A Symphony of Hummingbirds: 10 Techniques and 18 Plants to Attract Them

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Unveiling the Marvels of Nature

Hey there, nature lovers! Get ready to dive into the incredible world of the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds – those tiny, feisty creatures that are guaranteed to steal your heart! In today’s edition of Wild Neighbors: Antlers, Feathers & Paws, we will focus on our feathered neighbors and show you how to create your own backyard hummingbird oasis. It’s like having a VIP lounge for these fantastic flying jewels!

Just because it’s late August doesn’t mean it’s too late to start working on creating your hummingbird oasis. We’ll reveal all the secrets of how to attract these little charmers to your yard. From their favorite flowers and plants that they simply can’t resist to tips and tricks for making your outdoor space a hummingbird paradise – we’ve got you covered.

So, grab a cup of nectar (or a cool drink, if you prefer) and get ready to bring some buzzing and fluttering action to your garden. And hey, who knows, you might even get a front-row seat to witness those amazing aerial acrobatics firsthand. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get ready to learn about creating a hummingbird haven right in your backyard!

Security camera captures a visitor

Sunrise to Sunset with the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

As the crack of dawn as the sun starts to come over the back ridgeline, it’s showtime at Marleywood, New Hampshire’s own bustling avian metropolis. Hummingbirds begin swooping in from every direction like tiny speedsters, refueling for a caffeine-fueled joyride. They’re early risers, strutting their stuff around 5:25 a.m., just as the world starts to wake up.

However, I am already sitting at my desk, pen in hand, journaling. Just as I’m deep in thought, musing about the meaning of life or simply what happened yesterday, my trusty security camera politely interrupts my profound moment with a not-so-subtle ping. It’s like they’re saying, “Hey, wake up! The show is about to start!” And boy, do they put on a show.

Now, I must confess, when I first moved here, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of these little buzzers. Their loud buzzing made me question if I had stumbled into a jurassic mosquito convention or a bee rave. But no, these were the feathered daredevils, the hummingbirds. They were like something out of a cartoon, zipping and zooming with more energy than a toddler on a sugar high. They do make me laugh.

Back in my old stomping grounds in Connecticut, nature was something I barely had time to ponder. Raising two wild kids on my own was a full-time job, with no room for marveling at the wonders of the avian world. But here in Marleywood, it’s like the birds have their own VIP lounge, open 24/7. It doesn’t matter if it’s sunrise or sunset; these dedicated nectar enthusiasts never miss a beat.

Even as the sun says its dramatic goodbyes, painting the sky in breathtaking hues of orange and pink, these tiny daredevils are still making their rounds. They refuse to let a little thing like darkness ruin their party. It’s like they’re the last guests at an epic soirée, determined to squeeze out every last drop of nectar before calling it a night.

Feeder Insights: Key Considerations for Creating a Hospitable Hummingbird Haven

When it comes to selecting the perfect hummingbird feeder, the options are endless. From various sizes and designs to different materials and functionalities, there are plenty of choices to suit every hummingbird enthusiast’s preferences.

One type of feeder that I highly recommend is the Mini hummingbird feeders. These adorable feeders are compact in size and come in a set of six. What I love about these feeders is their versatility. You can place them in different areas of your yard, creating a network of feeding stations for the hummingbirds to enjoy. Whether you hang them from branches, pergolas, or even hooks, these mini feeders offer a convenient way to attract and feed these delightful creatures.

If you’re looking for a feeder with more feeding ports, the Hummingbird Feeders with 5 Feeding Ports are a great option. With more ports available, more hummingbirds can feed simultaneously, creating a buzzing and lively feeding experience. These feeders often come in eye-catching designs, adding a lovely touch to your outdoor space while providing nourishment to the graceful hummingbirds.

For those who prefer glass feeders, the Pinch-Waist Glass Hummingbird Feeder with Perches is an excellent choice. Featuring an elegant and durable glass bottle with an 8oz capacity, this feeder not only provides ample nectar but also adds a touch of sophistication to your garden. The perches allow hummingbirds to rest while they feed, making it even more enjoyable to observe their graceful movements.

