June 14, 2024
Tips for how to attract hummingbirds to your NC garden

Spring is prime time for gardening, and if you like the idea of having hummingbirds in your yard throughout the season, there are steps you can take while planning your garden to up your chances of seeing them.

Certain types of flowers, even certain colors, are known to attract the tiny, fluttering birds. And there are other features you can add to your yard to add to its appeal, too.

Still, experts say, if you’re going to put together a hummingbird habitat, you need to take steps to keep the birds in your area healthy.

Here’s what to know about how to attract hummingbirds to your yard this spring:

What flowers attract hummingbirds?

Brightly colored and nectar-rich flowers are best for attracting hummingbirds, the Old Farmer’s Almanac advises.

That includes plants such as:

The Almanac recommends choosing “varieties in red and orange shades” and leaving “lots of space between plants to give hummingbirds enough room to hover and navigate from flower to flower.”

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only type of hummingbird “that breeds in the eastern United States,” according to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. They tend to migrate to the region in spring, the U.S. Forest Service says, after spending winter in Mexico and Central America.

There are, however, multiple other types of hummingbirds sometimes spotted in North Carolina, the museum notes.

Do hummingbirds use bird feeders?

In addition to flowers, hummingbirds will also eat from nectar feeders.

Models can be found at garden supply stores and major retailers such as Amazon, Walmart and Etsy. They range in price from less than $10 to about $50.

If you’re going to commit to a hummingbird nectar feeder, make sure to keep it clean and full, the SPCA notes, in order to avoid harming the birds.

“Feeders often attract unusually large numbers of hummingbirds to one area — this can be a joy to watch, but also means any fungus or bacteria in the feeder will affect many birds. These infections can cause their tongues to swell and often result in death, a sad outcome for birds and bird lovers,” the group says. “Feeders that are left empty or left to freeze can also lead to starvation for the birds that have come to rely on them.”

If you’re going to make your own nectar to put in the feeder, the SPCA recommends you “never use honey, sweeteners, molasses, brown or raw sugar” in your mixture — only white sugar. You also shouldn’t add any food coloring to your mixture, the group advises.

What else attracts hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds are also attracted to water, the Old Farmer’s Almanac notes, “especially if it’s moving.”

They also like shade, the Almanac notes.

“Herbs, flowering shrubs, dwarf trees and vines can all be used to create an ideal tiered habitat from ground level to 10 feet or more,” it says.

This tale was originally released March 30, 2023, 1:37 PM.

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Mary Ramsey is a company journalism reporter with The Charlotte Observer. A native of the Carolinas, she studied journalism at the University of South Carolina and has also labored in Phoenix, Arizona and Louisville, Kentucky.
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