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Humming Birds in My Yard

Updated on September 18, 2015

Hummingbird at feeder

Humming bird at the feeder
Humming bird at the feeder

Buying a hummingbird feeder

About five years ago we decided to buy a humming bird feeder. We had other bird feeders including a nyger feeder for finches but had never had a humming bird feeder. After a little research we found that if you had a feeder with a perch the hummers would actually sit on the perch, so that's what we got. We also learned they are attracted to red, so a feeder with red on top would attract the hummers. We started with one feeder the first year, a nice bright red. Actually they are so fond of the color red we had a hummer try to land on a painting we had on a shovel because of it's bright red color!

So, remember, a feeder with perches and the color red will attract the hummers to your yard.

Humming birds

The King on his perch as he guards his feeder (sitting on the wire in the right of the photo)
The King on his perch as he guards his feeder (sitting on the wire in the right of the photo)
A female resting while the King's away.
A female resting while the King's away.

Here come the hummers

It took about two weeks before we sited our first hummer. Timid and quick to leave, but we had a hummer. By the third week our hummer had taken possession of the feeder. We named him the King because he was in charge. We knew he was a male because he had a red throat. Ruby throated hummingbirds (found in NY) have shiny/metallic green feathers. Males have red throats and females greyish white throats. It isn't actually a "red throat" but a band of red around the neck. The King wouldn't let any other hummers on his feeder. The minute another hummer came near the King's feeder, he'd chase them away. He sat on a perch in our small metal arbor and watched to make sure no one ate his food and if anyone dared to come near his feeder he'd chase them away time and again. Even though there are eight feeding holes around the feeder, that feeder belonged to the King. Hummingbirds are very territorial and protective of their food, particularly the males and they will fight to the death to protect what they believe is theirs. The King would chase other hummers right out of our yard, flying after them and chirping at them. The sound he makes is a kind of chip chirping sound, often heard as he flies overhead chasing other hummers. Occasionally when the King wasn't around, another hummer would manage to get some food out of our feeder. We never used prepared food in our feeder, only sugar water - one part sugar to four parts water, works like a charm. Of course red flowers attract hummingbirds to your yard as well. They like bee balm, hollyhock, impatiens and more. They are attracted by the red color and the ability to get nectar, not by the scent because they don't have a keen sense of smell.

The King left around mid-August. We left the feeder out for a few more weeks in case any stragglers happened by. Hummers travel alone unlike other birds and one leaving doesn't mean they've all gone. When they migrate the male usually leaves first. Most hummers from New York migrate to Northern Mexico or Central America. They can fly 500 miles non-stop! I read somewhere they often hitch rides on large ships headed their way.

Humming bird protecting his feeder

Male hummers at the feeder

A male hummer resting on a feeder
A male hummer resting on a feeder
The male hummer getting a drink
The male hummer getting a drink

Year Two of the Hummers

Considering ourselves experienced hummer feeders we decided to buy a second feeder. It only made sense if we had two feeders we'd have two hummers. We patiently waited to see how many would visit our backyard. Much to our surprise in late April the first to arrive was the King! Yes, hummers return to their source of food every year AND their offspring return as well. Many humming birds die after their first year but those that manage to survive have a lifespan of 4 to 5 years.

So, the King was back, sitting on his arbor perch guarding his feeder. Other hummers still tried to eat from the King's feeder but the King was vigilant, chasing all comers away. After about two weeks other hummers found our second feeder, placed across the yard on our shed with a clothesline nearby. We named the first visitor there, Flutter. She would sit on the clothesline but never on the feeder. Whenever she ate she would flutter near the feeder without perching. We didn't see her perch once the entire summer.

By mid-summer we had four hummers battling for two feeders, never sharing. It was an even mix with two males and two females. Their favorite time to feed was dusk. We could sit in the yard and watch them fly over our heads, fly over our house, and come back time and again to eat. Oh, there were fights. The King still kept everyone away with a vengeance. We often watched as they met to fight and chitter chattered in the air chasing each other all over the yard and far into the distance. Hummers can change direction in mid-flight and fly in all directions. Hummers wings can beat as fast as 80 beats per second and some smaller hummers faster than that. Amazing. Flutter chased other hummers too but she spent more time in the cedar tree and didn't dive bomb them when they sat at her feeder. They seemed to adapt to our presence and we could hear the hum of their wings as they sped past our heads. An exceptional moment for me was when I saw the King stick his tongue out to get nectar from a nearby hibiscus. We always thought they ate through their beaks but they actually eat with their tongue it was a site to remember. Actually I remember wondering what it was before I realized it was his tongue!

As mid-August drew near the hummers left one by one. Flutter was the last to go. It seems the shortening days and hormonal changes tell them when it's time to leave. Our hummers continue to visit each summer and we watch and listen to their magic with the same awe we had the first summer.

