Find fun hummingbird facts and tips for attracting Hummingbirds to your garden. You’ll also find a hummingbird nectar recipe to slow down spoilage and the best way to clean your feeders.
Summer is winding down but the hummingbird visits at the
feeders and in the garden are picking up here in North Carolina!
Hummingbird sightings had been fewer in number until recently,
but I decided to Keep Calm and Hummingbird On,
refilling the feeders with fresh nectar in anticipation of their arrival.
I always get a thrill when I see these fearless flyers go zipping by,
dashing from flower to feeder.
It seems they spend more time defending their territory and food sources,
than actually feeding. ;)
This post contains affiliate links. For more information see my disclosure policy.
Hummingbirds’ wings move in figure-eight patterns,
allowing them to hover in midair and fly backwards.
Their wings beat more than 50 times per second,
requiring them to feed every 10 to 15 minutes.
Hummingbird nectar is easy to make with white refined sugar and water,
mixing in a ratio of 1:4, sugar to water.
Note: Do not use red dye, “raw” sugar, honey or sugar substitutes.
Plain white table sugar mixed with water mimics the chemical composition of natural nectar.
Do not use organic, natural, or raw sugars as they contain levels of iron that could be harmful.
Also, do not use honey, which can cause fermentation, promoting bacteria and fungal growth.
Avoid red dye in your sugar water which may be harmful to hummingbirds.
To mix your nectar, combine four parts hot water to one part sugar.
Mix it until it’s completely dissolved.
Once it cools to room temperature, it’s ready to go.
Boiled tap water is the preferred water to use.
Using boiled water removes any potentially harmful bacteria, chlorine,
fluorides, etc. that hummers don’t need.
I mix up a quart at a time (1 cup of sugar and 4 cups of water).
After the sugar is dissolved and has cooled, I store it in the fridge to have on hand for quick refilling.
Nectar spoils quickly in hot weather so clean your feeder every time you refill!
I only fill my feeders about 1/2 full, as I empty, clean and refill
every 2 – 3 days with our 90+ August temperatures.
Avoid soap to clean your feeders as hummingbirds can taste the soap/detergent residue.
To clean and kill bacteria and mold in your hummingbird feeder,
use a bleach/water mixture, mixing 1 part bleach to 10 parts water,
filling your feeder and allowing the bleach water to stand 15 minutes.
Rinse well and allow to air dry before refilling.
I discovered Hummingbird Feeder Fresh Nectar Defender a couple of years ago,
which slows down spoilage!
It’s an all-natural product that protects the freshness of hummingbird nectar
and is safe for hummers. It uses a micronutrient, copper,
naturally consumed by hummingbirds in their diet of nectar and insects.
A bottle will last an entire season as you only need 1 tablespoon per quart of nectar.
I add it to my batch of nectar after it has cooled.
It says it will keep your nectar fresh in hot weather up to 2 weeks.
Note: Even with the addition of Feeder Fresh, I don’t go longer than a week before cleaning and refilling my feeders,
but it does allow me to feel the nectar is safe in hot weather
and I can skip the every 2 – 3 day cleaning / refilling.
Ant moats will keep your hummingbird feeders ant-free!
I like that this is a chemical-free way to keep your feeders free of ants,
as only water is required in the moat.
You do have to be diligent about refilling them with water due to evaporation.
If possible, place your feeder near trees.
Hummingbirds are territorial and like to perch in nearby trees
to chase away intruders at their feeding area.
While a small number or Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will winter in Florida and along the Gulf coast,
most will overwinter in Central America. You have to be a fearless flyer to make a nonstop flight
of more than 500 miles across the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico!
It also means that hummingbirds need to double their body mass with a steady diet
of nectar and insects prior to their migration in the fall.
Hummingbirds are a prolific pollinator of flowers.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds deposit 10 times as much pollen as bumblebees.
Hummingbirds like flowers that produce a lot of nectar, such as bee balm, salvias,
weigela, trumpet honeysuckle and other trumpet vines, cardinal flower, petunias
or anything that is tubular in shape.
There are 320 species of hummingbirds, but only 14 breed in North America, and only one,
the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, can be found east of the Mississippi River.
In terms of area however, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds occupy the largest breeding
range of any of the North American hummingbird species.
Male Ruby-throats have a distinctive ruby-red throat, hence the name.
Females are greenish, with a white throat and a notched tail,
while juvenile males resemble adult females.
