Late this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of a tiny hummingbird dodging rain and fighting wind to check out my feeder – no nectar! I rushed in the kitchen and made a batch of nectar (the nectar recipe is below). Once the nectar was cool, I put on a poncho, rain boots and headed out to fill the feeder. Thankfully, she came back.
Hummingbirds are fascinating! Enlist the help of the entire family to attract these tiny birds to your landscape.
Spring migration occurs from mid-April through May. This time of year, hummingbirds move through the area pretty quickly so visits to your feeders may be brief. We’re lucky in eastern Nebraska because some folks have Ruby-throated hummingbirds all summer long.
Fall migration for the ruby-throat migration peeks September 2-18, but you may see the birds as early as August and as late as October. Hummingbirds take more time heading south so if you don’t see any in spring, don’t give up! Try again in fall.
It’s easy to set out feeders and make your own nectar for the hummingbirds.
Nectar Recipe: Mix one part granulated white sugar (common table variety) with four parts water. For example, mix 1/4 cup sugar with one cup water. Boil the water, dissolve the sugar and allow to cool before filling feeders.
Don’t add red food dye or use honey. There is no need to add red food dye to the sugar water. Please don’t use honey because it will spoil quickly.
Keep leftover “nectar” refrigerated. Change the mix in your feeders every few day, more often in hot weather. Be sure to clean the feeder each time before refilling to prevent harmful molds.
Where to put your feeder: If you place your feeder in part sun or shade, the nectar won’t spoil as quickly. Hang it in a tree near your home and flower gardens so you can watch the birds. You may need to hang more than one feeder if the males get territorial at the feeders.
Add plants! You can attract hummingbirds by planting certain types of flowers, trees and shrubs. To Feed a Hummingbird from Nebraska Extension has been archived but it has helpful information on plants you can add to help attract hummingbirds.
Enjoy these resources:
- Bird Pollination: USDA Forest Service
- Feeder Watch: Be a Citizen Scientist – Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- Tips on Feeding Hummingbirds – All About Birds Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- Summertime in the United States of Hummingbirds – All About Birds Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- Attracting Hummingbirds – It’s Time – NEBRASKAland Magazine
- Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden Using Native Plants – USDA
- The heart of a hummingbird beats at 1,200 times a minute.
- Hummingbirds can fly forwards, backwards, hover in mid-air and even upside down!
- Hummingbirds cannot walk or hop – they can scoot sideways on a branch. Hummingbirds have small feet because they need to be light to fly.
- Hummingbirds feed on nectar and eat small insects.
- There are more than 340 species of hummingbirds.
- Hummingbirds are one of the smallest birds in the world. Most species are 3-5 inches in length. The tiny Bee hummingbird is the smallest and is only 2 inches long. The Giant hummingbird is 8 inches long.
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