Why Won't Hummingbirds Come to My Feeder?

If hummingbirds are in your area, they'll more than likely visit a feeder you put out for them -- as long as they can find it. If they aren't visiting your feeder, it may be that they haven't noticed it yet, or that the nectar blend you've offered isn't ideal. Attract hummingbirds by altering the location of the feeder and by using a basic sugar water solution that provides much-needed calories for them. If you don't notice hummingbirds right away, be patient -- sometimes they are nesting or have plenty of flower nectar to feed on, in which case a feeder is not the top destination on their list.

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Red catches a hummingbird's attention.

Location, Location, Location

Hummingbirds won't visit a feeder if they don't know where to find it. If you know hummingbirds are in the area but they don't seem to be visiting your feeder, move the feeder to an area near flowering plants, or in an area where you've noticed hummingbird activity before. If you've never seen hummingbirds in your yard -- even though you know they're in the neighborhood -- and you have no flowers that may otherwise attract them, try hanging a basket of flowers nearby, such as from a ceiling hook on your porch or from a shepherd's hook plant stand. Ensure the selected location is out of the reach of cats. Keeping the feeder in the shade also helps the nectar stay fresh longer. Experiment by placing several hummingbird feeders in your yard in locations far from one another for yet another way to draw the birds to your yard. Spacing the feeders at opposite ends of the yard helps prevent aggressive male hummingbirds from claiming more than one feeder as their territory. However, you can also try placing several feeders in one grouping to attract more hummingbirds. In this situation, an aggressive male may be cured of his desire to hog all the feeders.

A Touch of Red

While hummingbirds visit and drink nectar from flowers and feeders of all colors, they're drawn to shades of red. Use a feeder that has a bit of red on it, such as fake red flowers. Tie a red ribbon on the feeder or its hanger to draw even more attention to it. Add another ribbon to a nearby tree or location where hummingbirds can spot it from afar. Do not use red food coloring in the nectar, however, as this may be harmful to hummingbirds.

Testing Different Feeders

Hummingbird feeders are sold in a variety of shapes and styles, so if the hummingbirds aren't visiting a feeder in your yard, it may be that they're not familiar with using that style of feeder. See if other feeders in the neighborhood attract hummingbirds and buy a similar feeder, or test two different styles at once, placing them apart from one another. Some hummingbirds favor one type of feeder over another, while others visit any feeder that has fresh nectar. Ultimately, an easy-to-clean feeder is an appropriate option to start with.

Tasty Homemade Hummingbird Nectar

Although hummingbirds favor natural flower-based nectar over homemade solutions, a blend of sugar and water serves as fuel for these frequent, frantic flyers. Mix 1 part white sugar with 4 parts water, and boil the solution for two minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugar completely. Once the solution cools, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will stay fresh for up to two weeks. Do not use honey, artificial sweeteners or other types of sugars, as they may be harmful to hummingbirds or may ferment. Fill the feeder half full of nectar and change the nectar every three to four days. During warm weather, the nectar may need to be changed more often to prevent mold. Wash the feeder out before changing the nectar each time by rinsing the feeder with hot water. Do not use harsh chemicals such as bleach, which may be harmful to hummingbirds.