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Attracting hummingbirds at home

Healthy food and a great environment easily attract those hummingbirds
Healthy food and a great environment easily attract those hummingbirds
Photo by: Emily Clayton

Nothing compares to the sight of hummingbirds at a feeder. Brilliant flashes, incredible wing movements and feisty chases are just some of the many delights to observe. Whether watching from indoors or casually strolling by, you cannot help but marvel at these tiny creatures. Now that you have fallen in love, what is the best way to attract hummingbirds of your own?

Purchase the feeder

A good-quality feeder is vital to capturing a hummingbird’s interest; it also keeps the nectar clean and healthy. Look for a feeder with a clear glass bottle. Plastic is not durable and may taint the food supply over time. Plastic bases and feeding ports work fine, though, provided there are no loose-fitting parts. Move on to another brand if any sections are warped or cracked. In addition, do not purchase feeders with questionable bases, or you risk unexpected leaks later on.

Feed those hungry tummies

Although many products are available, commercially produced nectar may contain hidden ingredients. In addition, red dye is a potential danger to the health of your new hummingbird friends. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, kidney and liver disease may result from ingestion of red dye No. 40. Why risk harming your flying jewels when homemade hummingbird nectar is safe and easy to make? Instead of adding red dye, add red-flowered plants instead. Native flowers are highly attractive to hummingbirds, and they will further increase the interest of passersby. Several potted plants with bright red, pink or purple tones are also excellent options.

Find the correct ratio

To make your own hummingbird nectar, use white granulated sugar and water. Nothing else. A 1:4 ratio, 1 part sugar and 4 parts water, is the closest match to wildflower nectar. Deviating from this ratio may lead to digestion discomfort. Also ensure you thoroughly clean and replace the mixture at least once a week. A midweek cleaning or nectar replacement is often necessary during hot weather or increased bird activity.

Enjoy the local wildlife

Around Santee, local hummingbird species include Anna’s, Black-chinned and Rufous/Allen’s. Anna’s hummingbirds, year-round residents, are the most common species throughout the county. They are also feisty and fierce defenders of a choice feeder. Black-chinned hummingbirds are moderately common in most seasons except winter. Smaller than the Anna’s, the Black-chinned hummingbirds are especially fond of sycamores. Rufous/Allen’s hummingbirds, on the other hand, are typically viewed only during migration. Catch them on their early travels, and enjoy their coppery tones.

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