April 26, 2011 - the hummers are back. I was in the backyard and saw one fly by. I immediately went and got a feeder, filled it with the water and sugar mix and within ten minutes there was a hummer on the feeder. Not a minute later a second hummer showed up. Fighting ensued and the hummer that looked like the King or his offspring (babies will return to the area where they were born) chased the other hummer away. The King then came back to eat and when he had his fill he flew away. Two days later and there are hummers at the feeder day and night!

Humming birds at feeders

This is Flutter
This is Flutter
Here's the King
Here's the King
Humming bird perching as he eats.
Humming bird perching as he eats.

Hummers continue

Still the hummers come. I'm sure they're second generation or approaching third by this time. We have kept it to three feeders so we can keep a watchful eye on them. It is both a relaxing and exciting hobby to watch these beautiful little birds!

Female Humming bird

20011 - next generation come to visit.  This is a female as she doesn't have the red ring around her neck.
20011 - next generation come to visit. This is a female as she doesn't have the red ring around her neck.

Humming birds 2012

They return every year and this one is no different.  I took these pictures May 15, 2012.
They return every year and this one is no different. I took these pictures May 15, 2012.

I could put photos of these birds in my hub everyday! They are just so fascinating. Just keep the feeders clean and full and they'll come back year after year.

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

All photos are property of Tillsontitan
Both text and photos are my property, please do not take, use or duplicate.

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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Sounds like you had a very inviting set up for the birds. They love having a shade tree nearby. Thanks for stopping by Aufait, always good to see you.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Hummingbirds are so pretty and interesting to watch. Along with 2 other regular bird feeders, a feeder for finches, and piles of seeds on the ground for the squirrels to keep them off the feeders, we also had a feeder for humming birds. It sounded like an aviary in our backyard, our huge old American elm tree providing an umbrella some 50 feet in diameter for the works. Birds would stop in during their migrations for a quick bite to eat and a drink of water. I miss it.

      Lovely article. Voted up and BI.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      True poetryman. Their delicate beauty is something to behold.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 3 years ago

      Lovely birds. There is something to inviting more beauty into our lives.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      I think you're right Mary. I notice when it is very hot they are not around. If you have a good eye you can see them sitting high in a tree. They feed most often at dusk and seem to love the rain! Thank you for coming back and pinning and sharing, I do appreciate.

      I agree DealforaLiving, nature is full of such wonder and beauty. sorry you get lots of mosquitoes.

      Rebecca they seem to flock here and if I'm patient and stand still long enough they'll just ignore me.

      Thanks Bettyshares.

    • bettyshares profile image

      bettyshares 3 years ago from Lighthearted Musings

      Humming Birds are such lovely creatures.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Nice! I have only seen a hummingbird once or twice. I don't know how you got such great photos. The ones I saw were moving so fast I could hardly see them!

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      I wonder why more people don't spend time writing about natural beauty and friends in nature? It was so refreshing to read about your experience with hummingbirds, and I'm jealous! All I get are mosquitoes!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 3 years ago from Florida

      Hi, just came by for a reread about your lovely Hummingbirds! I'm still hoping to attract them, but they just don't come around where I live. Could be the heat, I guess. We were at 90 degrees yesterday.

      I'm Pinning this to my Bird board, and will share.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Have you asked your neighbors Mary? Maybe it's too hot for them. Here they come out in the early morning or evening so I'm thinking the sun is too much for them. Maybe someone can give us more information. Thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed my photos.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I miss the Hummingbirds! I never see them here in Florida. I have tried numerous ways to attract them, too. I used to see them often when I lived in Georgia.

      Love your photos!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Thank you moonlake. I'm jealous of your friends, we can get close hearing them buzz around us, but not eating out of our hands...yet ;)

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      I love hummingbirds we don't get many. We have friends that get so many they can put their hand out and the hummingbirds will land on them. Loved your photos voted up.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      I know SavvySongbird, I am still amazed too. They travel so far and yet know how to get back!

    • TheSavvySongbird profile image

      TheSavvySongbird 5 years ago

      It's amazing how they come back to the same spot every year. I love their names!

    • profile image

      debnapoli 6 years ago

      This was my first year with hummingbirds and i love them! My kids gave me a feeder for mothers day and then a friend gave me another. I loved to watch them and sure hope they come back next year. Thanks for the great info!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      Sorry elayne001, I was wrong. it seems Hawaii is the only state that does not have hummingbirds!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      Thanks all for your comments. Our hummers are like visiting relatives every summer. I didn't know about the nomination because I've been without a computer for two weeks. Viral issues. Elayne0011, if you feed them, they will come :)

    • elayne001 profile image

      Elayne 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      I just love hummingbirds. We have lots of birds and butterflies, but so far no hummingbirds. Not sure if they are around here. I will have to check. Thanks for the suggestions. Congrats on the nomination.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      I share your love of hummers and love the way you've named yours. Congratulatons on your nomination!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      So cute!

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. You can check your email for the announcement as well as read this hub! Enjoy the hummers and the hubnuggets this easter!

    • ladyjane1 profile image

      ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas

      Very nice.....cheers.