How do you get a hummingbird to trust you?

Quick Answers

Hummingbirds are naturally very wary and suspicious creatures. Gaining a hummingbird’s trust takes time, patience, and a gentle approach. Here are some quick tips:

  • Set up feeders in quiet areas away from disturbance
  • Use a nectar mix of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water
  • Don’t make sudden movements around hummingbirds
  • Let them get used to your presence gradually
  • Plant brightly colored, tubular flowers they are attracted to

With persistence and care, hummingbirds will eventually see you as a source of food rather than a threat. But don’t expect them to eat out of your hand right away – building trust takes a long process of small steps!

Why Do Hummingbirds Tend to Be Wary of Humans?

Hummingbirds are incredibly small, fragile creatures. An adult hummingbird may weigh only 2-6 grams on average. This makes them very vulnerable to predators and external threats. As a result, hummingbirds tend to be inherently very cautious for their own survival. Here are some key reasons why they tend to be wary around humans:

  • Their small size means humans seem gigantic and intimidating
  • Sudden movements or loud noises can startle them easily
  • They have instincts to fear being grabbed or captured
  • Unfamiliar objects and places put them on high alert
  • Negative past experiences with humans make them suspicious
  • They are protective of food sources and feeding areas

Hummingbirds have a fast heartbeat and high metabolisms that require frequent feeding. This means they cannot afford to take risks around potential predators that may prevent them from eating. Their small size also allows them to be bullied or chased away from food sources by larger animals. So unfortunately, they often view humans as intimidating giants that may compete for the nectar and sugars they depend on. With care and patience though, hummingbirds can come to recognize certain humans as friends rather than foes.

How to Gradually Gain a Hummingbird’s Trust

Gaining the trust of hummingbirds takes time and very gradual steps. Here are some tips:

Set up feeders in optimal locations

Place hummingbird feeders in quiet areas away from disturbance. Choose sheltered spots near trees, shrubs or other natural cover so hummingbirds feel protected. Making feeders visible from windows allows you to observe without alarming visiting birds.

Use the proper feeder nectar mix

Fill feeders with a 1:4 ratio of white sugar dissolved in water. No food coloring, honey or other additives needed. Change nectar every 2-3 days to ensure freshness. Rinse feeders well before refilling.

Avoid sudden movements and loud noises

Hummingbirds startle easily, so move slowly and quietly around them. Speak softly if others are present. Wear neutral solid colors when outside near feeders.

Let hummingbirds adjust to your presence

Sit where feeders are visible and read, knit or do other quiet activities. This allows hummingbirds to become comfortable with you over time. Don’t stare directly at them. Eventually they may come closer while feeding.

Set up a mister near feeders

Misting water attracts hummingbirds and gives them a chance to bathe. They may associate the mister and your presence with positive rewards.

Plant flowers hummingbirds are drawn to

Gardening with colorful tubular flowers like nasturtiums, fuchsias, petunias and bee balm invites hummingbirds to visit and feed. They will view your gardens as safe and full of food.

Avoid reaching towards or chasing hummingbirds

Resist any impulse to touch a visiting hummingbird. If they do come very close, stay still and let them make the choice. Attempting to chase or grab hummingbirds will break all built up trust.

Be Patient – Building Trust Takes Time

Some individual hummingbirds may come to trust you more quickly depending on their personality and past experiences. But most require many repeated visits over weeks or months before letting their guard down.

Don’t get discouraged if hummingbirds remain wary of you even after trying all the trust-building steps. Some may only feed when you are at a distance or not present at all. Each bird will warm up to you on its own schedule.

Stay consistent with your efforts and before long, hummingbirds will reward your patience with closer visits. Having a regular group of hummingbirds that sees your yard as a safe space and food haven is well worth the time invested.

Signs Hummingbirds See You as Trustworthy

How can you tell when hummingbirds finally start to trust you? Here are some behaviors that show you they have stopped viewing you as a threat:

  • Coming closer to feeders when you are present
  • Not quickly fleeing when you approach feeders
  • Visiting feeders regularly and appearing comforted
  • Feeding for longer periods without nervousness
  • Nesting or sleeping in nearby trees or shrubs
  • Allowing you to slowly approach while feeding
  • Taking baths in nearby misters or fountains
  • Bringing hatchlings to your feeders to introduce nectar
  • Returning to your feeders year after year

The more relaxed and settled a hummingbird seems in your presence and environment, the more they trust you. Remember that actions like sudden reaching or grabbing at a hummingbird will shatter any built up trust rapidly. Go at their pace, move gently and let them make all close approaches voluntarily.

