How to Attract Hummingbirds to a Feeder

Mixing several of a hummingbird's favorite things in your garden helps attract the interesting birds to your feeder. Simply setting out a feeder filled with sugar water doesn't always bring a slew of hummingbirds, but pairing the feeder with red ribbons, misting water and nectar-producing plants should do the trick.

Seeing Red

Red seems to be a favorite color among hummingbirds, and it often helps bring them to the feeder. Many feeders offer built-in red accents so they are easy for the birds to spot. Tying a red ribbon to the feeder adds more punch; the birds see the fluttering ribbon ends and want to investigate. Adding ribbons to nearby areas such as tree limb ends and fence posts also helps grab hummingbirds' attention.

Timing Placement

Hummingbirds tend to migrate south for the winter and fly back into the United States as the weather begins to warm. Check with a local cooperative extension service or a bird watcher's group to find out when hummingbirds are expected in your area -- in southern parts of the country, it could be as early as late January or early February, while northern regions might not see hummingbirds until May. Placing feeders out five to 10 days before you expect hummingbirds gives the birds a better chance of finding the feeders.

Bathing Beauties

Hummingbirds like to clean themselves several times a day, so adding a water source near the feeder helps attract them. They prefer misting water over a standard birdbath. Purchase a gentle mister that connects to a garden hose and place it near the feeder. Or add a waterfall feature, which often creates a bit of mist naturally.

Planting Strategically

Choosing hummingbird-friendly plants means the birds should seek out your yard as a food source and be pleasantly surprised to find the handy feeder. Many of these plants also attract butterflies as an added benefit. Try flowers such as daylilies (Hemerocallis), which thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 10, depending on the variety, or flowering shrubs such as azaleas (Rhododendron), which grow in USDA zones 4 through 9. Climbing vines make it easy for hummingbirds to hover and feed, so plants such as clematis (Clematis), which grows in USDA zones 4 through 9, depending on the variety, are likely to bring the birds to your garden.

Making Nectar

Using the right combination of ingredients means hummingbirds that find your feeder are likely to return. Mix 4 parts hot water with 1 part sugar, letting it cool completely before adding it to the feeder.