Regardless of the feeder you choose, one crucial aspect to consider is ease of cleaning. Hummingbird feeders require regular cleaning to ensure the health and well-being of the birds. Look for feeders that are easy to disassemble and clean thoroughly, as this will save you time and effort in the long run. Proper maintenance of your feeders is key to preventing the growth of mold and bacteria, ensuring a safe and healthy environment for the hummingbirds to enjoy.

Remember to place your feeders in a strategic location, preferably near flowers or brightly colored shrubs, as hummingbirds are naturally attracted to vibrant hues. It’s also important to regularly replenish the nectar, especially during peak migration seasons, to keep the hummingbirds coming back to your garden.

By selecting the right feeder and providing a reliable food source, you can create an inviting haven for hummingbirds, adding beauty and joy to your outdoors. Plus, they make fantastic gifts!

Love in the Air: The Hummingbird Mating Dance

Once you invite these incredible beauties to your backyard, you will be amazed at some of the things you can witness. There have been many times that we have watched the incredible mating flight patterns while sitting on the deck enjoying our morning coffee. The air at Marleywood is infused with love. They orchestrate a mesmerizing display of affection, flying aerial acrobats that would inspire any aviator. With grace, they carve U-shaped patterns in the sky, a spectacle that rivals the romance of any movie. Their unique way of declaring, “Behold, I am a splendid catch!” This aerial ballet is a sight that left me awestruck the first time I witnessed it—an indelible memory etched in my mind.

A rare moment of eye-to-lens contact.

Where Feathers Meet Fences: Finding Harmony in Nature

Marleywood isn’t just a place where humans and hummingbirds coexist; it’s a symphony of collaboration. The wire fencing, originally intended to safeguard our deck from our exuberant dogs, emerges as an unexpected haven for these agile acrobats. The intricate dance of nature’s tiniest creatures has woven a tapestry of enchantment in our backyard, so much so that as I ponder a renovation – I am wondering how to incorporate new areas for them to perch.

As the morning sun rises over the back ridgeline, the air comes alive with the ethereal hum of wings. It’s a subtle yet captivating sound that beckons you to step outside and join the avian orchestra. Many times I have sat still in a deck chair with my camera poised on a feeder, hoping to get a shot. However, my camera is heavy, and although I could sit there for hours on end, I wouldn’t get anything else done. So, I’ve positioned a security camera at one of the feeders, a technological sentinel capturing the delicate beauty of every wing flutter. It is a front-row ticket to the hummingbird theater, where nature’s drama unfolds in all its splendor. Through the lens, I witness their aerial acrobatics and fierce territorial disputes as these avian marvels assert their dominance over the precious nectar-filled feeders.

Every feathery visitor brings a unique personality to the stage. Here in New Hampshire, we only have the beautiful Ruby-Throated Hummingbird to behold. But depending on where you are, you may be seeing the bold and assertive Anna’s Hummingbird, with its radiant emerald feathers and distinctive chirp. Or possibly the dainty Rufous Hummingbird, with its fiery orange plumage, captivating even the most jaded of spectators. Or the enchanting Calliope Hummingbird, the smallest bird in North America, with its ethereal song that seems to transcend time itself. Whichever hummingbird you are lucky enough to invite to your backyard, the rules are all the same in attracting and keeping their environment safe.

Marleywood has become our sanctuary, a place where time slows down and the wonders of nature take center stage. It’s a constant reminder of the delicate balance between humans and the natural world. Through the lens of the camera, I am humbled by the grace and beauty of these tiny creatures, and I am reminded of our shared responsibility to protect and preserve the precious ecosystems that surround us.

A Lesson in Care and Respect: Nurturing the Hummingbird Connection

Cleaning a hummingbird feeder isn’t difficult, but it is one that requires diligence and attention to detail. The process begins with disassembling the feeder and thoroughly rinsing each component with warm water. I find that using a good wire brush of many sizes is essential for reaching the nooks and crannies of the feeder where mold can hide. Once the initial rinsing is complete, it’s time to delve into the deeper cleaning. Using a mixture of boiling water and mild dish soap, I carefully scrub the feeder to remove any residual nectar or debris. Paying close attention to corners, seams, and feeding ports ensures a thorough cleanse. After the scrubbing is complete, a final rinse with hot water removes any lingering soap residue. It is crucial to eliminate all traces of soap, as even a small amount can be harmful to the hummingbirds. Once the feeder is clean, I dry it thoroughly before refilling it with fresh nectar.

