Hummingbird Food

Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Michigan Lily - Ontario, Canada

Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Michigan Lily – Ontario, Canada

Hummingbird food: There’s more than one way to attract hummingbirds.

Many people would agree that hummingbirds are one of the loveliest types of birds to attract to your home. But as you probably already know, they do not eat seed like most other birds do.

There are different ways you can feed hummingbirds without having to buy hummingbird food that may contain chemicals and harmful dyes:  plant the right kinds of flowers in your garden or making your own hummingbird nectar.

Attracting Hummingbirds With Flowers

If you’ve got a green thumb and want to attract them with a hummingbird garden, then some of the best flowers to plant are:

  • honeysuckle
  • clematis
  • impatiens
  • phlox
  • bee balm
  • fuchsias

This is lovely if you spend a lot of time near the garden, but many prefer to see them in plain sight near a window. If you would like to do this instead of or in addition to planting a hummingbird garden, then you can either purchase the nectar for your bright feeder, or you can make it yourself.

Hummingbird Food Recipe:

1 part sugar
4 parts water

Instructions:

  1. Bring the water to a boil
  2. Slowly add the sugar
  3. Let it boil for a few minutes
  4. Remove from the burner to cool

Store any excess nectar in the refrigerator.

Don’t try to get fancy and over-complicate the recipe, food coloring is not good for the birds. Do not add other sweeteners, either, just use plain sugar, honey will ferment and artificial sweeteners have no nutritional content and may be bad for the birds as well.

If you are using a feeder, make sure you wash it and replenish with fresh hummingbird nectar every few days to prevent spoilage and mold. If you create the right conditions, you’re likely to create a beautiful hummingbird haven

Hummingbird Feeders

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird At Feeder

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird At Feeder

Hummingbirds get their sustenance from spiders and other small bugs, but they get their fuel to catch those bugs from nectar. You can provide this nectar to hummingbirds by either planting a hummingbird garden, or by placing a hummingbird feeder in your yard. Feeders are obviously a much simpler way of attracting hummingbirds, and you can also place them in front of a window to watch or photograph.

Which kind of feeder?

There are two basic shapes of feeders, one is the inverted bottle shape, and the other is the basin shape. Either one will do just fine for feeding, but the basin one is usually easier to clean. And it’s very important to clean your feeder every few days.

Another thing to consider is whether or not to get a feeder with a perch. It takes a lot of energy, and in turn burns lots of calories, for a hummingbird to suspend itself while eating. Also, if you get a perch, your visitor is likely to stick around much longer, hummingbirds actually spend 80% of their time perching so they’re likely t enjoy the break.

Where to place a feeder

Placing one near a garden might be the quickest way to attract hummingbirds, but they’re likely to show up anyway if you place them in a different location. Some caution against placing them near a window, for fear that the bird might crash into the glass, but you can remedy this by having blinds or curtains behind the window, or by placing a decoration somewhere right outside of the window.

If you really want to keep the birds around, you might even place something that will attract bugs, like overripe fruit, near the feeder. This way the bird can get fuel as well as nourishment.

A Different Feeder for Different Species

Male Cardinal sitting on bird feeder

Male Cardinal sitting on bird feeder

If you want to make your yard into a bird sanctuary, or would just like a few aviary visitors to watch from your window, one of the best things you can do is place a feeder in your yard.

But which kind do you want to get? Well, that depends on which types of birds you want to attract. Here is a list of birds and the feeders they’re most likely to flock to:

Blue Jays – They prefer feeders on raised poles. Metal poles will help keep squirrels and other unwanted visitors out of the food, as opposed to wooden ones or feeders in trees.

Chickadees – These birds prefer seeds to suet, and they will eat from ground feeders, raised feeders, and hanging feeders.

Cardinals – These bright beauties prefer seed from hanging or raised feeders. They will eat suet from hanging feeders if seed is mixed in.

Doves – Typically only eat from ground feeders.

Finches – They prefer seeds from raised or hanging feeders.

Grackles – These will eat from ground or raised feeders.

