Hummingbirds are some of the tiniest and most beautiful garden creatures you can allure to your home and garden. The first time you see one fluttering along your hedge or wall of flowers – you won’t believe your eyes!
Attracting hummingbirds is also easier than you think – they’re tremendously curious.
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It all starts with understanding how these tiny and colorful birds work – and what entices them the most!
The bodies of the smallest hummingbirds have a working rhythm even precision machines could envy. They can flap their wings more than 50 times per second and migrate for thousands of miles.
To sustain their high-end metabolism, hummingbirds have to eat each 10 to 15 minutes – which translates to visiting 1,000 – 2,000 flowers per day!
When you consider that individual flowers do not provide an endless supply of nectar and get emptied, you can easily see that hummingbirds can suffer from food scarcity that can endanger their lives – especially while embarking on a long migration.
That is why attracting hummingbirds to your balcony or your yard by feeding them doesn’t just benefit you – it is an act of kindness and a great help to ensure the survival of this exceptional (and colorful) bird group.
Even if you are a city-dweller – equipping your balcony with the right set of flowering plants and a hummingbird feeder will go a long way to help your hummingbird neighbors or travelers.
Let me introduce you to some reliable ways to attract hummingbirds to your balcony.
How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Balcony or Garden
There are five great ways to attract hummingbirds to your balcony or garden, which include:
- Plant hummingbird-friendly flowers. Hummingbirds are attracted to nectar-rich, red or orange tubular flowers such as Columbine, Peony, or Cardinal Flower.
- Hang a hummingbird feeder. Fill it with homemade nectar and make sure you replace it every two to three days.
- Provide water for the hummingbirds. Make sure it is kept clean, as stagnant water can be a harbor for pathogens that can harm the hummingbirds.
- Do not use pesticides. Besides nectar, hummingbirds feed on insects, and they use spider webs to build their nests. Pesticides not only cause a decline in insect populations, they are also harmful to birds’ health.
- Keep cats and other predatory pets away to give your hummingbirds a safe place to visit.
1. Plant Hummingbird-Friendly Flowers
The best way to attract any creature is to provide them with a plentiful natural food source.
Hummingbirds feed primarily on nectar and are most attracted to nectar-rich, red or orange tubular flowers. These include:
- Columbine (Aquilegia sp)
- Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
- Peony (Paeonia sp.)
- Hibiscus (Hibiscus sp)
- Bee Balm (Monarda didyma)
- Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
- Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis)
If you get bored of all the redness in your garden, you can try these too:
- Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) – purple
- Yellow bells (Tecoma stans) – yellow (well, obviously).
Planting Tips for Attracting Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds love flowers – and nectar! But – how can you increase your odds of nurturing and supporting hummingbirds in your garden?
Whichever flowers you choose to maintain, keep these extra planting tips in mind!
Despite some plants enjoying universal popularity (example: the cape honeysuckle), it is always best to prioritize the local species!
That way, you’ll ensure that the local hummingbirds have access to the kinds of flowers they’re accustomed to enjoying. Also, native species may have more nectar than exotic ones and are usually easier to grow.
Choose plants not only to their looks and growing conditions but also according to their blooming season. It would be ideal to have a flowering group of plants at any moment.
When pruning your balcony plants, leave some taller branches and sticks to serve as perches for hummingbirds. You can add some decorative tree branches as well.
The best possible thing would be to get your neighbors on board as well. Creating an entire hummingbird-friendly zone is even better than just one balcony.
Did you know?
Hummingbirds, even though they are tiny, are greedy for calories! They burn around 10% of their weight daily and have tremendously fast metabolisms. Imagine how quickly their little bodies burn calories when they fly!
That’s (probably) why some gardeners occasionally see hummingbirds brawling and aggressively buzzing with one another when competing for nectar. They also love to perch on nearby shrubs and hedges to guard their bird feeders!
2. Hang a Hummingbird Feeder
Hummingbird feeders are also an option if you can’t accommodate enough flowering plants or the blooming doesn’t go as expected (it happens even to the best of us, doesn’t it?)