It’s a myth that leaving hummingbird feeders up too late in the fall will prevent the birds from migrating.
Hummingbirds have an internal clock regulated by the changing day length,
which lets them know when it’s time to go.
As a general rule, leave your feeder up for two weeks after you have seen your last hummingbird.
There might be one or two stragglers migrating in need of a rest stop to refuel.
These fearless flyers reach speeds of up to 37 mph and up to 60 mph in courtship dives.
While resting, the average 4-inch hummingbird takes about 150 breaths per minute.
Banding research shows hummingbirds are likely to return to the area
where they were born and visit the same feeders and flowers every year.
The oldest known Ruby-throated Hummingbird was a female and at least 9 years, 2 months old
when she was recaptured and rereleased in 2014, during banding operations in West Virginia.
We had a surprise visitor at our hummingbird feeder, a Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly.
I think this hummer was as surprised as I was to find a butterfly visitor at the feeder.
I think this hummer was as surprised as I was to find a butterfly visitor at the feeder!
Are you seeing and feeding hummingbirds in your neck of the woods?
Hope you’re enjoying these fearless flyers and the last days of summer. ♥
Beautiful photos. What amazing creatures Hummingbirds are. We don’t get them at all in England or anywhere else in Europe in the wild I checked so I will have to content myself with your photos.
Hi Margaret, I didn’t realize hummingbirds were exclusive to North and South America. I’m sorry don’t have them zipping around your gardens in the UK, they’re entertaining to watch. Thank you for your visit and comment!
Only fill your hummingbird feeder half full. I changed my nectar every 4 to 5 days. I have 2 male hummingbirds that roost on my patio all day long.
I live in South Carolina and I have about 5 or 6 hummingbirds fluttering around my yard and I love to watch them. I have about 6 feeders out and they come and feed and I get to look at these amazing birds. Love it and I would like to attract more next year. Watching them brings me such joy.
Love these beautif flying angels but i have problem with bees they. Keep chasing my birds away. Any suggestiond
Hummingbirds are regular visitors in my yard. We love them dearly. I also love butterflies. I have flowers and feeders to attract them. Like you, I am always photographing them. How special that you had a butterfly and hummingbird at your feeder at the same time and were able to capture them in photos.
Hi Donna, We love watching them along with the butterflies. I’m still waiting to see a Monarch butterfly this year, fingers crossed! Thank you for your visit and comment. ♥
So many fabulous captures, my heart fluttered at the hummer and butterfly together! My feeders are off my kitchen window, all I see is fighting, a friend has dozens sharing at a time, I just have dueling…
I also love my hummingbirds, I can sit on my deck for hours watching then. Just enjoy them so much.
My hummingbirds arrive about mid April and are regular visitors to our 2 feeders but in August the activity increases. I assume their young have fledged and have joined ed their parents in the gardens where they chase each other away from flowers as well as the feeders. We call it the hummer wars and are entertained watching them as we sit out on the porch. They will leave mid Sept. and are missed and we,are sorelieved when they show up again next spring. Your photos are amazing. Thankyou.
‘Hummer wars’ is an apt description Kathy. :) We used to have them show up like clockwork on tax day, April 15th, before we moved to the lake. We don’t see them much here until August when they swarm the feeders. Happy Friday ♥
When we bring the feeder in for cleaning and refilling, the male hummingbird comes to our window and looks inside as if to say, “Hurry! I’m hungry.” They are so much fun to watch and we look forward to their return every spring.
So funny Ann! They are so entertaining, I’ll be sad to see them go. Happy Friday. ♥
Wonderful story today. Your pictures are beautiful but the one with the hummingbird and butterfly is beyond words! I see hummingbirds daily and love watching them while sitting on my porch. Peace.
Thank you Cindi! We love watching them too. Happy Friday. ♥
I have a picture of a lizard drinking from the bottom of one of feeders. I think I have a leak. But it was so cute ☺️.
We live in south, central PA. We really enjoy watching the humming birds so much. We have seen mostly ruby throated hummingbirds but also have seen a black chinned humming bird at our feeder. My son says they get calliope hummingbirds at their feeders at their family cabin. Thanks for your article, it was quite interesting!
