Hummingbirds know what they want in life and are not afraid to go for it! They’re incredibly specialized, able to turn every last drop of nectar into energy.
So hummingbirds know what they want, but how do you know? More importantly, make your backyard a hummingbird paradise so you can see all their amazing behaviors up close?
In this article, we’ll get into all the details of when you can see hummingbirds, what makes them choose one feeder over another, and how you can ensure your garden is their favorite hangout.
Your neighbors will be calling you the hummingbird whisperer. But you’ll know the hummingbirds’ real secrets.
When are Hummingbirds Most Active?
Hummingbirds are diurnal birds and do most of their feeding first thing in the morning after waking up from their nightly micro-hibernation, called torpor.
During these early hours, they will make up for the long night with nothing to eat by being especially active at feeders.
These stunning birds feed continually throughout the day and then have another burst of more intense activity in the late afternoon or around dusk.
How Do You Get Hummingbirds to Come to Your Feeder?
There are three key steps to getting hummingbirds to come to a new feeder.
Step One: Time it right. Most hummingbirds are spring migratory visitors to the US and Canada. The best time to set out a new feeder is 1-2 weeks before the earliest hummingbirds are expected in your area.
Step Two: Attract hummingbirds to your feeder by placing the feeder correctly. It must be in the open, so hummingbirds flying overhead can spot it. Hummingbirds also need nectar-producing flowers, places to perch, insects to eat, and water to drink and bathe in.
Step Three: Bring hummingbirds to a bird feeder by putting the right food in it. A simple sugar water recipe consists of one part refined white sugar to four parts water. Leave out any red dye or food coloring. Any other combination can cause health problems for hummingbirds and make them avoid your feeders.
What Month Do You Put Out Your Hummingbird Feeder?
The hummingbird migration north arrives in different areas at different times. The best time to put out your feeder is about 1-2 weeks before you expect the earliest arriving hummingbirds in your area.
April and May are common arrival months for migrating hummingbirds, but be sure to search for your state on our site to find out exactly when to prepare for hummingbirds to arrive!
What Time of Day Do Hummingbirds Stop Feeding?
Hummingbirds constantly feed throughout the day. Then they get in one last good feeding at dusk before going into torpor for the night–a type of micro-hibernation.
When the sun goes down, it’s all over. They’ll stay in torpor until the morning sunlight begins to wake them over one to two hours.
What Months are Hummingbirds Active?
Migratory hummingbirds may come to your area for just a few months out of the year to breed and raise their young. The hummingbird migration season starts in the spring and summer months, from April until August.
They’ll migrate back south any time from the beginning of July until the end of October.
But an increasing number of hummingbirds are choosing to stay in their northern habitats year-round. These birds will actively appear at feeders throughout the winter and may raise multiple clutches of chicks throughout the summer and fall months.
How Long Before Hummingbirds Will Come to My Feeder?
There’s no way to predict precisely how long it will take hummingbirds to show up at your feeder. But if you consider all of their needs, they could arrive very quickly!
What’s quick? If the males arrive at the forefront of the spring migration to find new food sources, they could spot your feeder as they’re flying over–just a week or two after you put it up.
But if it’s the off-season and the hummingbirds have already left for the winter, your feeder could be ignored until next year.
Also, yards that don’t offer enough of the other things hummingbirds need, like the safe cover, perches, good visibility of predators and rivals, and water sources, might be unappealing even if you put out a nice feeder.
Why Won’t Hummingbirds Drink from My Feeder?
If hummingbirds were drinking from your feeder before but aren’t now, there are some common areas you can troubleshoot.
First, make sure your feeders are sparkling clean. During the summer, this might mean putting out a clean feeder every day. Fresh sugar water solution spoils rapidly in the heat, causing mold and bacteria that can kill hummingbirds. If the nectar is cloudy, it’s spoiled–take it down immediately!
Another reason hummingbirds might avoid your feeders is ant or bee activity. Bee traps and ant moats, built into the design of your feeders, can help you avoid these problems so that only hummingbirds can access the nectar.
Finally, have you moved your feeders recently? Hummingbirds have strong memories and can return to the same flower again for nectar. They’ll do the same with your feeder. If you move your feeders, hummingbirds may keep going back to the original spot expecting a meal. They could even become convinced there’s no more food in your yard.
To avoid this problem, you can hang multiple feeders and only gradually move your feeders a very short distance to allow the hummingbirds time to get used to the change.
Where is the Best Place to Put a Hummingbird Feeder?
First and foremost, make sure your hummingbird feeder is out in the open, where hummingbirds flying overhead will be able to spot it.
Next, partner up with plants. Nearby shrubs and branches will give hummingbirds protection and places to perch and rest. Nectar-producing plants will draw hummingbirds and let them know there’s food on the menu.
We have a great in-depth guide on the art and science of placing a hummingbird feeder to fill you in on all the details.
How Do Hummingbirds Find Feeders?
Hummingbirds use their excellent vision and sense of taste to help them find food sources like bird feeders.
Using a red feeder, and positioning it next to hummingbirds’ favorite flowers, will go a long way toward making sure hummingbirds find your feeder. Skip the red dye in the sugar-water mix–a red feeder is enough.
Favorite flowers like bee balm and honeysuckle will quickly get their attention.
The taste of the nectar mix in your feeder is important. Make sure it’s 26% sugar (about one part sugar to four parts water), ensuring it’s sweet enough for hummingbirds’ discerning palates.
Once they’ve found a great food source, hummingbirds’ amazing memories will allow them to return to the same spot to enjoy it year after year.
What Hummingbirds Want
Short of jumping into a hummingbird’s mind for a day, you can’t know for sure everything they want in life. But you can understand what will bring them to your backyard. With the right timing, placement, and food, getting hummingbirds to come to your feeders is a breeze.