Hummingbirds are beautiful, tiny birds that can provide color and entertainment around your home. Their iridescent feathers shimmer in the sunlight as they dart from flower to flower sipping nectar. Hummingbirds are found only in the Americas and there are over 300 different species. With their speedy flying and delicate nature, it’s no wonder that many homeowners enjoy seeing hummingbirds visit their yards. But are hummingbirds good to have around your house? There are pros and cons to consider.
Pros of Having Hummingbirds Around Your House
Here are some of the benefits of having hummingbirds around your home:
- They are fun to watch – Hummingbirds move incredibly fast, beating their wings up to 80 times per second. Watching them hover and dart around as they feed is fascinating.
- They are beautiful – With their iridescent, colorful feathers, hummingbirds add a sense of wonder and beauty to your yard. Their shades of red, green, blue and orange glitter in the sunlight.
- They pollinate flowers – Like bees, hummingbirds serve as pollinators as they travel from flower to flower, transferring pollen. This helps your plants thrive.
- They eat insects – Hummingbirds supplement their diet with small insects like gnats, fruit flies and spiders. This makes them helpful for controlling pests in your yard.
- They are easy to attract – With store-bought or homemade nectar feeders and planted flowers that hummingbirds are attracted to, it’s relatively simple to bring hummingbirds to your home.
Having hummingbirds around can bring joy, beauty and activity to your outdoor space. Watching their aerial dances and acrobatics is an amazing experience. The flash of their colors livens up your garden. Kids and adults alike enjoy observing their behaviors and antics.
Cons of Having Hummingbirds Around Your House
However, there are some potential downsides associated with attracting hummingbirds:
- Feeders must be cleaned frequently – To prevent mold, growth and sickness, nectar feeders have to be cleaned every few days. This involves taking apart the feeder, washing it thoroughly, and replacing the nectar.
- Nectar can get messy – Hummingbirds can drip nectar as they feed, leaving sticky spots on decks, patios or windows. This requires regular cleanup.
- Feeders may attract other pests – Ants, bees, wasps and other insects are attracted to the sugar water, especially once drips or spills occur. This can lead to unwanted pests around your home.
- More bird droppings – With more birds visiting your yard, you’ll have to deal with more bird poop on outdoor surfaces and items.
- Risk of window collisions – Hummingbirds may accidentally fly into windows around your home, injuring or even killing themselves. Preventative measures may be needed.
- May attract predators – Outdoor cats or larger birds may stalk feeders looking for an easy meal. This can put hummingbirds in danger.
If you want to avoid the hassle of cleaning and filling feeders, dealing with stickiness, and worrying about pests or predators, having a yard full of hummingbirds may not be for you. Frequent maintenance is required to keep feeders sanitary and safe for hummingbirds. The activity around the feeders can also attract critters you don’t want around your house.
Tips for Attracting Hummingbirds
If you want to invite hummingbirds to visit your home, here are some tips:
- Get a nectar feeder – Purchase a feeder designed specifically for hummingbirds. Make sure it is easy to clean and fill. Choose a red feeder or one with red accents since hummingbirds are attracted to the color red.
- Fill feeder with proper nectar mix – Use a premixed solution or make your own using 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Boil the water first and let cool before filling. No food coloring is needed and can be harmful.
- Place feeder in optimal spot – Set up feeder in bright, open area away from bushes where predators may hide. Near trees, shrubs or other perches works well so hummingbirds have a place to rest.
- Add flowering plants – Grow native plants with tubular red or orange flowers that hummingbirds can access like bee balm, trumpet vine, fuchsia and coral honeysuckle.
- Provide a water source – A mister, fountain or bird bath gives hummingbirds a spot to bathe and drink.
- Avoid using pesticides – Chemicals and pesticides can be harmful to hummingbirds. Use natural gardening methods when possible.
- Keep outdoor cats indoors – Cats pose a serious threat of injury or death to hummingbirds visiting your yard.
- Install decals on windows – Stickers or decals alert hummingbirds to windows so they can avoid collisions.
With the right feeders, flowers, water sources and adjustments, you can create an enticing space that hummingbirds will flock to all season long!
Best Flowers for Attracting Hummingbirds
To bring hummingbirds to your yard, incorporating certain flowers in your garden beds or containers is key. Here are some of the best flower varieties to plant:
- Petunias – These summer blooming flowers come in vivid colors like red, pink, purple and orange that attract hummingbirds. They grow well in beds or hanging baskets.
- Bee balms – With spiky blooms in shades like red, pink, orange and purple, bee balms are a favorite nectar source of hummingbirds all summer long.
- Fuchsias – Both the hanging and upright varieties of fuchsias produce hundreds of bell-like flowers that hummingbirds love to pollinate.
- Lantanas – Hybrid lantana plants bloom continuously with clusters of brightly hued flowers in red, yellow, orange, pink or white.
- Salvias – The tubular flowers of salvia come in blue, purple, red and pink, all colors hummingbirds find irresistible.
- Coral Honeysuckle – This vine rapidly grows along trellises and fences, producing clusters of trumpet-shaped coral flowers.