They feature bright colors and shapes that attract the birdies, and you fill them with homemade nectar replacement. Here is how:
- Take four cups of boiling water and one cup of sugar (white) and stir until it dissolves.
- Let the liquid cool completely before filling the feeder.
- In warm weather, this homemade nectar can last only a few days. Be sure to replace it every two to three days.
At this point, you may be wondering, “why should I use white sugar in the hummingbird feeders when we all know how unhealthy it is?”
The answer is simple – because white sugar is so refined, it is the safest to leave dissolved in warm temperatures.
The trouble with honey and some other natural sweeteners that are considered healthier in the human world is that they ferment fast when dissolved, leading to the development of potentially deadly bacteria.
Critical Tip: do not add red dyes or buy red-colored nectar from the store. It could hurt the hummingbird!
This breathtaking hand-blown glass feeder will allure and charm hummingbirds. For sure! It holds 25-ounces of hummingbird nectar that will keep your traveling hummingbirds nourished - and satisfied. It's also red!
3. Provide Water
Although they technically drink their food, hummingbirds need water like any living creature. Also, to the joy of all the onlookers, they love to bathe.
That is why each hummingbird-friendly balcony should incorporate a birdbath. Ideally, the water should not be entirely stagnant but come from a source of running clean water, such as a drip fountain.
Keep in mind! Birdbaths must be cleaned regularly with appropriate, bird-friendly disinfectants as warm, stagnant water can, unfortunately, be a tremendous harbor for pathogens.
4. Do Not Use Pesticides!
Besides nectar, hummingbirds also consume insects, and their young eat them exclusively. Also, did you know that hummingbirds use spider webs when building their nests? How cool is that!
Unfortunately, the number of insects and other arthropods is in steep decline worldwide – not only but in part due to wide pesticide use.
Also, birds can accumulate these chemicals through their diet, negatively influencing their health and reproductive capacity.
Since pesticides are a clear danger to birds – it is a no-brainer to eliminate them from our balconies.
After all, many beneficial garden creatures such as predatory insects and spiders will thank you for it through their services. The same goes for our pollinator allies – bees and butterflies.
However, if you live in a building where using pesticides on green surfaces is a part of maintenance? Then going pesticide-free might be more challenging.
Still, it is not impossible!
Try to activate like-minded neighbors and write to your local council on the issue. Remember that pesticides are harmful to human health too! That can make an excellent argument.
This beautiful hummingbird feeder holds 10 ounces of nectar and has four feeding ports. The bright ruby-red frame will call hummingbirds - and the bee-guards will prevent honeybees from swarming the birdfeeder.
5. Keep the Cats Away!
Loose cats are extremely dangerous for small birds. They are the second-most-common anthropogenic cause of bird deaths, right after window collisions.
Although hummingbirds look tremendously fast, the fact is they can succumb to cat attacks just as easily as other birdies – both when standing and while in flight.
If you own a feline and any bird feeder, make sure that it cannot stalk and catch birds. Limiting or forbidding kitty balcony time is the most straightforward way to prevent the problem. Other solutions include:
- Placing your hummingbird feeder as high as possible.
- Make sure cats can’t climb on tall plants or other structures to reach the feeder.
- Creating a thorny plant zone around the feeder to deter your cat from jumping on it.
Many fatal falls from balconies or windows happen to cats when they stalk birds and get carried away. Secure your windows – and keep your kitties (and hummingbirds) safe!
Did you know?
The Rufous Hummingbird is a record holder for one of the longest bird migration paths in the world in proportion to body size. The 3,900-mile journey it makes equals about 78.4 million hummingbird body lengths!
Any brave traveler needs a little help from good people on the way – and hummingbirds are no different.
By attracting hummingbirds to your balcony, you are not just letting yourself enjoy the sight of these tiny flying jewels.
You are also actively helping them pull through the numerous pressures our civilizations have put on them.
The best part is that hummingbirds are marvelous to watch! If you’ve never seen one – we guarantee you’ll crack a smile the first time one enters your domain.
Thanks again for reading – and if you have questions about how to attract hummingbirds, we’d love to hear them!
Please have a wonderful day.
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