Jul 25, 2018 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, August 2018

Helpful Hummingbird Tips

A hummingbird sips nectar from a red salvia. Photo by Connie Etter.
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Deceptive Flowers for Hummingbirds

Horticulturalists typically breed flowers to be showy and colorful—characteristics hummingbirds find attractive. But such flowers aren't necessarily good food sources for hummingbirds. Begonias and tea roses, for example, don't produce nectar. Even petunias—which people often provide specifically for hummingbirds—produce small amounts of nectar relative to other flowers. Such flowers might attract hummingbirds, but ultimately, they'll disappoint. Better choices for hanging baskets that attract and feed hummingbirds include fuchsia, salvia, and lobelia.

Use Only Sugar for Hummingbird Nectar

Don't use anything other than white table sugar when making hummingbird nectar. Molasses, honey, and brown sugar (which contains molasses) are toxic to hummingbirds, and low-calorie sugar substitutes such as stevia and artificial sweeteners do not provide the calories hummingbirds need to fuel their speedy metabolism. A four-parts water to one-part white table sugar is a reasonable substitute for naturally produced nectar.



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  • I have the same situation. The feeder is attached to the middle of a large picture window that goes ceiling to floor w/ no ledge or sill for animals to climb or balance. Yet every morning all the sunflower seeds have been cracked open and hulls left. Any ideas what it is?
    by Liza Fox, Sun, 15 Nov 2020
  • I have a bird feeder that sticks to my window and I've been hearing noises against the window at night right now its going on. But whatever it is it is aware of me. And when I get to window it leaves.I can't imagine a squirrel or mouse or possom being able to get at it. ...So as I was reading this article im to assume no bird eats at night. Or no birds will eat at night. Why is that? Then im also thinking of a sinereo that could a lost confused bird eat at night. This eating thing is watching meI turn out the light go there noise dissappears..Thank you.
    by Nosferatu, Thu, 05 Nov 2020
  • I have metal baffles (cones) on my pole for my bird feeders. Something is still tempting them at night. What else could it be? Deer???
    by Ella Spencer Connolly, Thu, 27 Aug 2020
  • I found where he lives, then I keep him up all day by singing at full volume! Hah, that'll show the little sucker!
    by Pike Juan, Tue, 11 Aug 2020
  • I never knew feeding birds could be so confusing. I love watching the birds in my backyard even though I don't get a very big variety.
    by JustMyOpinion, Sun, 26 Jul 2020