Want to keep your hummingbirds visiting often? Then this information is for YOU!
The first thing is you’ll need to offer some hummingbird hospitality. Which means providing them with the same services you’d expect in a good hotel: appealing food and drink, and a comfortable place to sleep.
Wait a minute, you might say. You talk about lodging, but where do hummingbirds sleep?
Because these flying miracles have heartbeats up to 1,000 times per minute, they stop and snooze often. And one of the places they’ve been known to snooze is on the perches of hummingbird feeders. Just check out this one-minute video on YouTube. (Amazing what you can find on YouTube: there’s also a one-minute video of a hummingbird snoring.)
Another key to keeping the hummers visiting your yard often is simply to put out feeders and fill them with sugar solution.
You’ve probably heard a fancier name for it: hummingbird nectar, but there’s actually NO such thing!
Hummingbirds extract nectar from flowers but NOBODY sells flower nectar. However, the ingredient in the flower nectar that nourishes the hummers is sucrose, which is what white table sugar is made from.
All YOU have to do to create a viable substitute is make a solution of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Bring it to a boil to eliminate any bacteria or mold, and when it cools down to room temperature, you’re ready to go.
But here are some details to keep in mind: use the PUREST water available and choose a brand of granular white sugar that contains no preservatives or additives (Domino, for example), and DO NOT substitute brown sugar, honey, or any other kind of sugar or sweetener. This is critical. For example, hummingbirds can die from the mold that will start to grow if you substitute honey.
You’ll want to change the solution in your feeders every two or three days.
If you see no signs of mold or fermentation (odor, or change in the color of the solution) you can get away with doing it less often. But the hotter the weather, the faster the solution will spoil; during very hot spells you might even need to change the solution every day.
Before you add your sugar solution to your feeders, RINSE them out thoroughly. At least once a week clean them with some soapy water and a bottle brush; some people use white vinegar. After you’ve filled up your feeders, refrigerate any unused solution; it should last for about a week.
Creating a Hummingbird Habitat
Much more importantly your back yard should have value-added appeal in the eyes of your little bejeweled patrons, this is done with the presence of THEIR favorite plants.
They will WANT to dine out at these fine nectar-bearing plants and you can be sure that they will appreciate the enhanced ambience those blooms provide in your back yard as much as you do.
For a list of plants that will bloom ALL season long, read our blog article: The Ultimate Dining Guide for Hummingbirds.
Another help in creating the prefect backyard for your hummingbirds is to offer them nesting material. If you don’t have access to a prepackaged supply, they will also use moss, cotton fluffs, bits of willows, soft plant pieces, dryer lint, and leaf hairs.
Hummingbirds don’t make reservations, but to see the travel itinerary of the ruby-throated hummers, visit hummingbirds.net.
In the meantime, roll out the grass carpet and follow our hummingbird hospitality advice. You may soon find that your back yard has turned into a Hummingbird Hilton.