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How To Create A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Habitat

Updated on January 12, 2015
Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird | Source
Hummingbird and Oriole at Feeder
Hummingbird and Oriole at Feeder | Source

As an avid bird watcher, and keen gardener, I decided to create a hummingbird habitat in my backyard to attract the ruby-throated hummingbird.

I was pleased to discover that it is relatively easy to attract hummingbirds to my garden, and endlessly satisfying to watch these amazing birds. They flit from plant to plant, seemingly defying gravity, as they hover to drink from the hummingbird feeders and nectar-rich hummingbird flowers.

In this article, How To Create A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Habitat, I will show you how to build a hummingbird habitat in your own backyard so that you too can experience the joy of watching ruby-throated hummingbirds, or whichever hummingbirds are native to your home. I will also give you some interesting hummingbird facts, the food recipe to make hummingbird nectar and lots of hummingbird pictures taken in my own backyard.

Hummingbirds are among the most fascinating birds that you’ll ever see. Unlike other birds, they can hover, move straight up and down and even fly backwards. They can be quite hard to spot initially and are often first detected by the rapid chipping sound that they make in flight, by the hum of their wings or even their shadow on the ground.

The ruby-throated hummingbird measures between 3 and 3 ¾ inches in length, and averages only 3.5 grams as an adult. It is only the mature male that has the namesake ruby-throat. The female and immature males have a white throat with variable thin dark streaking.

How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Immature Hummingbird on Rose of Sharon
Immature Hummingbird on Rose of Sharon | Source
Monarch butterfly on butterfly bush
Monarch butterfly on butterfly bush | Source
Hibiscus
Hibiscus | Source
Wiegela
Wiegela | Source

It is a lot easier than you might think to attract hummingbirds. At the minimum, a hummingbird feeder with a food recipe of refined sugar-water solution should be enough to attract some attention.

However, if you want to create a hummingbird habitat, the key elements that you need are:

  • A selection of nectar-rich flowers
  • One or more hummingbird feeders

Red or orange tubular flowers are a favorite source of food for hummingbirds, although they also eat tiny flying insects, such as mosquitoes, gnats and fruit flies, aphids and small spiders. To attract hummingbirds to your garden, you should plant nectar-rich flowers, shrubs and vines which have red, deep throated flowers and long bloomimg cycles. Some of the favorite hummingbird flowers and shrubs are:

  • Flowers: trumpet creeper, cardinal flower, honeysuckle, jewelweed, bee-balm, red buckeye, red morning glory, Canada lily, geranium, daylily, garden phlox and iris
  • Shrubs: flame azalea, lilac, pink azalea, winter jasmine, hibiscus, fuschia, weigela, sweet azalea, butterfly bush (buddleia) and Rose of Sharon

Tips on How to Choose a Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbird at glass feeder
Hummingbird at glass feeder | Source
Female Baltimore Oriole at hummingbird feeder
Female Baltimore Oriole at hummingbird feeder | Source
Oriole at feeder
Oriole at feeder | Source

You should supplement your plants with suspended hummingbird feeders which are designed with red parts to attract the notice of hummingbirds. It is easy to make hummingbird nectar and i will tell you the hummingbird food recipe below.

The two most important issues to consider in selecting hummingbird feeders are how easy they are to take apart and clean, and how large they are.

Feeders can be either glass or plastic. Personally I prefer the glass type because they are generally easier to clean. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned regularly (every 3 to 4 days) to prevent the buildup of bacteria. Caution: I have found that the plastic feeders are prone to melt if the sugar solution is still hot when filling the feeder.

The best-sized feeders are those that are emptied every day or two by the hummingbirds. In this regard, and because hummingbirds are strongly territorial and tend to fight, it is better to have several small feeders rather than one large feeder.


How to Make Hummingbird Nectar for Your Hummingbird Feeder

You can make hummingbird food by preparing a safe and sterile sugar-water solution using the following simple recipe:

  • Boil: Add one part refined white sugar to four parts boiling water.
  • Stir: Mix until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Cool: Cover the solution and allow it to cool
  • Clean: Wash your feeder with soap and hot water. Rinse thoroughly

Use refined sugar-water solution as a substitute for flower nectar. Avoid using brown sugar or honey as these have impurities that foster bacterial growth and can cause fatal diseases in hummingbirds.

