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Beginners Guide to Hummingbirds

Updated on September 4, 2014
Ruby Red Throated Hummingbird
Ruby Red Throated Hummingbird | Source
Hummingbird in a Georgia Garden
Hummingbird in a Georgia Garden | Source

A Beginners Guide to Hummingbirds

I’ve always enjoyed birds, but while raising a family and moving for promotions, keeping up bird feeders involved too much time and money. Being an empty nester, I feel it’s time to relax and find hobbies and interests that have been on the back burner for years.

My interest in hummingbirds returned a few years ago in another state. Since that time, I’ve talked to friends and read articles which gave me helpful hints. I want to expand my garden next summer, so I’ve taken my casual knowledge, attended lectures, and did some research on my own.

Just seeing the small birds buzz the yard and stop at a feeder for a quick drip reminds us of the wonders of nature. Seeing beauty in such a small package is almost like opening a small present that nature has offered us. From White-eared to Blue-throated hummingbirds a sighting can be breath-taking.

I am a beginner, and the volumes that have been written about hummingbirds overwhelm me. If you are just beginning to enjoy hummingbirds in your back yard, this might help you get started. Advanced hummingbird enthusiasts will know everything here and hopefully will share information with you as hummingbirds come and questions arise.

General Bird Information

  • The males are smaller and usually arrive earliest in the season.
  • The males are the most colorful.
  • Hummingbirds can migrate a thousand miles from Alaska to Chile
  • Place your feeders out a few weeks before you expect the Hummingbirds back in your area.
  • There will be more traffic Mid-August through Mid-September before migration.
  • Hummingbirds are the smallest warm-blooded species.
  • Some experts say they haven’t seen a large number of banded birds return to the same area, but many enthusiast have seen the same birds return year after year.
  • Hummingbirds may build their own nest or borrow old ones.
  • The Ruby-throated variety appears frequently in the Southern Regions of the United States, but there are beautiful varieties in different areas, and the Southern American species are breathtaking.
  • These birds are very aggressive,and have even been seen fighting with large bees over a blossom.
  • Hummingbirds hunts small bugs for their source of protein.
  • There are more than 300 species of hummingbird, and they live in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Hummingbirds were killed for their feathers in the past.

Plants that will attract the Hummingbirds

There are many varieties of flowers and vines that can be used to attract hummingbirds. Some are perennials and others annuals.

· Honeysuckle, especially the red and coral variety, attract hummingbirds. Most trumpet-type flowers also attract hummingbirds.

  • · The different varieties of Salvia are worth investigating. The salvias have both the perennial and annual varieties.
  • · Pink varieties of Sages will work also.

Hummingbirds are not attracted by smell, so the type and color play the most important part in attracting hummingbirds.

Perennials and Annuals

 One variety of Salvia
One variety of Salvia
Stir sugar water until dissolved.
Stir sugar water until dissolved.
Cool completely before loading the feeder
Cool completely before loading the feeder


Feeding Habits

  • Having multiple feeders is a great way to attract large numbers of birds.
  • Hummingbirds' hearts beat quickly, and they appear to fly continually.
  • Recently, I have had them rest on the rod iron stand where I hang my feeder, and have be able to observe them in trees. The time span for this activity is still short.
  • I saw multiple species in Arizona and the hummingbirds appeared there would stand on the metal base ring that some feeders have, and look like a good choice for future feeders.

Make your own simple syrup (WITHOUT THE RED COLORING). There are a number of recipes for simple syrup, but 2 cups of water to one cup of sugar is the one I have heard most. I’ve read that some experts use 5 cups of water to one cup of sugar. There is no need to buy syrup, unless you are just willing to pay for the syrup, and often it is hard to find syrup without the coloring. The coloring does nothing for the Hummingbirds.

Currently, I have been experimenting with the simple syrup recipe. I have found if there is more sugar than water - two cups of sugar to one of water, I have more hummingbird activity. In fact, since I have change the mixture, I have had different varieties of hummingbirds. Until recently, I haven't seen many colorful hummingbirds. Now I have birds with yellow neck rings and small red "caps." I have also noticed a larger variety of sizes of hummingbirds coming to the yard.

  • The syrup will attract ants. Feed stores now sell attachments to keep the ants out. If you are a DIY type you can design your own pan with water and keep them out (I haven’t graduated to that yet).
  • Living plants are a great way to attract the Hummingbirds.
  • Hummingbirds are attracted to running water such as you might find in a bird bath that has running water.
  • Planting their favorite species in your garden is a great idea, but putting separate plants into pots around your porch or patio will give you a chance to see them up close.

If you are a beginner taking pictures of the small, active birds may not be the first step, but something you can work up to. A good camera with a good zoom lens is an item to research. Some people will build a blind while others will find a comfortable chair under an umbrella and do just fine. Those with photography experience will certainly want to try to capture the small visitors to potted plants.


Feeders come in all shapes and sizes and can be made at home. They should be kept clean and scrubbed to prohibit the growth of mold. In hot weather, feeders should be changed about every 3 days. If there has been several cooler days the syrup may not have to be changed as often.

Changes in Weather

This past winter we had the worse weather in years, as I know many areas of the country did. We didn't see but one hummingbird in the Spring. I continued to fix my syrup and hope for the best. There was no activity. I gave up one week in August and decided I was spending too much time and money. I didn't know why we hadn't see any hummingbirds, but our neighbors hadn't either. The day after I took my pot in, I looked out the window to see a hummingbird flying around a hanging basket I had.

I hurried to clean the feeder, made more syrup and put the feeder back. We have had one to two hummingbirds everyday since. I wonder if the later summer and bad winter contributed to their returning, but either way we are glad to have them back.

Hummingbird Sightings

How many different varieties of hummingbirds have you seen this year?

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How many feeders do you presently have?

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    • Ky Cardinal profile image

      Vicki 6 years ago from Louisville, Ky

      Thanks for the feedback. I agree that Hummingbirds are beautiful. I have been searching for good pictures that are not proprietary. I haven't taken any worth sharing yet, but hoping to try a few more times before it gets too cool. Look for pictures of some of the species in South America. They are beautiful.

    • Lyn.Stewart profile image

      Lyn.Stewart 6 years ago from Auckland, New Zealand

      voted up and iteresting ...great hub thanks

    • tsadjatko profile image

      TSAD 6 years ago from https:// online/ hubpages. html

      Great hub! hummingbirds are so beautiful, why don't you add some pics and or videos. I feed humming birds every summer but never get more than 2 or three coming while I've seen others on the internet draw many more. How do they do that?