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How To Start Feeding Hummingbirds?

Watching hummingbirds flitting around nectar feeders can be as addictive as watching your favorite TV shows. If you’re thinking of putting hummingbird feeders in your yard, or if you’ve already got them, you may be wondering if there’s anything else you can do to attract more hummingbirds. If you’re wondering how to start feeding hummingbirds, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about it.

How to Attract Hummingbirds to a Feeder

how to attract hummingbirds to feeder

To start feeding hummingbirds, the first step is to attract them to your yard. Most people do this by placing special hummingbird feeders throughout their yard.

But, suppose you’ve already put the feeders out and the hummingbirds just aren’t showing up. Is there anything else you can do to help them find your feeder?

Actually, there are several things you can do.

Keep The Feeder Full

Even if the birds haven’t discovered your feeder yet, the nectar will evaporate over time. Insects such as bees and ants may also deplete the nectar source.

When you’re trying to attract hummingbirds, you can’t just fill up the feeder, stick it outside, and forget about it. You’ll also need to make sure it stays full by adding fresh nectar every couple of days.

Clean it Regularly

Whether using homemade or store bought hummingbird nectar, it will eventually go bad. It’s out in the heat all day, bugs may fall into it, and it may even become contaminated with dust and air pollution. 

Hummingbirds are much less likely to drink bad nectar, and you wouldn’t want to feed them something that could make them sick. Make sure you dump out the old nectar every couple of days and wash the feeder thoroughly before refilling with fresh nectar.  

Make Homemade Nectar

Hummingbird nectar is very easy to make, and hummingbirds tend to prefer homemade nectar over the store bought stuff because it doesn’t include the extra colors and preservatives.

When making your nectar, don’t add red food coloring. The dye contains substances that can be harmful to hummingbirds, and clear nectar will attract the birds just as effectively as red nectar.

To learn how to make homemade hummingbird nectar, check out the following video:

Plant Flowers

Hummingbirds will drink nectar from flowers when no feeders are available. In fact, they may use flowers as an alternative food source even when they have a feeder to drink from.

Planting flowers in your yard has a similar effect as placing a bunch of bright balloons with a yard sale sign. The flowers are easy for hummingbirds to spot and send a signal that this is a place where they can find food.

Some flowers that hummingbirds especially like are geraniums, hollyhocks, lantanas, begonias, and honeysuckles.

Place the Feeder Near Nesting Spots

When hummingbirds are scouting out new territories, they aren’t just looking for food. They’re looking for safe environments with plenty of food and nesting areas.

Do you have a lot of trees or bushes in your yard? A flower garden with azaleas, butterfly bush, and other flowering shrubs?

These areas would be great for building a tiny nest, so placing feeders nearby will only sweeten the deal.

How Long Does it Take For Hummingbirds to Find Your Feeder?

Even if you’ve followed all of these tips, it may still take some time before the hummingbirds start to discover your feeders. How long it takes will depend on several factors. 

If there are already a lot of hummingbirds in your area, they may discover your feeder in a matter of hours. If not, they will have to travel farther before they find the feeder, which may take some extra time.

On the other hand, if there are a lot of hummingbirds in the area, there’s a good chance one or more of your neighbors are also feeding them. If this is the case, it may be a while before they discover that you have a hummingbird feeder, too.

It may take around 3 weeks for the first hummers to start showing up at your feeder, but that’s just a general rule of thumb. It may take much longer than that.

If you don’t notice any birds coming to your feeder, just give it some time. Sooner or later, you’ll start to see the little birds buzzing around your feeder.

What Time of Day Do Hummingbirds Come to Feeders?

what time of day do hummingbirds come to feeders

Hummingbirds need to eat throughout the day. Their tiny bodies burn a lot of energy, and they typically eat about half their own weight in nectar and small insects every day.

You are most likely to see hummingbirds visiting your feeders in the morning and evening, but you may see them at any time during the day. 

Hummingbirds need to eat as much as seven times every hour. While it’s unlikely that your feeder is their only food source, you may notice the same birds coming back to your feeder several times a day.

How Long to Keep Feeding Hummingbirds

As long as you are actively seeing the hummingbirds at your feeders, then it’s okay to keep feeding them. At some point, though, you may need to bring your feeders inside for the winter.

In cooler climates, hummingbirds are active during the spring and summer months, then will migrate for the winter. In some warmer climates, hummingbirds can be seen year round.

In most areas of the United States, you can keep feeding the hummingbirds from spring through late summer or fall. The further south you are, the longer the season will be. 

When to Stop Feeding Hummingbirds

As noted above, in most regions, you won’t want to leave your feeder up year round. 

When you bring your feeder inside will depend on the weather and climate of your particular region. A good rule of thumb is to leave your feeder out at least a week after seeing your last hummer of the season.

That said, if you see hummers all year long in your area, it’s okay to feed them all year long. Just be aware of any potential storms or freezes in the forecast and bring your feeder in during these times.

Conclusion

Many people enjoy watching hummingbirds eat from their nectar feeders. If you’re hoping to attract some hummers to your yard, there are several things you can do to make your feeders look more desirable.

Simple steps like cleaning the feeders often and planting flowers in your yard can go a long way toward bringing in the hummingbirds. And once you’ve brought them in, you can keep feeding them until they head to warmer places for the winter.

Here is our guide on how hummingbirds feed their young.

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