Inspecting feeders regularly is another important aspect of hummingbird care. Checking for any signs of damage, such as cracks or leaks, ensures a safe and functional feeding station for our avian friends. If any issues are found, prompt repairs or replacement may be necessary.

Hummingbirds can get terratorial

When it comes to attracting hummingbirds, timing is crucial. Setting out feeders at the right time can greatly benefit both early and late migrators during their long journey. In the spring, it’s important to anticipate the arrival of hummingbirds before they even show up in your area. By placing feeders out a week or two ahead of their expected arrival in May, you provide a welcoming oasis for these feathered travelers. This extra preparation ensures that when the first hummingbirds appear in your region, they will find a reliable and easily accessible food source waiting for them.

Similarly, as the hummingbird season comes to a close in the fall, it’s essential to keep your feeders available for the late migrators. While most hummingbirds begin their southward journey earlier in the season, some stragglers may continue to pass through your area in search of nourishment. By leaving your feeders out until mid- to late October, you offer a much-needed fuel station for these individuals, allowing them to replenish their energy for their continued migration.

Setting out feeders at the beginning and end of the hummingbird season not only provides essential nourishment for the birds but also increases your chances of observing these delightful creatures up close. So, make sure to plan ahead and keep your feeders stocked to help the early and late migrators along their incredible journeys.

A female pauses to inspect the feeder
  1. Color Your Garden with Nature’s Palette Hummingbirds, like flying jewels, are irresistibly drawn to vivid hues. Paint your garden with a tapestry of nectar-rich flowers in red, orange, and pink shades. Imagine the jubilation as they flit from bee balm to salvia, collecting nectar and spreading delight.
  2. Hang Up Hummingbird Havens For a touch of enchantment, hang hummingbird feeders. Mix a simple sugar water concoction (1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water). With my multitude of feeders, I prepare a mixture of 1 cup of sugar and 4 cups of water. Skip the food coloring—it’s unnecessary and potentially harmful. Witness the mesmerizing aerial spectacle as these acrobats visit for a sip, sometimes even playfully hovering by the window, wondering about the temporarily absent feeders.
  3. A Resting Spot for Weary Wings After a day of nectar-sipping exertion, even hummingbirds seek respite. Offer perches near the feeders and observe them take a breather. Our wire fencing emerges as an unexpected lounge for these feathered friends—an exclusive VIP area in our backyard.
  4. Showers of Delight Hummingbirds, it turns out, relish self-pampering. Often overlooked, their need for water extends beyond nectar. A shallow birdbath or fine mist transforms your garden into a sanctuary where these delicate visitors playfully refresh themselves.
  5. Pesticide Puzzles Here’s a conundrum: Hummingbirds feast on minute insects, yet these pests can plague our plants. The solution lies in natural pest control. Seek products labeled “OMRI Listed®” with the OMRI seal—ensuring organic, ecosystem-friendly care. This keeps our feathered friends well-fed and our gardens flourishing.
  6. The Joy of Clean Feeders Maintaining clean feeders is pivotal. Regularly clean them with boiling water and a scrub brush, using small wire brushes to reach the intricate areas where hummingbirds insert their beaks. Vigilance against mold is paramount.
  7. Shelter, Sweet Shelter Hummingbirds seek safe havens from prying eyes and hungry predators. Bushes, trees, and dense foliage provide the sanctuaries that make your garden a welcoming retreat.
  8. Bring on the Bling. A touch of sparkle is irresistible—even to hummingbirds. Hang reflective elements like mirrors or wind chimes to add a glint of wonder to their realm. Solar-powered plastic hummingbirds intrigued our guests, visiting curiously near the feeders.
  9. Flowers That Sing Year-Round The dream of a year-round hummingbird garden is tantalizing but unfeasible in central New Hampshire. Nonetheless, I relish their visits from May to September and sometimes even early October. Optimal planning involves planting various flowers that bloom at varying times, from spring through fall. This assures an uninterrupted nectar supply, ensuring our tiny guests return time and again.
  10. Native is Nifty Nature’s wisdom shines in native plants, extending an open invitation to local wildlife, including hummingbirds. These flora are uniquely suited to the local ecosystem—a win-win for all. When introducing flowers, shrubs, and trees for hummingbirds, select native species adapted to your region’s climate. Placing them in full sun is crucial, as sunlight fuels their blooming.