- Gladiolus – The tall spikes of gladiolus have ruffled flowers in strong red and pink hues sure to catch a hummingbird’s eye.
- Cannas – With big, banana-like leaves and brilliant red, orange, yellow and pink flowers, cannas make a bold statement.
- Nasturtiums – Hummingbirds inspect the bright red, orange and yellow blossoms of nasturtiums for nectar.
- Columbines – Columbines produce elegant bell-shaped, spurred flowers in colors like red, yellow, pink and white.
When gardening for hummingbirds, focus on flowers with bright, saturated colors and tubular or trumpet-shaped blooms that allow hummingbirds easy access to nectar. Mass groupings of the same flowers make it convenient for hummingbirds to move from plant to plant.
Best Nectar Feeders for Hummingbirds
A good nectar feeder that meets hummingbirds’ needs is the top strategy for attracting them to your yard. When choosing a feeder, consider these factors:
- Capacity – The feeder should hold enough nectar so you don’t have to refill it every day. Look for a capacity of 10-32 ounces.
- Number of Feeding Ports – Multiple feeding ports allow several hummingbirds to feed at once. Two or more ports is ideal so one bird doesn’t dominate.
- Moat or Drainage Holes – Features to catch drips keep the area clean. Some feeders have built-in moats while others have drainage holes.
- Easy Cleaning – Feeders should come apart easily for periodic cleaning which removes mold and bacteria.
- High Quality Materials – Durable glass or plastic are best. Materials that won’t fade in sunlight or crack in cold weather.
Here are some top-rated feeders to consider:
- Elegant, decorative look
- Allows you to easily monitor nectar levels
- Glass doesn’t hold odors like plastic
- More prone to breaking
Products: Perky Pet 212PP, Kaytee 89034, Elements GLHF58
- Durable, hard to break
- Often have convenient nectar level indicators
- Plastic may take on smells over time
- Mimics look of real flowers
Products: First Nature 3225, Aspects 404, Woodlink 7536
- Copper naturally inhibits bacterial growth
- Interesting, decorative look
- Lightweight and easy to hang
- Can be more expensive
Products: Nature’s Way CGF05, Copper Spur SP-10510, Holms HOM11-030-010
The key is finding the style you like best that allows easy cleaning, drainage and multiple feeding ports. Hang or mount your feeder in a visible spot and watch the hummingbirds stream into your yard!
Do Hummingbirds Migrate? How Far and Where?
Many of the hummingbird species found in the U.S. and Canada do indeed migrate annually over long distances. Here are some migration facts about popular hummingbird species:
- Travels between Central America and Eastern U.S. and Canada
- Round trip migration is over 5,000 miles
- Travel approximately 25 miles per hour
- Males depart earlier than females in fall migration
- Young hummingbirds migrate solo on their first journey
- Breeds in Northwest U.S. and Canada
- Migrates to Mexico and Gulf Coast for winter
- Covers around 3,900 miles roundtrip
- Crosses Gulf of Mexico nonstop over 20-hour period
- Starts migration as early as June/July
- Summers along West Coast to western Texas
- Migrates to Mexico for winter
- Also crosses Gulf of Mexico nonstop 500+ miles
- Travels over 2,000 miles each way
- Young make first migration solo
These tiny birds demonstrate incredible feats of endurance as they complete their biannual migrations across countries and major geographical barriers. Their built-in navigation system guides them over thousands of miles to their winter homes and back again.
Do Hummingbirds Store Food? How Do They Survive Long Migrations?
Hummingbirds have very high metabolisms and must feed frequently to fuel their energy needs. They do not store food. So how do they survive migrating long distances?
Hummingbirds nearly double their weight before migrating by building up extra fat reserves. They feed constantly in the weeks leading up to migration, consuming nectar and insects to pack on more body fat.
This fat provides crucial energy while flying. But hummingbirds still need to stop periodically to refuel. Their route includes habitats along the way that supply food sources.
Hummingbirds conserve energy in flight by:
- Flying high where air is thinner
- Riding wind currents when possible
- Entering a state of torpor where bodily functions slow at night
To cross large stretches like the Gulf of Mexico, where food isn’t available, hummingbirds go into a frenzy of feeding right beforehand. This allows them to stockpile critical fat reserves to draw energy from.
Despite their small size, hummingbirds are built for migrating long distances. Their specialized physiology and feeding behaviors give them the fuel they need to achieve remarkable nonstop journeys.
Overall, hummingbirds can bring beauty, wonder and enjoyment to your yard with their dazzling colors, energetic activity and aerial talents. Watching them whiz around your garden visiting feeders and flowers is a special experience.
But attracting more hummingbirds means more maintenance and responsibility too. Nectar drips, cleaning, pests, predators and safety issues require diligence. The right flowers, feeders and adjustments make your yard safer and more appealing to hummingbirds.
If you’re willing to invest the time and care required, incorporating more hummingbirds into your outdoor space can be rewarding. Their glittering displays of speed, agility and grace create magical moments in your own backyard.