7 ways to attract hummingbirds to your yard

Hummingbird and lilac flower
Hummingbird and lilac flower (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Whether you’re a keen birdwatcher, or simply enjoy the beauty of colorful species, you might want to know ways to attract hummingbirds to your yard. 

Known for their vibrant colors of purples, greens, and blues, fast hovering and distinct humming noise, these tiny creatures (only weighing between 2 and 20 grams), are always a joy to watch. And if you want to see more hovering around, there are some ways to encourage hummingbirds to your yard, and make it a safe and inviting space.

Similar to knowing how to feed birds in winter, it’s useful to know the right type of food sources to provide hummingbirds. These would be more suitable, offering the nutritional value that they need. In fact, feeding hummingbirds the wrong type of foods such as seeds, suet, bread or nuts could seriously harm these tiny creatures.  

So, if you want to create a hummingbird haven, here are 7 ways to attract hummingbirds to your yard. 

1. Plant colorful flowers 

Hummingbird and red flower

Hummingbird and red flower (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Hummingbirds absolutely love nectar, so are naturally attracted to flowers that produce a lot of the sweet stuff. In addition, they are highly sensitive to the yellow and red end of the color spectrum, which is why they are more attracted to such tones. When planting, choose brightly-colored blooms such as bee balm, blue lobelia, petunia, coral honeysuckle (and other trumpet vines), and other perennials and annuals. 

This species particularly enjoys tubular flowers with orange or red blooms — which are more suited for their thin beaks and tongues to extract the nectar. The best way to plant hummingbird blooms is to cluster each species of flower in your backyard, and include a variety with staggered bloom times. This will ensure your feathered friends get a steady nectar souce all year-round. If you lack the space however, these can also be planted in hanging baskets, which would also make a nice decor feature to your backyard.  

2. Put out hummingbird feeders 

Hummingbird and feeder

Hummingbird and feeder (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Alongside your colorful blooms, you can provide a nectar supplement by putting out hummingbird feeders. For this, you can create a simple, nectar recipe to attract hummingbirds. Simply mix four parts boiling water to one part sugar. Wait until the sugar has dissolved, and allow the sweet solution to cool before filling your hummingbird feeder. Then, place it outside and wait for your feathered friends to appear. You can purchase feeders such as this Hummingbird Feeders for Hanging Outdoors ($14, Amazon), to place in your yard. 

Bear in mind that you should never add red dye to the solution, or substitute honey for the sugar in the solution. This may contain bacteria, and be potentially fatal for hummingbirds. If you have excess nectar water, this can be stored in the refrigerator for the next batch. 

Considering the hummingbirds diet consists mainly of nectar and insects, they will also be helping you reduce the number of pests in your backyard at the same time. Win-win!

3. Leave out fruit 

Plate of orange slices

Plate of orange slices (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Since hummingbirds are attracted to nectar or sweet-tasting food, fruits are another great way to attract these species into your yard. Experts recommend offering ripe or overripe chopped fruit, or ones with a broken skin. Such exposed fruit will break down quickly outdoors, becoming softer and sweeter for hummingbirds to enjoy its sugary juices.

Favorites include ripe berries, oranges, watermelons and pears. What’s more, overripe bananas do well to attract fruit flies, which are actually beneficial to our feathered friends. Hummingbirds need protein in their diet, so the fruit flies will provide much-needed nutrients! 

If you’re battling these critters in the home however, you might want to check out how to get rid of fruit flies fast. 

4. Don’t forget a water source 

Hummingbird drinking water

Hummingbird drinking water (Image credit: Shutterstock)

As with most species, hummingbirds also need a constant supply of water. In fact,  they take in as much as eight times their body weight in water on a daily basis. While most of this fluid comes from nectar, this can also come from dew-soaked leaves.  

While hummingbirds enjoy hovering through a fine shower from a water sprinkler, they tend to avoid birdbaths that are too deep. If you want to invest in a bird however, opt for an elevated birdbath with very shallow water levels of a maximum of 1.5 cm. In fact, there are different types of  hummingbird birdbaths available like this Quackups Solar Bubbler Fountain for Hummingbirds ($34, Amazon), to provide water to your tiny visitors.  

5. Attract them with the color red 

Red ribbon around feeder

Red ribbon around feeder (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Since hummingbirds are attracted to red flowers or vibrant hues, why not add other red materials around your yard? Things like tying red ribbons around feeders, tree branches or porch railings are great ways to attract hummingbirds. 

What’s more, if you add red tops or lids on top of the feeder, these can easily be seen from a birds-eye-view. 

6. Create a safe environment 

A cat and a dog running in the snow

A cat and a dog running in the snow (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you have pets or hungry predators lurking about, they are bound to deter hummingbirds from visiting. 

Ensure you keep cats and dogs at a distance, or indoors to avoid harming the birds. In addition, if you know the specific times when hummingbirds are likely to visit your backyard, ensure you keep your domestic pets out of the yard during that period.

Similarly, you can create vantage points for hummingbirds, such as tall perches or branches that allow them to monitor their entire space for predators. Generally, you want to create a peaceful environment to attract hummingbirds, so they can enjoy the space without fear, and come back in the future. 

7. Don’t use harmful pesticides

Someone measuring out indoor plant fertilizer with plants in the background

Someone measuring out indoor plant fertilizer with plants in the background (Image credit: Shutterstock)

You may be tempted to use pesticides or fertilizers to maintain a pest-free garden, but these are a big no-no when it comes to attracting hummingbirds. Not only can the birds ingest such harmful chemicals, but this can also kill all the beneficial insects which are their main source of protein. And if there are no juicy insects to feast on, the hummingbirds will just move on to their next dwelling. 

If you do want to protect and care for your beautiful blooms or homegrown food, opt for all-natural, bug sprays that are safer and won’t cause any harm to feathered friends. 

Things not to feed hummingbirds

  • Bird seed mixture
  • Suet
  • Bread
  • Nuts
  • Food scraps
  • Honey
  • Salt

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Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!