Hummingbirds need to eat a lot. The best time to observe them is when they are eating. Hummingbirds look for flowers with an abundance of nectar, those with deep corolla. To attract hummingbirds, plant different varieties of flowers whose blooming will stretch throughout the season. Since hummingbirds vigorously defend their territory, plant your flowers in such a way that they won’t see one another. Select varieties of different heights and different colours. Hummingbirds appear to prefer red, orange or pink flowers, although they do not ignore flowers of other colours.
Hummingbirds need to eat a lot. The best time to observe them is when they are eating. Hummingbirds look for flowers with an abundance of nectar, those with deep corolla. To attract hummingbirds, plant different varieties of flowers whose blooming will stretch throughout the season. Since hummingbirds vigorously defend their territory, plant your flowers in such a way that they won’t see one another. Select varieties of different heights and different colours. Hummingbirds appear to prefer red, orange or pink flowers, although they do not ignore flowers of other colours.

© Musée de la nature et des sciences de Sherbrooke 2007. All rights reserved.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)

Credit: Pete Doviende

© Pete Doviende


For those who wish to make it easier to observe hummingbirds, putting up a feeder is an undeniable asset. Most feeders have red bases that attract hummingbirds. Those with screening help keep away wasps. Models made from glass are more easily washed and stay transparent. Place the feeder in the shade or in a partially shaded location, near the house, so you can see them more easily. Hang the feeder in a spot where ants cannot get to it. Don't move it to another place, the hummingbirds will soon get used to it.
For those who wish to make it easier to observe hummingbirds, putting up a feeder is an undeniable asset. Most feeders have red bases that attract hummingbirds. Those with screening help keep away wasps. Models made from glass are more easily washed and stay transparent. Place the feeder in the shade or in a partially shaded location, near the house, so you can see them more easily. Hang the feeder in a spot where ants cannot get to it. Don't move it to another place, the hummingbirds will soon get used to it.

© Musée de la nature et des sciences de Sherbrooke 2007. All rights reserved.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

Credit: Andy Zeltkalns

© Andy Zeltkalns


Ornithologists agree that the best recipe for nectar is made from one part sugar to four parts hot water boiled for several minutes beforehand. The sugar must not be boiled to avoid creating a by-product. Adding red colouring is to be avoided. If you make a sweeter mixture, the hummingbirds will visit the feeder less often. If you make it less sweet, they will be less keen on it. There is no point in getting large feeders, since you have to change the contents weekly. If you notice that the mixture gets cloudy or becomes less clear, it’s due to fermentation - definitely time to change the liquid and clean the feeder.

To view hummingbirds drinking from a feeder, follow this link.
Ornithologists agree that the best recipe for nectar is made from one part sugar to four parts hot water boiled for several minutes beforehand. The sugar must not be boiled to avoid creating a by-product. Adding red colouring is to be avoided. If you make a sweeter mixture, the hummingbirds will visit the feeder less often. If you make it less sweet, they will be less keen on it. There is no point in getting large feeders, since you have to change the contents weekly. If you notice that the mixture gets cloudy or becomes less clear, it’s due to fermentation - definitely time to change the liquid and clean the feeder.

To view hummingbirds drinking from a feeder, follow this link.

© Musée de la nature et des sciences de Sherbrooke 2007. All rights reserved.

Hummingbirds have to eat several times an hour. This feeding schedule requires long digestion periods. Thus, hummingbirds spend nearly 70% of the day perched, apparently doing very little; they're digesting. In landscaping, you should create places where they can perch. Many shrubs allow them to both perch and feed. In Canada, hummingbirds prefer flowering shrubs such as honeysuckle, weigelas, lilacs, crabapple trees, rose bushes, currant bushes, snowberries and vines. You may also see them on any small tree branch. Check out trees with woodpecker holes; hummingbirds sometimes feed at these locations. Keep an eye on fences and clotheslines, but forget about looking on the ground, hummingbirds don't know how to walk!
Hummingbirds have to eat several times an hour. This feeding schedule requires long digestion periods. Thus, hummingbirds spend nearly 70% of the day perched, apparently doing very little; they're digesting. In landscaping, you should create places where they can perch. Many shrubs allow them to both perch and feed. In Canada, hummingbirds prefer flowering shrubs such as honeysuckle, weigelas, lilacs, crabapple trees, rose bushes, currant bushes, snowberries and vines. You may also see them on any small tree branch. Check out trees with woodpecker holes; hummingbirds sometimes feed at these locations. Keep an eye on fences and clotheslines, but forget about looking on the ground, hummingbirds don't know how to walk!

© Musée de la nature et des sciences de Sherbrooke 2007. All rights reserved.

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus)

Credit: Scott Page

© Scott Page


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • demonstrate the capacity to prepare a mixture to attract hummingbirds;
  • illustrate a few ways to attract hummingbirds.

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