how to attract hummingbirds to a new feeder

How to Attract Hummingbirds to a New Feeder: The Ultimate Guide

Hummingbirds are beautiful, brightly colored birds that feed on the sweet nectar produced by flowers. The stunning colors of their plumage are often iridescent or metallic. They are incredible in the air with unrivaled flying ability. This makes them a ton of fun to watch, especially if you have a hummingbird feeder. So do you know how to attract hummingbirds to a new feeder?

Glad you asked! In this article, we’ll go over the best ways how to attract hummingbirds to a new feeder as well as other top hummingbird facts. Let’s get started!

Photo by Skyler Ewing

How to Attract Hummingbirds to a New Feeder

The chances are high that you live in an area where hummingbirds are found. You probably even have some indigenous plants that provide them with food growing nearby already. The best way to attract hummingbirds is to recreate their natural habitat. 

The natural habitat of a hummingbird is an open meadow filled with a variety of plants and flowers that most would consider weeds in the garden. A friend once said, “a weed is just a plant in a place you don’t want it.” So, to attract hummingbirds, this is a great mantra to adopt. 

Author Note: Cutting the grass and removing the weeds from your manicured lawn might be necessary for some suburban areas. For those with a little more freedom and space, maintaining a flowering meadow is the perfect way to reintroduce wildlife.

The more bees and hummingbirds you attract to your garden, the more the flowers will reproduce. Hummingbirds like bees are excellent pollinators, and they continue to pollinate the plants that provide them food. In turn, the number of these plants increases, as does the number of pollinators.

Brighten Up the Place

Hummingbirds drinking from a house feeder

Hummingbirds are drawn to bright colors, particularly red, orange and pink. If you don’t have a variety of flowers to attract their attention naturally, try using ribbon.

If you would like to attract hummingbirds for the first time, tying red ribbons around your garden can help. From a distance, the ribbons look like a line of flowers growing along a vine. As the birds come closer to investigate the bright colors, they will spot a brightly painted feeder. This is a key tactic in how to attract hummingbirds to a new feeder.

Hang Hummingbird or Nectar Feeders

Hanging hummingbird feeders is another excellent way to maintain a visiting hummingbird’s interest. Keeping a feeder clean and full requires little expense and minimal effort. Compared to a plastic seed feeder, hummingbird feeders can make a cute addition to your yard.

Although hummingbirds don’t have a good sense of smell, they have excellent vision. Bright colors draw their eye because these colors represent the flowers that supply their nectar. 

In order to make the new feeder clearly visible, it should be brightly colored and hung in an open, prominent location. Remember, hummingbirds are territorial and do not share ‘their’ feeder with any other hummingbirds or other bird species

If you have other feeders, these should be placed a distance away. Separate feeding areas will ensure the hummingbirds’ comfort. Without other bird activity in the near vicinity, you could make a friend who returns year after year.

Note: Sugar water will attract ants. Use an ant moat to keep them out of the nectar. 

Photo by Chris F.

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

Four parts water to one part sugar is the best ratio. Make sure that you use only refined white sugar. Brown sugars may contain molasses and food coloring, which can be detrimental to hummingbirds’ health. You should avoid artificial sweeteners at all costs.

Do not add any food coloring to the nectar. This could also cause the birds gastric distress. If you feel the need to add color, use glass paint on the outside of the nectar bottle.

Also, make sure that the four to one ratio is correct. Using a higher concentration of sugar can put stress on the bird’s liver and kidneys.

Using a Protein Feeder

In addition to nectar, another essential source of food for hummingbirds is insects. Hummingbirds may thrive on the rich sugars in plant nectar, but they also require protein for survival. An innovative method for protein provision is to hang banana peels.

Author Note: The peels themselves do not attract hummingbirds, but they do attract insects. These insects will provide critical nutritional supplements to the nectar feeders and ensure all the food groups hummingbirds require are present.

Plant a Flower Garden

Hummingbirds have a considerable demand for nectar as they have a very fast metabolism. To maintain their energy levels, hummingbirds are on constant alert for sources of food. In fact, they can travel over 20 miles per day, going from flower to flower.

Do you have space, time, and green fingers to tend flowers? Planting suitable species of flowers in your garden is the most satisfying way to attract hummingbirds. Not only do these plants often look beautiful, but they also bless your garden with intoxicating aromas. Having a solid flower garden is a great option for how to attract hummingbirds to a new feeder.

So which are the right species of flowers?

Photo by Janice Carriger


Honeysuckle is a climbing vine with more than 150 species in the genus. The flowers bloom with sprays of small trumpet-shaped flowers which contain sweet honey-like nectar and fragrance.

Honeysuckle is excellent for attracting hummingbirds and bees, as well as other birds and insects. Hummingbirds are particularly drawn to the orange honeysuckle species; Lonicera sempervirens, and Lonicera ciliosa.

