Help Migrating Hummingbirds

Most people are well aware that Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) migrate to and from Mexico. But they are not the only migrants. Hummingbirds also travel to and from Mexico and Central America.

Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). Photo Copyright © by Brenda Hawkins. Used with permission.

Many hummingbirds  migrate north to their breeding grounds in the southern United States as early as February, and to areas further north later in the spring. Use this tracking map to know when to expect them in your area. Set out hummingbird feeders about two weeks before they arrive.

You can help support your local hummingbirds by planting flowers that have high nectar content. Hummingbirds are especially attracted to tubular flowers such as Coral Honeysuckle, Fushia, Daylilies, Bee Balm, Cardinal Flowers, Salvias, and Petunias. They are also attracted to Coral Bells, Larkspur, Columbines, Coneflowers, and Lantanas. Notice that many of these flowers also attract butterflies!

Click here to finds seeds:

Hanging a basket with overripe fruit or banana peels close to a hummingbird feeder will attract fruit flies and other nutritious soft-bodied insects which hummingbirds eat. It’s exciting to watch hummingbirds darting about chasing down these tiny flying insects.

Set out fruit such as oranges and banana and attract both butterflies and hummingbirds.

You can also help hummingbirds by putting out several Hummingbird feeders. Hummingbirds tend to be very territorial and do not like to share. Make sugar water mixtures with about one-quarter cup of sugar per cup of water. Food coloring is unnecessary; table sugar is the best choice. Change the water before it grows cloudy or discolored and remember that during hot weather, sugar water ferments rapidly to produce toxic alcohol.

I set this hummingbird feeder near where I sit on my back porch so I can enjoy watching these lovely birds.

Keeping your feeders clean and hygienic is a vital aspect of feeding the birds. Not only are hummers more likely to imbibe from a clean feeding station, but it’s healthier for them as well. Most hummingbirds would rather go without food than drink nectar that has gone bad, so it’s important to keep your feeder clean if you want to continue enjoying their visits.

If ants are a problem, use an ant guard to keep them off of the feeder. It is not recommended to place petroleum jelly or oil on the poles.

This is the best way to keep pesky ants away from the hummingbird feeders. Click Here or on the photo for a closer look and to see other types of ant guards.

Hummingbirds like to bathe frequently — even in the pools of droplets that collect on leaves. Provide your yard with a constant source of water from a drip fountain attachment or a fine misting device.  A misting device is an especially attractive water source for hummingbirds.

You can find various water fountains here:

Hummingbirds also need fluff and spider webs for their nest. They use fluff from seeds (and our dryer vents!) to build their nests. They then use spider webs to hold them together. Leave spider webs in your yard to help them find material to build their nests. Plant flowers that have fluffy seeds like milkweed (or leave some dandelions go to seed!) You can encourage them to nest in your area by providing nesting material with which to line their nest. This soft, cotton material comes with a mesh hanger so you can offer it near your nectar feeder.

This mama hummingbird sitting on her eggs was spotted at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

Help track hummingbirds as they travel to and from their wintering grounds by becoming a citizen scientist and reporting hummingbird sightings at Audobon Hummingbirds Home or at  Journey North.

You can report Hummingbird sightings at Journey North. Click Here or on the photo for details.

And while you are helping migrating hummingbirds you will also be helping migrating Monarch butterflies!

Monarch butterfly nectaring on a hummingbird feeder in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. The butterfly stayed at the feeder for more than a minute, giving me plenty of time to take this photo.

Here is my favorite hummingbird feeder.

This is so easy to clean and maintain.Click Here or on the photo for details..

Here are five of my favorite hummingbird books.

Click on each photo or title for complete details.

Hummingbirds written by Ronald I. Orenstein with photography by Michael Fogden and Patricia Fogden
Hummingbirds of North American: The Photographic Guide by Steve N.G. Howell
A Hummingbird in My House: The Story of Squeak by Arnette Heidcamp
Hummingbirds: A Life-size Guide to Every Species by Michael Fogden, Marianne Taylor, and Sheri L. Williamson
The Hummingbird Book: The Complete Guide to Attracting, Identifying, and Enjoying Hummingbirds by Donald Stokes and Lillian Stokes
USDA has a wonderful pdf you can download about the different species of hummingbirds you can attract by planting native plants. Click here to download.