How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Backyard

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2021

By Mary Michaela Parker. MSU Extension Service

Ruby-throated hummingbirds will soon be migrating north, so it’s time to prepare for their arrival! Most ruby red-throated hummingbirds will be throughout Mississippi by the end of March. They will generally remain here until November before returning to Central and South America. Ruby-throated hummingbirds generally only migrate throughout the eastern half of the United States. Other species of hummingbirds may appear in our area, but the ruby-throated is the most common.

To welcome hummingbirds, prepare a homemade nectar in your backyard for them to feed on. Mix four parts water and one-part sugar and boil for two minutes. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before filling the feeder. The mixture will spoil in the heat, so change the mixture every three to five days. Always clean the feeders well with hot soapy water and rinse before the first use and each time you refill them throughout the season to help reduce bacteria growth. You can store any leftover mixture in the refrigerator for easy use.

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Hummingbirds are attracted to bright colors such as orange, white, and red. Because of this, many people believe it’s important to put red food coloring into the homemade nectar to help attract them to the feeder. This is not necessary and provides no benefits to the hummingbirds. Most feeders are red, and that helps attract the birds to the nectar.

It is also important to provide hummingbirds with food, water, and shelter. Hummingbirds are pollinators, feeding on a variety of plants commonly found in landscapes. Plants like begonia, petunia, nasturtium, and zinnia are great annuals to incorporate into your yard this year. Other perennials and shrubs hummingbirds are particularly fond of include butterfly weed, lantana, azaleas, salvia, and coral honeysuckle. Check out the full list of plants in this factsheet on how to attract hummingbirds.

If you have a variety of shrubs, trees, or vines that are in quiet or undisturbed areas, hummingbirds will find themselves right at home. They spend the majority of their time in these areas when they are not out hunting for food. In addition to food, they also need a water source. Consider purchasing a mister to attach to your water hose or a shallow birdbath with perching rocks to provide them with water.

Hummingbirds are a special summer visitor to your yard. If you provide hummingbirds with the food, water and shelter they need, they’ll hang around until they make the trip south to their wintering grounds.