How to Attract Hummingbirds with a Sugar Solution

Gardening Tips
Hummingbirds Sugar Feeder

Many people love hummingbirds and would like to have them in their gardens as guests. However, not all gardeners and homeowners know how to invite these beautiful animals and how to make them feel welcomed. In essence, what you need to do is to provide favorable conditions for hummingbirds, namely, food, water and a shelter. If you can provide this, they will feel welcomed in your garden and will come back over and over again.

Think of your garden as a hotel for hummingbirds and try to provide the best services and everything they need. This is the easiest way to make them interested and to come back. Above all, you need to provide them food and drink, but also a nice place to sleep and hide. With a bit of thought, it's easy to meet all of the hummingbird needs.

A Hummingbird Feeder

One of the easiest ways to provide favorable conditions for hummingbirds is to make a special feeder. You can do it by preparing a tasty sugar solution and put it into a feeder. They will use it as a source of nutrients and it will make your garden immediately appealing to them.

In addition to this, you need to remember hummingbirds can get tired. Keep in mind that they have hearts that beat up to 1,000 times per minute and they tend to fly to great distances. They are strong but they need some rest. It means they will be looking for a nice, safe place to rest and sleep. If you want to attract hummingbirds to your garden, it's important to provide such a place.

The good news is that it's not so difficult to give hummingbirds a good place to sleep. In fact, the feeder is enough. That's right: hummingbirds love to sleep on the perches of hummingbird feeders. It's a great place for them to take a nap, so it means you don't even have to provide a special sleeping area.

In other words, to attract hummingbirds to your garden, all you need to do is to install feeders and fill them with the sugar solution. Another way to attract these cute little birds is through the flowering plants you can grow in your garden. Search for the most appropriate plants for hummingbirds if you want to go this route and remember: hummingbirds are mostly attracted to red flowers. Some of the best plants for hummingbirds are: Monarda, Butterfly Bush, Lantana, and Fuchsia. Other good choices are Salvia and Sage. Hummingbirds love to visit these nectar plants so they will sure come to your garden.

However, if you want to go with a sugar solution, it's important to know how to prepare it properly. It's not so difficult to make, but you need to know what you're doing because a badly made solution will either not attract hummingbirds or worse, it can harm them.

Making a Sugar Solution

The first thing you need to know is that hummingbirds extract nectar from flowers but you won't be able to buy it at a store. So you either have to plant the exact flowering plants in your garden that are ideal for hummingbirds or you need to know how to prepare a tasty sugar solution hummingbirds will love to drink.

You can create this solution using white table sugar, but you need to mix it with water. This is important, because flower nectar is about 20% sucrose while sugar is 100% sucrose. It is too strong for hummingbirds so it has to be diluted before offered to these animals to drink.

To make a solution, simply mix 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Make sure to boil the mixture to kill any potential bacteria or mold. After this, leave the solution to cool down to room temperature. This will make it ready for hummingbirds to eat it.

Some important tips on preparing the solution:

  • Always use the purest water available.
  • Make sure to use a brand of granular white sugar without any preservatives or additives.
  • NEVER use any substitute for white sugar (such as honey, brown sugar or another type of sweetener). Don't use these substitutes - they can harm hummingbirds (for example, they can die from the mold that will start to grow if you use honey.
  • DO NOT add red dye to your sugar solution! While it's true hummingbirds are attracted to color red, red dye can be very harmful to hummingbirds. To attract them to the sugar solution, simply use a red feeder. All hummingbird feeders are red anyway, so they will attract these birds without a problem, and when they're there, they will find the sugar solution. Do not attempt to add any dyes or colors in the solution itself.
  • Change the solution in the feeders every 2 or 3 days. The hotter the weather, the faster the solution will spoil. During a very hot weather you will probably need to change the solution every day. Changing the solution regularly is important because hummingbirds need clean, safe solution without any signs of mold or fermentation. Fermentation and other problems often lead do bad odor or change in the color of the solution, but keep in mind that a solution can look perfectly fine and to still be harmful for the birds. To avoid this problem, make sure to change the solution regularly.
  • Make sure to wash the feeders before adding the sugar solution to it. Clean the feeders at least once per week using soapy water and a bottle brush. You may also use white vinegar. Make sure to rinse it properly and leave it to dry before you add the sugar solution to it.
  • If you have filled all of the feeders and you still have leftover sugar solution, you can refrigerate it for about a week. However, it's important to use it as soon as possible. After a week, you will need to throw it out and make a new one.
  • Make sure your garden is free from pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Hummingbirds can't handle any toxic substances so it's important that your garden and yard are eco-friendly and safe for these little birds.

Photo credit: C Watts

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