A variety of wildlife species become regular visitors to suburban and rural backyards during the summer including bats, birds, rabbits and deer. Ruby-throated hummingbirds, Indiana’s only species of hummingbird, are one of the most cherished wildlife visitors in my backyard. Enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning while reading the paper is a favorite weekend ritual of mine. “My” pair of hummingbirds share in this experience throughout the summer months. With chirping and wings beating 50 times per second, they zip back and forth from the feeder to perch on nearby trees before flying off in the distance only to return a short time later. I almost feel guilty when dinner on the patio or a friendly game of wiffle ball interrupts their feeding schedule.
Nectar is an essential part of the hummingbird’s diet. One of the easiest ways you can attract hummingbirds to your yard is to provide nectar feeders. Even if you have a lot of plants in your yard that already produce flowers, a nectar feeder can provide a focal point to view and enjoy hummingbirds. Here are some helpful feeder tips to consider:
- For the “nectar”, boil (do not microwave) for 2 minutes four parts water with one part sugar. Do not add honey, artificial sweeteners or food coloring.
- Drain feeders and fill with new sugar solution every 3 to 4 days. This is especially important with hot summer weather. Extra solution can be stored in the refrigerator for extended periods.
- Clean the feeder every other feeding with soapy water, rinsed with vinegar, and then rinsed with water.
- Red feeders are more attractive to hummingbirds; yellow is more attractive to insects.
- Place feeders in shady open areas.Direct sun will increase the rate of fermentation and spoiling of the sugar solution.
- If you observe dominate males excluding other hummingbirds you may benefit from extra feeders. Space multiple feeders 10-15 feet apart.
The final step is to enjoy! Keep your feeders out through October to provide food for migrating hummingbirds. Leaving feeders out will not alter their natural migration south. For more information and tips on hummingbird habitat in the backyard, see “Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard.”