Thanks for the info. one thing I added for my hummers is a swing…I positioned the tiny swing on a garden hook close to the feeder..the hummers will sit on it and swing and mainly use it for a lookout to keep an eye on their feeder. The other thing I have learned is that the Preying Mantis is a predator of hummers. I didn’t know this until several years ago, I happen to seen a mantis on my feeder hook just about to grab a hummer..I quickly removed the mantis and repositioned it to another garden further from the feeder…from them on, if I see a mantis, even underneath in the flowers, I remove it to someplace else. Note, when removing a mantis, wear gloves…they will bite…they are carnivores! And, I know we have the same hummers return when it’s time for them to show up, they will dance in front of my windows front and back…I have 3 feeders…1 in the front and 2 in the back! I’ve even had them tap on my windows…it’s hilarious!!
Hi Ellen, Too funny about your dancing hummers. :) I could swear one was trying to tell me to freshen ‘his’ feeder a couple of weekends ago. I’ve heard about Praying mantises being predators to hummers but never seen one by our feeders. Happy Friday. ♥
Good morning, Mary! I have a beautiful hummingbird feeder and I use the nectar defender but still haven’t seen any hummingbirds. 😢
Your photos are so pretty and I love that the beautiful butterfly visited too. ❤️
I can’t believe you don’t have hummers visit your garden Kitty, especially with the sound of your water feature in your backyard! Hope springs eternal, maybe one will show up yet. :) Happy Friday ♥
Great information Mary, thank you. They are truly amazing little birds! I too keep their drink in the frig so it’s nice and cold when I switch out a clean feeder for the used one, making sure I am changing frequently in the extra hot weather. I had my feeder on a pole off of our deck, for excellent viewing from the kitchen table, but those crazy squirrels found it and literally chewed through the flowers on the base, making a hole in it. They would use one paw to hold onto the pole and with the other paw, tip the base to their mouth, chug-a-lugging the drink down! I had to move the hummingbird feeder out to the middle of my yard where my squirrel proof bird feeder is and was concerned that they wouldn’t find it, but they did. I have to sit at the picnic table on the deck to see them now, but at least the squirrels aren’t getting any “sweet tea”, lol!
In your photo collage – you show a hummer in a purple flower (bottom right corner). I planted one in my garden and can’t remember the name of the plant- can you tell me what it is? It is the absolute favorite of my hummingbirds – want to plant more!
Hi Kay, It’s a salvia and hummingbird favorite! I’m not sure which variety, it looks like Bodacious® ‘Smokey Jazz’ Salvia. :)
Good morning Mary, we have lots of hummers. They stay year round. I have 4 feeders. It’s a joy to watch them. Most of the time, they get along and share. I love the ant moats, they do work. You do have to be diligent in the hot summer months to keep them filled. You have captured some beautiful photos. I adore the butterfly and the hummingbird together.
Hi Linda, I envy you having them year ’round, I’ll be sorry to see ours leave in a few weeks. Happy Friday ♥
Your hummers are so lucky to have your gorgeous garden of food choices! I’m south of you and find my hummers arrive about mid-March on their way North. I usually host a couple all season. Their return begins mid-July with the largest numbers between mid-August to mid-September and my last little one usually leaves by mid-to-late-October. One winter, I had a Rufous Hummer in January but I fear he didn’t survive the cold overnight as I only saw him one day. I’ve noticed a decline in numbers over the last 10 years or so – I hope they are just staying in your garden longer. I’ve always used white vinegar to clean my feeders – but I have to refill them daily (sometimes twice a day) because I don’t have a garden. Thank you for your beautiful photos and your educational posts. I look forward to and really enjoy your blog!
Hi Amma! When we lived in Charlotte, we had them arrive like clockwork in mid-April. For whatever reason, we don’t see them much until July at the lake. I can’t imagine having a Rufous visit, he was way off course! I’d like to think he survived and just moved on (wishful thinking). Thank you for your visits and comment. ♥
Each year mom and I would watch for our scout hummer to return. He would usually arrive around mom’s birthday, April 24. I lost mom this year at the age of 99, so hummingbirds will always be very special to me. They are frantic at my feeders right now bulking up for the long journey. I always hate to see the go, but will anxiously await their return on mom’s birthday in 2023.
That makes me teary eyed Gayle. So sorry to hear about your mom but what sweet reminder of her when your hummer arrives next year. My birthday is the 27th, my sister’s is the 29th and I have two SILs with birthdays the 25th and 30th. :) I hate to see them go too. Thank you for your visit. ♥
I so enjoyed reading all the info about hummingbirds Mary, such amazing creatures! I can’t believe the tiny birds can fly all the way to Central America~ your photos are incredible, especially the ones with the butterflies. It sounds like a true labor of love to tend to the feeders, your dedication is admirable!
