for the feeder. Do not add red coloring to the water. The feeder can be red — hummingbirds are attracted to anything red! Hummingbirds feed by sight on regularly followed routes in order to visit a circuit of specific plants, trees, or other feeding sites. This behavior is called traplining.

The flowers in your garden will also attract hummingbirds especially if those flowers are orange or red in color and have trumpet shaped or tubular shaped flowers. Such flowers as Scarlet trumpet honeysuckle, weigela, butterfly bush, beardtongue, coralbells, red-hot-poker, foxglove, nicotiana, petunia, summer phlox and scarlet sage (in shades of red and orange) are a few favorites of the hummingbird. However, don’t use pesticides around hummingbird plants because by killing the bugs will also eliminate the small insects hummingbirds eat and rely upon for their protein in their diet. And obviously they may ingest the pesticide sprayed on the flowers and could become ill or die.

Since hummingbirds spend 80% of their time sitting on branches, leaf stems and such, between feedings convenient perching structures will make your patio more attractive to hummingbirds.

By providing misters (water) for hummingbirds to fly through and for them to bathe on the nearby misted leaves will also attract hummingbirds to your garden or patio. They do this by rubbing themselves against the wet foliage. Hummingbirds don’t like traditional bird baths. Also the misted leaves glisten in the sun which attracts hummingbirds from a distance as they fly overhead.

These special attractions will make your patio the perfect haven for hummingbirds to return to each year. After the hummingbirds migrate in the fall you can put up a variety of hummingbird garden accents and decorations that will remind you of their presence till they return next spring.

Written by Phyllis Kaplan