Birdhouses 101 - Hummingbird Houses

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Hummingbird Houses

Hummingbirds are brightly colored birds with slender pointed bill and long narrow wings that usually live in forests. They feed on insects and spiders and they suck or lap-up flower nectar with their long tongue. Their delicate cup-shaped nests are usually built of plant down and spider webs and are often less than 1 inch in diameter. The female lays two small eggs.

It is by the very nature of Hummingbirds why a regular birdhouse will not be attractive to them. The closest which humans can offer to Hummingbirds is a platform in a suitable habitat. The best one is provided by a Hummingbird garden that has a generous variety of trees, shrubs, vines and flowers that can be perennials or annuals. A Hummingbird garden is an excellent addition to a feeder to effectively attract this bird specie. Essentially, the garden itself would be considered the Hummingbird’s “home” with no definite structure to be called the Hummingbird house.

Hummingbirds feed by sight on regularly followed routes and their inquisitive nature lead them to investigate at possible new sources of food. A carefully planned selection of plants that flower at successfully later dates will ensure the presence of happy Hummingbirds throughout the season. The use of pesticides around Hummingbird plants should definitely be avoided since there is a great possibility that the Hummingbird would directly ingest the chemicals sprayed unto flowers.

The flowers that attract Hummingbirds have little or no fragrances as they have virtually no sense of smell. Their resources are apparently directed towards high visibility and nectar production. Examples of these flowers are Cardinal Flower, Petunia and Bee Balm.

A Hummingbird enthusiast’s backyard will simply be irresistible when there are feeders the contain flower nectar and sugar water. Hummingbirds get the energy they need to maintain their astonishing metabolism primarily from these. Sugar serves as the fuel to enable them to get their real nourishment – bugs. Hovering, which is what is being done by Hummingbirds as they drink from one feeder port to another, is considerably more tiring than normal flight.

Attracting Hummingbirds to stay in one’s backyard would need the provision of the source of nutrition, places to perch and rest and a good water source. Hummingbirds usually perch and rest during the day and sleep at night. The locations of choice are trees and large plants such as Cacti.

A Hummingbird is one of those bird species that do not fancy any kind of man-made nesting structure. They are in good company with Cardinals, Catbirds, Northern Mockingbirds and Orioles. These bird species may use platforms placed in trees and shrubs although nothing can guarantee it.

Male Hummingbirds migrate earlier for a reason. The earliest ones have their choice of the best territories which greatly improve their chances of attracting females for breeding. One downside of this however is the risk of arriving before food is plentiful. Females who will soon nest will find more and better-developed flowers on the spring migration route to compensate for leaving late.

There is nothing anyone can do to make the Hummingbirds stay longer than they need to. They migrate in response to hormonal changes, triggered by decreasing length of daylight. It is not necessary to stop feeding them to force them to go south. One way of providing for them is to continue maintaining at least one feeder for a week or two after they depart for those that are unable to migrate on schedule. That is probably more useful than any Hummingbird house anyone can offer.

Readers Comments

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John NJ  2/17/2008)
Why would title an article Hummingbird Houses when it reads A Hummingbird is one of those bird species that do not fancy any kind of man-made nesting structure. ???

Jeanette Mobley  3/17/2008)
I have a Hummingbird nest every year. My problem is there are many cats and crows in my neighborhood. Is there a house I could purchase for the tree they always nest in. Other helpful hints on their protection would be appreciated. Thanks

L A  5/10/2008)
Is there a good homemade recipe for the nectar used in humming bird food feeders?

Chjelsea`   5/16/2008)
one cup sugar to three cups water,add bright food coloring

chris ny  5/26/2008)
actually its 4 parts water to 1 part sugar, and NO FOOD COLORING. most feeders are red to begin with and the food coloring could hurt the birds long term.

Dusty MN  5/29/2008)
Ive had them hummers here for 15 years, I use a simple feder clear top and red bottom, my mixture is 1 cup of sugar to 1.5 cups of water mix the ammount needed and then bring to a boil, let cool, about 15-20 min & put in your feeders NO COLORING it makes thier tummys upset, same wiht that store bought crap. :-)

Bill TN  5/25/2016)
I've been making my nectar 11 sugar to water for 10 years now and I have at least 20 birds every year. Some I recognize 2-3 years in a row. They always seem healthy and drain the 3-32oz feeders in 3 days. But everywhere I read that this is too high a concentration. Does anyone have a definitive answer? I doubt it.

Bonnie  D  5/25/2016)
Maybe because most people would not know they do not like such structures and would look for information about housing them under an article title Hummingbird Houses.

Regina TN  5/25/2016)
DO NOT put food coloring in the Hummingbird necture. It has been prove bad for them. It makes no difference to the bird.

Kathy UT  5/25/2016)
I have had many types of Hummers for 15yrs, I have always heard and have always used 1part sugar to 4 parts water and I believe that they always been happy. They always come back and that makes me happy!!!

Mike Ark   5/25/2016)
Actually Chris NY is right!

Ginni   5/25/2016)
Metro Portland OR has been in snow & freezing weather for 9 days. I've been taking the hummers' feeder in & out every hour to keep it thawed. You know how skitish hummers are. Sat, on a trip back out a hummer saw me with the feeder. He flew right at me, stopped a few inches from my face & ate his fill from the feeder. He even lit on the feeder & sat there for a few seconds. Since Sun, I have been able to stand next to the feeder, whistle for the hummer and he comes flying right to me. He will eat and then go back to a spot in the aborvitae, 15 feet away. I just had to share this.

janice   5/25/2016)
I did the 3 parts water (unboiled) to 1 part sugar and the hummers LOVED it. I've had to set up several feeding stations around different parts of my yard otherwise we had constant "hummer warz" as my kids called it, because they are so territorial.

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