Attract hummingbirds to your garden


Summer is here and it’s the perfect time to enjoy our precious hummingbirds. Named for the humming sound made by their wings in flight, these birds are known for their small size, amazing energy, and beautiful colors.

More than 300 species of hummingbirds live in North and South America, with most living in the tropics.

About 16 species are found in the U.S., with the ruby-throated hummingbird found east of the Mississippi River.They stay here in the Northeast until around September, when they migrate to Central America.

Hummingbirds can be found in deciduous and conifer forests, woodland clearings as well as along property edges, parks and suburban gardens.

They prefer areas where they can find nectar-bearing flowers with trees and shrubs nearby to provide shelter and places for perching. They are often found near a water source.You can attract these beauties by considering the following factors.

Availability of Food

By planting different sources of food and/or providing bird feeders, you can provide the food supplies that hummingbirds need. Flowering herbs, shrubs, vines, and trees provide a good source of food and will attract them to an area.

Try to include a variety of plants that bloom from around May through early fall.This will insure hummingbirds have a food source for the entire time they are here. They are attracted to large clusters of flowers.

In general, flowers most attractive to hummingbirds are red, orange, or pink and are tubular in shape.

Add a Hummingbird Feeder

Even if you don’t have a garden space, you can still attract hummingbirds to spaces such as patios or balconies by using flowers in containers and by adding a hummingbird feeder.

These are not traditional bird feeders but designed to dispense a sugar and water solution. Hummingbird “nectar” solution is made by mixing one-part sugar to four parts water. Bring water to a boil and pour over sugar. Stir the solution and let it cool to room temperature before pouring into a feeder.

Extra solution can be stored in the refrigerator.It is unnecessary to add red dye to the solution since the hummingbirds will be attracted to the red color of typical feeders. Place feeders close to plantings of flowers.

Most important, place it where you can watch these magnificent creatures! Replace the solution every 3 to 5 days and clean the feeder before refilling. Feeders can attract bees, yellow jackets, wasps or ants.

Some feeders you can buy include “bee guards” on the openings. They aren’t perfect. Changing the solution and cleaning the feeder regularly is your best defense against unwanted insects.

Minimize Pesticide Use

Hummingbirds also eat insects. Pesticides reduce the number of insects available to eat. Herbicides can kill plants that produce flowers that hummingbirds feed on. The birds themselves can be sensitive; therefore, minimize any pesticide use.


The nectar provides most of the water hummingbirds need. They also drink water from leaf surfaces after rainfall. Hummingbirds also like to use water for bathing and particularly like to fly through a fine mist. Add a small birdbath; or consider using a device such as a misting fountain within a birdbath to further attract hummingbirds to your space.

Protect the birds

These birds are small and can be attractive to pets, especially cats. Be sure to place feeders away from potential predators; place them in open areas and high enough to be out of an animal’s reach.

The Audubon Society’s website, for useful information on how to protect and lure hummingbirds to your home garden and also provides a list of hummingbird favorite plants.

For more information on gardening, visit our website Cooperative Extension is always happy to answer your garden questions, contact us at 315-736-3394, ext. 100.

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