Red Columbine – Aquilegia Canadensis and Aquilegia Formosa

Hummingbird in flight by a feeder

Columbines have some startlingly delightful flowers within the genus. There is a wide variety of colors ranging from white to dark purple. Columbine flowers can also differ significantly in shape. Some flowers resemble daffodils, while others look more like buttercups. 

Red Columbine is excellent for attracting hummingbirds in early spring. Its flowering coincides perfectly with the return of the hummingbirds from their winter roosting grounds. Red Columbine is also an attractor of bumblebees.

Columbine flowers are edible in small doses, but stems and roots are poisonous and potentially deadly.

Foxgloves – Digitalis

Foxgloves are great to attract hummingbirds. Their tall ‘fingers’ become covered in blooms that are sure to catch the eye of any passing hummingbird. There are about 20 varieties of Foxglove in the genus. 

The most attractive foxgloves and best for attracting hummingbirds are; Digitalis Purpurea, Digitalis Grandiflora, and Digitalis Parviflora.

Petunias – Petunia Exserta

There are around 20 species of petunias, most of which are pollinated by insects. However, the Petunia Exserta is one subspecies that has evolved specifically to entice hummingbirds to transfer their pollen.

Exserta is the only variety of petunia that has red flowers. This further leads to the assumption that red is the predominant attracting color for hummingbirds. This species was only documented in 1997 and is native to one small area of Brazil. As such, you may struggle to find this species in your local garden center.

Hummingbirds and Water

As if they are aware of the saying “Cleanliness is close to godliness,” almost all birds are quite fastidious. Whether it’s in dust or water, bathing is an integral part of a bird’s daily routine, and hummingbirds are no different.

Hummingbirds are not so crude as to splash around in a bath like other birds. They prefer to shower. Hummingbirds are often seen stretching their wings in the rain to ensure they have a good soak.

Top Tip: A great way to provide a shower for hummingbirds is to use a mister attachment on your garden hose. Especially if you already have a hummingbird in your yard, a mist spray will top off the five-star rating.

Photo by Skyler Ewing

It can be great entertainment to watch the birds fly back and forth through the mist until they are drenched. They will often sit for a moment or two while saturated. Then they will give a quick shake and disappear on their endless search for more food.

Hummingbirds can be picky about the water they drink. Due to their small size, impurities in their drinking water can affect hummingbirds significantly. Don’t take it personally if they avoid the birdbath altogether.

Hummingbirds tend to drink the water that collects on plants in the morning as dew. Dew is actually higher in nitrogen and potassium than most natural sources of water. But whether this source of minerals provides aid to a hummingbird is unknown.  

The Best Habitat for Hummingbirds

how to sterilize hummingbird feeders

Hummingbirds send their roots deep. When they find a habitat that matches their needs, they will return every year. Though they only live for three to five years, hummingbird mothers will teach their young to visit your feeder too.

Even as they hover, sipping at a flower, hummingbirds match the movement of the flower as it blows in the wind. Then they dart off between the dense stems of the undergrowth. Their speed and agility would have you believe they could almost dodge raindrops in a storm.

Despite this loyalty to a productive territory, neither male nor female hummingbirds are loyal to their partners. Males and females will mate with multiple partners even within a breeding season. This means that eggs that share a nest do not necessarily share a father. 

Leave the spiderwebs. It may sound like a nightmare to an arachnophobe, but spiderwebs are a coveted nesting material to hummingbirds. Removing spiderwebs is removing valuable material that hummingbirds use to insulate their nests. 

This will allow the to be safe and give hummingbirds a place to sleep/go into torpor.

Another important thing to remember is that hummingbirds are intensely territorial. They are also unable to distinguish reflections from the real world. As such, a territorial male can fight his own reflection to exhaustion and even death. 

It is not uncommon to find a hummingbird attacking the wing mirror of your car. Do the poor fellow a favor and fold away car mirrors and remove any others you may have in the garden. 


Hummingbirds are a beautiful addition to any garden. They not only benefit by pollinating flowers, but they eat mosquitoes and other insects too. These tiny birds are a true pleasure to capture with a super slow motion camera, but that is a topic for another article. We hope you enjoyed this guide on how to attract hummingbirds to a new feeder.

Fly high friends!


What is the healthiest hummingbird food?

It might seem counter intuitive but processed white sugar is the best for to feed hummingbirds because it is a simple product and less likely to go off. Other sweet substances like honey or brown sugar contain plant proteins that may harm the hummingbirds.

What time of day is best to feed hummingbirds?

Like all birds, the hummingbird is most active in the morning and late afternoon. That is when all creatures are primed to eat. Therefore, it is the best time to feed hummingbirds.

What is an alternative hummingbird food to sugar water?

Hummingbirds also eat insects so you could leave out a bowl of mealworm for them. You can buy mealworm at the pet store.

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