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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Attracting more than your share of Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds usually start appearing in north Texas in mid-March and leave around the end of September.  Here’s how to attract them to your yard. 

Put up more than one feeder – There should be several. Enough spots for Hummingbirds to sip nectar without waiting in line. Put feeders far enough apart so a “bully” Hummingbird can’t stand guard over several of them. Hummingbirds are attracted to all bright colors. Nectar feeders in your yard, if not colorful already, can be made more enticing simply by fastening a piece of bright ribbon to them.

Keep nectar fresh – Fresh nectar attracts them, and stale repels them. If they get a sip of stale nectar at your house, they won’t bring fledglings or friends by. Nectar gets stale quickly on a super-hot Texas day. We change nectar every 6 or 7 days normally. But when it’s really hot, we’ll go to every third day. And keep nectar clear - no red dye!

Plant large masses of hummer plants – Hummingbirds look for nectar from flowers in addition to feeders. Some plants have sweeter nectar than others. Birds know this, and are drawn to them (so are butterflies) and often encourage their youngsters to feed there. I strongly urge you to plant masses of plants (a clump of least a dozen) since hummers may not bother if all they see is just a plant or two.

Water source   Just like humans, Hummingbirds need something to drink with meals. Water from a dripper or mister on a birdbath is ideal (a dripping faucet works too). They’ll use it to drink, to bathe, and just to play in.         


Save your money for things that work        Things like fake owls and fake snakes don’t scare away nuisance birds – except for maybe the first half-an-hour after you put them up. It’s well known that birds quickly get accustomed to inanimate objects, whatever they’re shaped like. What an effective “shoo” device needs is a second component, in addition to the visual. Unpredictable motion! Balloons or old CDs hung on a string have movement when they blow in the wind, which makes birds nervous.

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