Thank you Jenna, yes, a labor for love for sure but they are so fun to watch! I’ll be sad to see them leave. Happy Friday ♥
Good morning, Mary. Great photos of hummingbirds. Love the shots of the hummingbird and butterflies. We have had more hummingbirds this summer than ever before. We don’t have feeders, we just never got around to buying any. They have particularly loved my small cottage garden with the zinnias and cosmos. Thank you for all the info, hummingbirds are amazing to watch. Happy Friday!
They are amazing to watch Pam! Happy weekend to you. ♥
My Grandson recently found a hummer stuck in their window screen. He held it to the feeder so it could rehydrate. Such a special moment for him.
Aww… so glad he was able to rescue it Dana! It warms my heart. ♥
Mary, Thanks for all the info about hummingbirds. I always learn something new! I also appreciate the reminder about cleaning and filling the feeders. They we’re always a favorite of my Mom and I have always been fascinated by them as well. Happy Friday! Clara❤️
Thank you for your visit Clara! They add so much life to the garden as they zip around and chirp. :) Wishing you a wonderful weekend. ♥
Such beautiful photos! We love our hummingbirds here in Pennsylvania and in Arizona! The ones here are starting to eat lots… so they are ready for their migration.
How fun was it to have a butterfly at your feeder.
Thank you for all the information.
Have a lovely weekend!
Hi Nancy, Lucky you! You get to see so many different varieties of hummingbirds in Arizona! Happy Weekend ♥
Mary, I need to get a humming bird feeder. I have the occasional hummer in my garden, but I need to attract more and provide them fuel. I am so taken by this post, it has sparked an idea for a garden club program sometime. I need to research for speakers. Beautiful photos as always. Lucky hummers who stop by your stations.
You would so enjoy seeing them stop by your feeder and refuel Sarah! It would be a fun program for your garden too. Happy Weekend ♥
Enjoyed all the information on the hummingbirds and the care of the feeders. The hummingbirds sure burn through a lot of energy; it must be exhausting to make the annual migration! We have a steady stream of hummingbirds on our property. They are all willing to come extremely close to us, so I presume they are returning guests who are familiar with us, or at least in-the-know as to who fills the feeders. I love sitting in the yard watching them make thier rounds!
They are so fun to watch Betsy! You have a lot more varieties to visit than we do zipping around your property, lucky you! Happy Weekend ♥
Love all this information. It’s so valuable for thise interested in nurturing hummers, and everything i did when I kept feeders (except that organic additive, nice!). This year I’ve let the garden be the feeder, and I also had a pipevine swa)owtail visit a few days ago! The hummers are also noted by fellow gardeners here as more frequent recently. I feel like the hummingbird is my spirit creature. My resting pulse is typically around 100, and I often feel like I go 37 mph at least, not to mention my frequent meals.
Thanks for always sharing good garden information, not to mention beautiful posts. Have a great weekend.
Ha, you’re too funny Rita! That’s why you’re so slim…your high metabolic rate and all your activity. :) Happy Weekend ♥
We don’t have to worry about leaving half full, or emptying and cleaning, or spoilage. We have so many birds that they empty three 32oz feeders in 2 days and a 16oz one daily. We are going through over 2 gallons a week!
Wow, that’s a lot of hummingbirds! Where do you live and what varieties visit your feeders?
Loved your photos of the butterfly and the hummer, Mary!
We have two kinds of hummingbirds here in western Washington, the Rufous and Anna’s. The Anna’s stay year round. In the winter, when we get a freezing spell, many of us put out heated feeders to get them through the cold weather. And do they ever flock to those feeders!
Watching and feeding these colored jewels is so much fun!
Thanks you for your informative and beautiful post, Mary.
Thank you for sharing informations about the hummies. This is the first I have them in my garden and I enjoyed them immensely. Thank for the tips too. ❤️
When we lived in Ohio we had a few hummingbirds and beautiful butterflies we have moved to Kentucky and we have probably 25 maybe more we have to fill up the feeders every day we have three large feeders and we enjoy them so much and hate to see them leave we also have the yellow and black monarch butterflies and then today we seen an orange one they are beautiful I love to read all the comments about the Hummingbirds