Dorothy is a Master Gardener, former newspaper reporter, and the author of several books. Michael is a landscape/nature photographer in NM.
The Brighter the Better!
Why Does Everyone Love a Hummingbird?
Gardeners have long been charmed by the beauty of a hummingbird and the wonderful humming sound they make as their iridescent wings flap about 50-70 times per second, so what's not to love? Plus, they are true hoverers, the best of all birds; they can hover and feed for as long as they want (as long as the air remains still enough), giving you ample time to enjoy them.
Also, a hummingbird is very unique in that it can fly up, down, to the right, to the left or even upside down. They can even flap their wings in a figure-8 pattern! No other bird has all of those skills, making them extremely fun to watch.
A hummingbird, although it is very small, is very territorial. I have personally never witnessed it, but there are those who say that watching a tiny hummingbird chase a large hawk away from its food source is a sight to behold. They won't however, attack you and they are not afraid of you. If they approach you, it's merely to see what you have for them to eat, and they will happily drink nectar right out of your hands.
Thanks to the fact that a hummingbird is a backyard favorite of many people who provide food for them, there is only one hummingbird - the hook-billed hermit hummingbird - that is currently listed under the Endangered Species Act, although many others are listed as "vulnerable." There are currently over 300 species of hummingbirds in the world.
(Note: All of the photographs contained in this article were taken by a long-time friend of ours, Larry Jernigan of Heber Springs, Arkansas, and we appreciate his willingness to share so many of his wonderful photographs. Larry had a photography studio in our hometown in Arkansas, then became a chiropractor. He is now retired and takes photographs "for the love of it," so you can expect to see many more of his photos in our future articles).
There Are Many Colorful Hummingbirds
Tips for a Successful Hummingbird Feeder
- Always keep your Hummingbird feeder clean! Don't let the nectar splash around to the edges of the feeder, as it will attract insects. Wipe it often. Always rinse your hummingbird feeder out using hot water; and clean each of the feeding ports with a brush to avoid build-up of mold.
- Re-position your feeder occasionally to trick the bees. Hummingbirds won't have a problem with this, but bees will; once they find a food source and alert other bees, they will only come to the original source and if it has been moved, they just aren't quite smart enough to search for it, so you'll be bee-free until another bee scout stumbles upon your relocated feeder.
- Do your best to keep out bees, wasps and ants by purchasing a feeder with a built-in insect guard and/or trap.
- Change out the nectar in your feeder about twice a week in cool weather, but several times a week during warmer months so that the nectar doesn't spoil. If a hummingbird visits and finds bad nectar, he won't be returning.
- Don't place your feeder near anything in your yard that is yellow - that color attracts insects. If your hummingbird feeder has some yellow on it, paint over it with bright red nail polish.
- The nectar you put in your feeder should closely mimic the nectar found by hummingbirds in flowers, so don't over-sweeten it thinking they will like it more.
- Don't place your feeder too close to a window. I have read many articles that say that placing the feeder close to a window makes viewing more pleasant, but if a hummingbird gets its beak stuck in a screen, the hummingbird won't think it's so pleasant. Place it at least 5-6 feet away; you will still be able to see and your hummingbird should be safe.
- Place your hummingbird feeder in a shady area, as most insects prefer to feed in the bright sunshine. This will also keep your nectar cooled down so it won't spoil so quickly.
- Using fishing line, hang your feeder from a branch of a tree (or a gutter); the line is too thin for the ants to crawl on to gain access to your feeder.
Hummingbirds Doing What They Love to Do!
How to Make Your Own Hummingbird Nectar
You certainly don't have to buy nectar for a hummingbird feeder; you can make your own, using only one part sugar to four parts water. But first, you need to boil the water to eliminate the chlorination and allow the sugar to easily dissolve. Pour the boiled water over the sugar and stir until it is complete dissolved. Let the mixture completely cool down, then fill your feeder and keep the remaining mixture in a marked bottle in the refrigerator. Don't color your sugar-water with food coloring; the hummingbirds won't like it any better. Also, don't try to add brown sugar or honey; remember, you are just trying to mimic nature and that's all the hummingbird wants.
How to Keep Ants, Bees and Wasps Out of Feeder
- Buy a feeder with a built-in insect guard, or a built-in trap.
- Avoid buying a feeder that has anything yellow on it, as bees are attracted to yellow.
- If, despite your best efforts, you still see some bees hanging around your feeder, you might want to put a small bowl of higher-concentration sugar-water in a bowl and place it on the ground away from the feeder. This might lure them away so the beautiful hummingbirds will keep coming back.
Hummingbirds Will Eat Right Out of Your Hand!
The Hummingbird is a True Hoverer
This is an Amazing Video Showing Newborn Hummingbirds Until Their First Flight
Hummingbirds Don't Walk or Hop
A hummingbird only uses its feet for launching itself into flight, or for perching. They don't walk or hop.
A Perched Hummingbird
Read What Other Hubbers Have to Say About Hummingbirds
- Hummingbirds, Little Flying Jewels
My experiences with my friendly ruby-throated hummingbirds have created an amazing and personal connection to the bird world. Feeding them with homemade nectar is easy, and I have included my recipe. Enjoy learning about several other flying jewels,
- Hummingbirds: Facts, Symbolism, Meanings and More
Hummingbirds are the world's smallest birds, but that doesn't mean they can't accomplish the impossible! They can fly fast, migrate thousands of miles and still bring happiness your way.
- The Sounds of Hummingbirds
Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds constantly communicate and vocalize. Read about these ‘songs’ in this article and you will begin to truly hear hummingbirds.
- 55 Facts about Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds are the tiniest warm-blooded animal on earth. This is just one of the 55 facts about these small, flying treasures included in this article.
Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on July 02, 2017:
Thank you Tamara; Larry Jernigan is an amazing photographer, and I'm sooooo lucky he allows me to use his images. I, too, am glad to be your pal.
Tamara Moore on July 02, 2017:
Your posts and pictures are dazzling! They are a great delight! I am glad we are Hub pals, now.
Mike and Dorothy McKenney (author) from United States on July 01, 2017:
Thank you very much! Your photos are simply beautiful.
Larry Jernigan on July 01, 2017:
Dorothy, I love the article and what you did with the images. If there is a direction that you would like to go, tell me, Ihave several thousand images on file and can pull some that could help support your articles. Most of my images are of birds, flowers, and insects.Have a great day, Dr. J