Don’t use red dye food coloring, it is unnecessary and potentially harmful to the hummingbirds. This year, for the first time, I stopped using red coloring and put out my feeders much earlier than usual (April instead of June). I was amazed how quickly the hummingbirds found the feeders and started to visit my garden. And the absence of red coloring didn’t make any difference at all.

Two hummingbirds at planter
Two hummingbirds at planter | Source
Young Hummingbird
Young Hummingbird | Source

Interesting Hummingbird Facts

  • The Ruby-throated Hummingbird beats its wings about 53 times a second.
  • The very short legs of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird prevent it from walking or hopping, although it can shuffle along a perch. However, it can scratch its head and neck by raising its foot up over its wing.
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbirds prefer to feed on red or orange flowers. Like many birds, they have good color vision and, unlike humans, can see into the ultraviolet spectrum
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbirds normally place their nest on a tree branch however they have been known to nest on loops of chain, wire, and extension cords.
  • The ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only hummingbird that breeds east of the Mississippi River and it occupies the largest breeding range of any hummingbird in North America.
  • Hummingbird Migration: Hummingbirds migrate thousands of miles annually, their movements typically coinciding with the blooming of their preferred flowers, and most migrate across the Gulf of Mexico to winter in Central America.
  • The oldest known Ruby-throated Hummingbird was 9 years 1 month old.
  • It is believed Hummingbirds have a feeding range of up to one square mile, and this is supported by the observation that they visit my garden frequently but clearly move on to other gardens in a defined pattern. At one stage, we could almost guarantee that our first visit of the day would be at 9:10 a.m., as regular as clockwork!

Hummingbird Feeders Can Attract Other Visitors!

Raccoon visiting the Hummingbird Feeder!
Raccoon visiting the Hummingbird Feeder! | Source
Raccoon imitating a hummingbird!
Raccoon imitating a hummingbird! | Source

As you can see from these pictures, the hummingbird feeders attract other birds, such as Baltimore Orioles, as well as animals, such as raccoons.

Now that you know How to Create a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Habitat, I encourage you to give it a try - it is very rewarding!

For me, attracting wildlife, whether it is birds, animals or butterflies, gives me a source of endless pleasure. I hope that this article will inspire you to buy a hummingbird feeder, make hummingbird nectar and set up your own ruby-throated hummingbird habitat in your garden! Let me know how it goes!

You might also be interested in these other bird-related items:

Thanks for visiting.

Happy bird watching!

Geoff

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    • Lenzy profile image

      Lenzy 5 years ago from Arlington, Texas

      I really enjoyed your article. As an avid birdwatcher, I think you did a great job talking about the habitat needed to attract the ruby throated hummingbird. Thanks. Lenzy

    • Austin Jose profile image

      Austin Jose 5 years ago from Cochin

      This is a very interesting article! Well put together!

      Voted up!

    • profile image

      BirdOculars 5 years ago

      Hi Geoff,

      Just thought I'd return the favor. That is, until I found this excellent article to get me ready for hummingbird season. Good work!

      Jeff

    • sportgames profile image

      sportgames 5 years ago from Ashter Street 14, New Yok

      Great article, super informative and I must say I really learned a thing or two. Plus, you got me curious and now I want to try to build a hummingbird habitat myself! Thanks for the inspiration.

    • geoffclarke profile image
      Author

      geoffclarke 5 years ago from Canada

      Thanks to all for your kind comments.

      Lenzy, I look forward to reading your future hubs about bird watching.

      Jeff, glad you could stop by.

      Sportgames, good luck attracting hummingbirds - I'd start with a feeder or two, and a butterfly bush. Let me know how it goes.

      Geoff

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Voted up and awesome. I am very familiar with these birds. When I sat on the door stoop in Maine, a hummer or two would usually hover in my face before stopping at the feeder. I recall a hummer having a battle with a hummingbird moth. Unfortunately, the moth chased the bird away.

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