Hummingbirds – These are attracted to bright red, hanging feeders filled with nectar. If you get a hummingbird feeder, look at our hummingbird food section for a nectar recipes and tips. It’s important to care for your feeder as well as to add only pure nectar to it. Additives like honey can ferment and kill the birds and coloring may make them sick.

Juncos – These will eat from ground or raised feeders.

Mockingbirds – Only eat from raised feeders.

Sparrows – These will eat from ground or raised feeders.

Woodpeckers – These will eat from ground feeders, raised ones, and suet from hanging ones.

Wrens – Only eat from raised feeders.

Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers – These will eat from raised ones and will eat suet from hanging ones.

Bluebird Houses

Butterfly Breakfast

Butterfly Breakfast

Bluebird of friendliness, like guardian angels it’s always there… make a little birdhouse in your soul.
-They Might Be Giants

Bluebirds are some of the most loved birds around. You can have them living in your yard by simply placing a bluebird house in a good spot. You can watch them nest and you may even get to see baby bluebirds learn to fly.

Many of these thrush birds have lost their homes over the years due to reforestation, and because of this, people have been putting up more and more homes for these bright blue birds. They prefer enclosed spaces, and naturally make their homes in tree cavities. Most bluebird homes simply look like little houses on a pole, with a perch and at least one hole for entering.

You can put up a house during any time of the year, but autumn might be the best time, because it will give them a place to settle before winter comes. Also, they are early nesters, sometimes nesting as early as February.

When placing their house in your yard, make sure it faces an open area; bluebirds prefer open spaces. Make sure to check your house every now and then to make sure no other birds like sparrows have moved in. Once you have set it up in the proper place, the bluebirds are likely to come and make a home in your home.

Bird Houses

birdhousesBird houses add charm, whimsy, and beauty as well as a place for birds to nest.  It is no wonder that the bird house and bird feeder industry is growing.  There are safety factors to consider when buying or building a bird house.  There are some birds that will use a bird house and others that are not attracted to them.  One of the best ways to find out what birds in your region are attracted to bird houses is to check with your local Audubon Society chapter.

Types of Bird Houses

The type of bird house you will use depends on the type of bird or birds that you want to attract to your home.  Bird houses come in many shapes, sizes, colors and materials.  One of the best type of bird house is the wooden one.  There are several reasons to chose this type of bird house.  Wooden bird houses can breath for ventilation, are durable and has a good insulation quality to them.  Gourds are another good material for bird houses.  They are functional, breathable, and pretty as well.  Properly designed pottery, concrete, and plastic houses will breathe and are also durable. When choosing the bird house that you will use for your feathered friends always check for proper ventilation, drainage, and easy access for maintenance and monitoring.  When considering the type of bird house that you want  another thing to think about are safety and maintenance.

Safety and Proper Maintenance

Items to consider once you have chosen the type of bird house that you want are ventilation,  drainage, ease of access for maintenance and protection from predators.

You should also make sure that no harmful chemicals where used on the materials used for the building of your bird house.  You would not want your new friends to become sick.  Part of proper maintenance of your new bird house is to check them for unwanted critters, such as fleas, wasp, or flies.  Sometimes mice and others will want to take up residence in your bird house. The main thing to remember if this happens is to remove the them.  If insects are the problem, use only pesticides that are not harmful to your feathered friends.  “If wasps are a problem, coat the inside top of the box with bar soap.(US Fish & Wildlife Service “Homes for Birds,” )  One of the problems that you may encounter while cleaning the nest and parasites or insects are present, baby birds may also be present.  If one of the baby birds gets out of the nest you can pick it up and put it back where it was.  Birds have a lousy sense of smell and they will not reject the babies because you helped them.

Don’t let the care and safety be a deterrent in deciding whether you want a bird house or not.  The upkeep and maintenance is part of the joy and can be a wonderful way to learn more about your new birds. You will quickly become a backyard birder with your new bird house or houses. The joy of watching beautiful bird is an immeasurable pleasure.