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Encourage Hummingbirds to Frequent Your Yard

Updated on August 28, 2013


Having hummingbirds whizzing around your backyard can be a delightful experience and add serenity and awe to your outdoor living space. There are many aspects to keep in mind when trying to both attract and keep hummingbirds in your backyard such as nectar choices, feeders, and even plants.

Organic Hummingbird Nectar

A Cedar Works Sipper Hummingbird Feeder that I hung in my front patio area.
A Cedar Works Sipper Hummingbird Feeder that I hung in my front patio area. | Source

Homemade Nectar

I prefer to make my hummingbirds’ nectar from scratch so that my buzzing backyard visitors are feeding on a substance that is as close as possible to nectar from a flower. Thanks to my mother, I have learned a great recipe that hummingbirds love. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • Glass hummingbird feeder
  • Warm water
  • Natural or organic raw sugar
  • Large container with cap or lid
  • Long stirring stick or spoon

Your water and raw sugar mixture should be one part water and half raw sugar. So, for a gallon’s worth of homemade nectar, stir together one gallon of warm water with a half gallon of raw sugar. Let the nectar concoction sit in the fridge for an hour before pouring it into the feeder to serve to the hummingbirds.

When attempting to attract hummingbirds into your yard for the first time, start off with a sample size of nectar such as no more than 8 to 12 ounces. It takes time for hummingbirds to find food; starting with a small amount of nectar in your hummingbird feeder will prevent from wasting.

This also means that for the first feeding supply, do not fill up your hummingbird feeder all the way. Start with filling up the feeder halfway or even a quarter of the way so that the nectar does not go to waste.

If you don’t already have hummingbirds buzzing by your backyard, you may want to add red dye to your nectar concoction the first time only. Just one drop will do. I believe it is best not to use dye at all; however, the first time to get hummingbirds to notice the feeder can be helpful. A more natural option would be to hang a colorful plant with red or pink flowers next to the feeder instead.

Also keep in mind that like most foods and beverages, nectar can go bad. Be sure to throw out any nectar outdoors in your hummingbird feeder after 3 to 4 days. Be sure to thoroughly clean and rinse your feeder each time you or the hummingbirds empty the nectar. If the nectar becomes rancid, you may end up becoming a hummingbird serial killer rather than a nurturer. Any nectar you make in advance to store in your refrigerator should not go past a couple of weeks.

Attraction With Plants

Various types of plants attract hummingbirds due to their vibrant color and tasty nectar. Adding these plants to your yard allow your hummingbird to have more than one choice for food. This way, if you run out of nectar while out of town or simply because you forgot, there will always be a backup supply of food in the yard that will keep your hummingbirds loyal to using your backyard for food. Additionally, providing certain plants for your hummingbirds also gives them access to the most natural and sustainable food choice.

Even if there isn't space or the water supply to plant these attractions in your yard, you can always hang plants on your house, plant hanger, arbor and many other places, similarly to how you would hang the hummingbird feeder itself.

Below are some great plant choices that are most commonly used for attracting hummingbirds:

  • Fuchsia
  • Butterfly Bush
  • Foxglove
  • Honeysuckle
  • Texas Sage

Be sure you know your zone so that you select plants that will thrive in the climate in which you live. Your local nursery will usually only carry plants that are part of your zone.

Also, consider finding natural ways to care for your plants such as lady bugs and praying mantis. Using pesticides on plants that hummingbirds use for food can become a danger to the bird.

Plants That Attract Hummingbirds

Attracting Hummingbirds in My Yard

One of many shrubs in the yard that hummingbirds frequent throughout the day.
One of many shrubs in the yard that hummingbirds frequent throughout the day.

Product Choices

After trying different feeders, I have found the best to use are glass hummingbird feeders. They are easier to clean and are much sturdier as long as they don’t fall and break. My favorite hummingbird feeder is the Cedar Works Sipper Hummingbird Feeder which can be found at Home Depot or

I prefer to use O Organics Evaporated Cane Juice Sugar to make the nectar. You can find similar products like Sugar in the Raw at fine grocery retailers such as Safeway and Whole Foods. Or, buy it online at

Feeding Hummingbirds

What do you feed the hummingbirds in your yard?

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Minimize Deterrents

Although hummingbirds are small and quick, like most birds, they prefer a safe and quiet environment to perch and feed. With this in mind, take care to where you place feeders in the yard. Directions on the back of most hummingbird feeders will suggest hanging a feeder at least 5 feet off the ground.

If you have outdoor cats or if there are many prowling around the neighborhood, avoid using feeders that are made to stand in low-lying flower pots. I come from experience on using these several years back and it resulted in my cat taking the life of a poor hummingbird trying to feed at only a couple feet off the ground.

Even when using hummingbird feeders that can be hung 5 feet or higher from the ground, select a place that will make the hummingbird feel like it is in its natural habitat, such as a shady tree, arbor, or plant hanger. This should be a space that is away from playing children or a dog’s territory.

As you attract hummingbirds to your yard with nectar in a hummingbird feeder, you will likely invite wasps and yellow jackets as well. As you gather all the necessary items for your swift flying friends, make sure to stock up on wasp catchers. Consider a reusable trap to avoid wasting money.


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    • mbusley profile image

      Mekia Busley 3 years ago from Bay Area

      That is a very good point. I've heard (and my mother has done this for years for her hummingbirds) that raw sugar is closest to nectar. I also don't see how refined sugar, especially with food coloring can be good for the birds. If I ever run into a bird specialist (maybe next time I go to the zoo), I will definitely ask. Or maybe a veterinarian will be able to explain...

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      I am a bit confused. Several websites claim that raw sugar shouldn't be used because it has high iron content, and that white sugar is the way to go. I read though several people who have used raw for many years..but perhaps they cannot track any long term effects of iron accumulation on the birds. I still find it hard to believe though that raw sugar is not good, when white sugar, or that red colored drink sold by stores can be any better.

    • Francesca27 profile image

      Francesca27 4 years ago from Hub Page

      Love those humming birds that visit our yard. Glad you gave me more info for feeding them.