Spring is in the air and fluttering all around us, including hummingbirds. Keep reading to learn how you can attract them to your home.
With azalea bushes blooming around the front porch stairs, I sat with my tiny face pressed up against my grandmother’s glass door as I watched the hummingbirds dart around. Creating hummingbirds memories like these from my childhood is easy enough once you understand what is going on in their tiny minds.
Mini ornithology lesson
Hummingbirds are one of the smallest birds, weighing in between two to twenty grams. That ranges roughly from the weight of a penny to the weight of an AA battery 🔋.
Despite their tiny bodies, their wings can beat between fifty to eighty times per second, can fly up to sixty miles per hour and can fly forwards, backwards, up, down and side to side.
Because of all that movement, hummingbirds burn a significant amount of calories. They typically feed about four times an hour.
To get the nectar from inside the flowers, hummingbirds have long, tubular tongues that reach deep into the flower. These little birds mostly consist on a diet of nectar but will also eat insects to meet the rest of the nutrient needs.
There are over three hundred types of hummingbirds in the world. In Alabama, you’ll find the uncommon rufous hummingbird and common ruby-throated hummingbird.
They have two migratory seasons: fall and spring. You’ll commonly see ruby-throated hummingbirds arrive in mid-March to mid-April and leave in October.
Did you know a ruby-throated hummingbird’s heart beats from 225 times per minute when the bird is at rest? That can increase to more than 1,200 times per minute when it is flying 😱.
How to get hummingbirds to visit your home
If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of these fast paced birds, you’ll need to turn your yard into the perfect rest stop. Certain flowers attract hummingbirds and putting out a hummingbird feeder will catch their attention on the long flight.
Flowers that attract hummingbirds:
- Provide a large amount of nectar with a substantial sugar content, which is roughly twenty-six percent
- Nectar cannot be too concentrated and sticky
- Are often long and tubular—perfect for their long, narrow bill and tongues
- Usually hang down or point downward, so hovering birds have easier access
- Typically have red or orange petals (helps catch the eye of the fast paced hummingbird)
Specifically, these plants most commonly attract hummingbirds.
- Bee balm
- Cardinal flower
- Trumpet creeper
- Coral honeysuckle
Check out these wildflower hikes in Alabama to catch a glimpse of a hummingbird and other birds.
Get a hummingbird approved health score 💯
Birds of a feather flock together. Photo via Bama Buzz This looks just like the feeder in my grandmother’s yard. Photo via Carole Sawada for Bham Now
To make your hummingbird feeder nectar, you need a syrup that is twenty percent sucrose. That is roughly one cup of granulated white sugar dissolved in four cups of water.
It is vital to hummingbirds’ health that feeders are cleaned and refilled at least twice a week in hot weather to prevent mold. If the weather is cooler, then the feeder will need to be changed and cleaned once a week.
Although they seem very cute, hummingbirds are territorial and will chase others away from a feeder. If you have more than one, space each feeder about fifteen to twenty-feet apart.
Do not 🙅♀️
- substitute honey for sugar
- add red food coloring
- place a feeder next to a window
Honey does not provide the needed nutrients and can be lethal to their health. Red food coloring does not occur naturally, adds nothing necessary to the nectar and may be harmful. Placing a feeder near a window can kill them if they crash land into the window.