August is the perfect time to sow the seeds of hummingbird attraction. Consider planting shrubs and trees that beckon these magnificent creatures. Late summer and early fall are ideal for adding these plants to your landscape. No matter the time of year, you can always create a welcoming environment for hummingbirds by incorporating these charming blossoms.

Spring Blooms that Attract Hummingbirds

  1. Columbine (Aquilegia): Delicate and diverse, these flowers in various hues boast spurred petals serving as hummingbird-friendly landing pads.
  2. Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis): Heart-shaped blossoms hold spring’s affection, a favorite among hummingbirds.
  3. Salvia (Salvia spp.): Spring’s onset witnesses many salvia varieties unfurling, extending their nectar bounty through summer.
  4. Lupine (Lupinus): Dramatic spikes flourish, a visual spectacle adored by hummingbirds seeking nectar.
  5. Summer Stars: 5. Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens): Fragrant orange-red flowers unfold, captivating hummingbirds from summer through fall (USDA zones 4-9).
  6. Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera x brownii): Trumpet-shaped blooms herald summer’s glory, a delight for hummingbirds in USDA zones 4-9.
  7. Bee Balm (Monarda): Vibrant and tubular, this perennial magnetizes hummingbirds throughout the sunny seasons.
  8. Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans): Abundant nectar fills large trumpet-shaped blooms, beckoning hummingbirds in sun-soaked splendor.
  9. Liatris (Liatris spicata): Unique flower spikes extend a late summer feast to hummingbirds, ensuring their vibrant presence.
  10. Hollyhock (Alcea): Tall and vibrant, hollyhocks form a picturesque backdrop as hummingbirds revel in their colorful blooms.
  11. Fall Flourish: 11. Crocosmia (Crocosmia): Vivid funnel-shaped flowers persist through late summer into fall, a hummingbird’s paradise.
  12. Fuchsia (Fuchsia spp.): Pendant blossoms entice hummingbirds well into fall, a prelude to their migratory journey.
  13. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis): Striking red blooms emerge in late summer, a guiding light for hummingbirds preparing to depart.

Late Bloomers: Attracting Hummingbirds Even in Late August

  1. Winterberry (Ilex verticillata): A shrub graced with red berries persisting through winter—ideal for USDA zones 4-9.
  2. Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa): Bursting with pink or red springtime blooms, a fitting choice for USDA zones 5-9.
  3. Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis): Clusters of pink spring flowers adorn this shrub, flourishing in USDA zones 5-8.
  4. Viburnum (Viburnum spp.): A multitude of varieties—white, pink, or blue blooms spanning spring to summer, welcoming in USDA zones 3-9.
  5. Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens): This evergreen shrub boasts fragrant yellow flowers gracing late winter and spring and flourishing in USDA zones 7-9.

 Remember, region-specific conditions influence each plant’s success. By weaving these selections, you craft a year-round haven, drawing these captivating birds back repeatedly. 

In the hustle and bustle of life, I’ve discovered something truly remarkable about these little warriors: hummingbirds have this incredible ability to make us appreciate the magic that exists all around us. They teach us to slow down, to savor the fleeting moments, and to find joy in the world’s enchantment. So why not add a touch of vibrant beauty to your backyard? Mix up some sweet nectar, sit back, and let nature’s tiniest miracles transform your space. By embracing these insights, you’ll be creating an extraordinary hummingbird haven where nature’s wonders come to life in the most delightful way.

And there you have it, the world of Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds unveiled in all its glory. From their vibrant morning buzz to their mesmerizing aerial dance of love, these little dynamos have so much to share. By embracing their presence in our lives and taking simple steps to welcome them – from planting the right blooms to choosing the perfect feeders – we open ourselves to a world of wonder right in our own backyard. So, as you gather your colors, mix up that sweet sugar water, and watch these tiny creatures zip and zoom, remember that the magic of nature is never far away. Happy hummingbird hosting!

Curious Hummingbird taking Selfies