Troubleshooting Hummingbirds That Won’t Trust You

Sometimes you can do everything right but a few hummingbirds still never seem to trust you or feel comfortable using your feeders. Here are some potential reasons and solutions to try:

Problem: Aggressive/territorial male hummingbird

  • Try moving feeders farther apart to reduce competition
  • Use feeders that allow multiple hummingbirds to feed at once
  • Offer several different nectar sources
  • Use feeder ports or bee guards to prevent chasing

Problem: Too much noise/disturbance near feeders

  • Relocate feeders away from noise sources
  • Add sound barriers such as bushes or trellises
  • Discourage yard activities/pets near feeders

Problem: Too visible/exposed feeder placement

  • Shift feeders closer to trees, bushes or other cover
  • Try different heights like higher or lower
  • Add temporary privacy screens around feeders

Problem: Overcrowding at feeders

  • Separate feeders more to reduce crowding
  • Offer multiple feeder types at once
  • Use feeders that allow multi-bird feeding
  • Try staggering your feeder placement

With some adjustments to setup, problem birds can often be encouraged and taught to trust you over time. Focus on creating a calmer, more welcoming environment tailored to hummingbird preferences.

Unexpected Ways Hummingbirds Show Trust

Sometimes hummingbirds exhibit their trust in subtle or surprising ways you may not expect. Here are some unusual signs of trust from hummingbirds:

  • Hovering within inches of your face
  • Landing on fingers, head or shoulders
  • Eating from open palms of hands
  • Following you around the yard as you walk
  • Chirping or vocalizing when you talk
  • Napping near you at night
  • Allowing gentle stroking of backs/tails
  • Visiting feeders while you do yardwork nearby
  • Drinking from bowls/misters in your hand

Not all hummingbirds will exhibit these extremely trusting behaviors. But individuals that feel very comfortable and safe in your presence may occasionally surprise you with their willingness to get close and interact. Just be sure not to startle or grab hummingbirds displaying this exceptional trust.

Negative Impacts of Losing a Hummingbird’s Trust

If unfriendly behavior or habitat changes cause hummingbirds to lose their hard-earned trust in you, there can be serious negative impacts:

  • They may abandon feeders and not return
  • Vital food sources are lost, risking starvation
  • Energy drain looking for new food suppresses immunity
  • Competition at new sites increases stress
  • Nestlings may starve with no parent to feed them
  • Migration and overwinter survival are jeopardized
  • They become fearful and stressed around humans again

Losing a hummingbird’s trust can be detrimental to their health and survival. That’s why it’s critical to always avoid sudden actions like grabbing at hummingbirds. The impact of re-establishing trust may be impossible once lost. If a hummingbird seems fearful again, go back to basics and rebuild their confidence gently.

Trust-Building Tips for Other Backyard Birds

The same principles used for hummingbirds can help build trust with other common backyard birds as well:

American Robins

  • Use ground platform feeders they can hop onto
  • Scatter mealworms and other treats in the open
  • Have a source of fresh water like a birdbath
  • Avoid sudden movements when near


  • Hang feeders from tree branches they can perch on
  • Provide black oil sunflower seeds they enjoy
  • Make a nest box visible from windows
  • Sit quietly while they feed until accustomed to you

Northern Cardinals

  • Use large tube feeders they can easily perch on
  • Provide a variety of seeds, fruits and nuts
  • Put feeders near dense bushes for quick escape
  • Enable gradual habituation to your presence

The keys are catering to each bird’s preferences, allowing them to adjust slowly to you, avoiding scaring them and letting them establish trust on their own terms. With some species it may happen rapidly, while others may take months or years. But the rewards of backyard birds that see you as a friend rather than a threat make it well worth the effort.


Gaining the trust of wary hummingbirds requires understanding their instincts, being patient and moving at their pace. Avoid sudden motions, let them grow accustomed to your presence gradually and provide appealing food sources. It may take many attempts over an extended time period before some hummingbirds drop their guard around you. But eventually your gentleness, consistency and care will help hummingbirds view you as a safe ally rather than a perceived predator or competitor. Building that mutual trust allows an incredibly special connection humans rarely get to experience with such delicate, beautiful creatures.

Leave a Comment