5 Things you can do to help attract Hummingbirds

5. Tie an orange ribbon round the old oak tree. Use foot-long pieces of surveyor’s tape (bright red, pink or purple plastic ribbon sold in hardware stores) to catch the eyes of passing hummingbirds. Tie these pieces to bushes, trees, deck railings—anyplace near flowers or feeders. The bright colors will lure migrant hummingbirds down from the sky for a closer look. When they get there, they’ll find your flowering gardens and hummingbird feeders, which might make them decide to stay for more than just a rest stop.

4. Make snag perches for hummingbirds. Bluebirds, kestrels, and flycatchers all like to use snags for perching. Why do they perch? To rest, to preen, but most of all, to hunt. Hummingbirds are no different. After beating your wings at a rate of 80 beats per second, you’d feel like taking a break, too. All hummingbirds, but especially males, like to perch on the end of an exposed branch. From this vantage point they can see danger or rivals approaching. And they can sally forth into the air to grab a tasty insect, should one happen to fly past. You can create a hummingbird snag by sticking a dead branch into the ground so that it stands vertically. Place it about 50 feet from your feeder, but still within view. You may find that a territorial male uses the perch as a watch tower from which to defend a lone feeder. If this happens, see #1 below.

3. Add a mister to your yard. A mister is a small-hosed attachment for your regular garden hose. With the hose turned on to just a trickle, the mister, with its pinhole openings, shoots a fine spray, or mist, into the air. Hummingbirds, like all birds, will regularly bathe if a ready supply of water is at hand. But a mister in action is too much to resist! Hummingbirds love to fly through the fine spray until they are thoroughly soaked, at which point they zip off to a handy preening perch. Misters are available at hardware stores, lawn and garden centers, specialty bird stores, and by mail order.

2. Don’t remove those spider webs. Hummingbirds use spider web as a main ingredient in their nests. Strands of spider web hold the nest together and to the branch upon which it is built. But wait, there’s more! Hummingbirds also love to steal insects from spider webs. Insects are an important source of protein for hummingbirds, and they’ll get them any way they can. How convenient for hummingbirds to have spider webs do the catching for them.

1. Got bullies? Add more feeders in a clump! If you have one male hummingbird that is dominating your feeder to the exclusion of all others, there are two ways to afford your other hummingbirds a drink. One is to put up other feeders on opposite sides of your house, or out of sight of Mr. Bully. Of course, this may simply mean that you are setting up other fiefdoms for other male bullies. Perhaps a better solution is to add two or three more feeders in the vicinity of the first feeder. This will attract multiple hummingbirds, which will quickly cure your bully of his territoriality. He will not be physically able to fight off all the other hummingbirds, so he will give up trying.