Attracting Hummingbirds

There are five different varieties of hummingbirds that have been spotted inMichigan between May and late August, the most common is the Ruby-throated hummingbird. The male has a red, metallic throat while the female is less colored with a white/gray throat. The female is the larger of the two. Gardeners and bird watchers are fascinated by these birds and often create gardens and hang feeders to attract them.

Because of the fast pace of their wings, they expend extreme amounts of energy, making it necessary for them to feed every 10 to 15 minutes from dawn until sunset.

Although hummingbirds eat tiny insects, they prefer nectar, which tends to be most abundant in trumpet-shaped flowers. They will also feed from other flowers, typically blooms that are reddish or purple in color.

Garden center specialists will often suggest using both a feeder, filled with sugar and water, and flowers or shrubs with high nectar content for attracting hummingbirds. The feeder should be in close proximity to the nectar producing plants.

The feeders are constructed to allow the birds to feed with ease. Many of the feeders are red, making them attractive to the birds. The sugar water is easy to make at home; a combination of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. After combining, bring the solution to a boil let it cool before filling the feeder. Boiling it will keep the solution fresher for a longer period of time, however, if the feeder is not emptied quickly, change the solution within a few days. Clean the feeder often to avoid mold spores and fermentation.  Never put honey into the feeder.  The recommended perennials, both spring blooming and summer blooming are often shown with bird symbols on the plant containers.

Some of the recommended perennials are:

  • Ajuga                         
  • Columbine
  • Dianthus
  • Iris
  • Bee Balm
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Bellflower
  • Coneflower
  • Coral Bells
  • Delphinium


Some recommended annuals are:

  • Salvia
  • Impatiens
  • Lantana
  • Hibiscus
  • Fuchsia
  • Petunia
  • Dahlia
  • Nasturtium
  • Snapdragon


Don’t forget the Honeysuckle and Trumpet vines, Azalea and Rhododendron shrubs.

If you want to encourage more hummingbirds to take up residence, plant several different hummingbird gardens in your yard with plenty of distance between them.  Hummers are territorial and will dive bomb other birds if they get too close to the food source.

It may take a season or two before the hummingbirds appear, but when they do, they will return every spring if the food source is available.


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