Blog / Attracting Birds
With their iridescent feathers and shimmering wings, hummingbirds bring quick bursts of color into our backyards! Many of us look for brightly colored flowers and feeders when trying to attract hummingbirds. Color can help birds remember food sources, signal danger and even find a mate. But what colors are hummingbirds actually attracted to?
As you look for an attractive hummingbird feeder, chances are you’ll find an abundance of red, red and more red! Why do hummingbirds seem to gravitate towards this fiery color? Researchers have studied to find the answer to this tricky question.
To understand how hummingbirds perceive color, it’s helpful to first think about the color spectrum humans are capable of seeing. Humans have three types of color cones – red, green and blue, allowing us to see all the colors of the rainbow (spectral hues). Nonspectral hues are considered colors seen outside of the rainbow. For example, we can perceive the color purple because it stimulates our red and blue color cones simultaneously.
Hummingbirds have four color cone types in their eyes, creating color possibilities that we can only dream of! Hummingbirds are able to see a variety of nonspectral colors in near UV, including UV+red, UV+green, UV+yellow and purple. And while research has shown that hummingbirds have a heightened sensitivity to the red and yellow end of the color spectrum, they’re also attracted to many more colors that humans can only imagine - so don't let that limit your feeder choices!
Expand your color palette
Now that you understand the range of hues that hummingbirds can see, don’t be afraid to try out new colors and types of feeders that will both attract the birds and beautify your backyard. We have a wide variety of bright and bold styles of handblown glass feeders in reds, pinks or blues, like the Artisan Gravity Hummingbird Feeder - Sunny Day or our best-selling Illuminated Hummingbird Feeder with a solar-powered LED light.
Or give our So Real Series a try, with realistic flowers in oranges and reds, like the So Real Mini 3D Hummingbird Feeder, or pinks, and purples, like the So Real Gravity Hummingbird Feeder - Pink Fuchsia.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a traditional red hummingbird feeder! Our Traditional Window Hummingbird Feeder will mount right onto your window for the closest hummingbird viewing. Or a Traditional Gravity Hummingbird Feeder might be just what you’re looking for.
It’s all about the nectar
More important than the color of the feeder is what’s inside of it. Be sure to reward the hummingbirds with sweet homemade nectar and soon you’ll be enjoying regular visits from your feathered friends!
You found the perfect bird feeder. You picked a great spot in your yard. You filled it with seed. And now you wait patiently (or impatiently) for your first visitor! But what if you’re not getting many – or any – birds at your new feeder?
First things first – why aren’t the birds coming to my feeder? There are many factors that could be causing a bird to choose a different source of food. One thing to keep in mind is that birds are creatures of habit. They may be hesitant to try out a new feeder, especially if you have been offering seed in other feeders – a tried and true food source. It may also take some time for the birds to get used to a new landing pattern or learn the mechanics of getting out the seed.
Here are some tips and tricks to try to attract birds to a new bird feeder!
Choose the right location
If you already own and are having success with other bird feeders, try placing the new feeder near the existing feeders. Place your feeder roughly 10 feet from a natural shelter such as trees or shrubs to offer a resting place for birds between feedings and quick refuge from any predators. Be careful not to put feeders much closer than 10 feet from trees or shrubs since it can increase the likelihood of squirrels. Remember, feeders should be hung or mounted closer than 3 feet from a window or farther than 15 feet from a window to help prevent fatal window collisions.
Try a new seed type
Offer a universally popular type of seed in your feeder, even if the feeder will eventually be filled with a different type of seed. Try using black oil sunflower seed or a blend with a high concentration of black oil sunflower seeds as this feed attracts the widest variety of birds and is the healthiest option for them. Be aware that certain seed types, like thistle/Nyger, can spoil quickly. It’s important to regularly inspect and change out seed to keep it fresh. Once the birds are accustomed to using the new feeder you can gradually mix in a different type of seed to attract new birds. Here is a list of seed types that attract specific types of birds.
Take down other feeders
Birds may prefer to feed from dependable food sources like existing feeders. If you have other bird feeders in your yard, try temporarily taking them down until the birds find and use the new feeder. Once they are regularly using the new feeder, existing feeders can go back up.
Keep it clean
Even if your feeder hasn’t had many visitors yet, changes in weather or heat can cause dirt or bacteria to form on a new feeder after a few weeks. Feeders should be cleaned at least once a month. Clean bird feeders and feeding areas will attract more birds and keep all backyard birds healthier for you to enjoy!
Timing is key
There is no “wrong” time to put up a new feeder, but there are a few factors that may cause the birds a delay in using a new feeder at certain times throughout the year.
- Nesting: When nesting and caring for their hatchlings, many birds focus on eating other food sources, like insects, for additional nutrition and protein. Feeders can naturally experience a lull in visitors at these times.
- Dietary requirements: Almost all birds have different dietary needs depending on the time of year due to their breeding, nesting and migration patterns, so they may move to or away from feeders seasonally.
- Food availability: There are typically fewer birds frequenting feeders during the late summer and early fall months. This is because there are usually lots of alternative natural food sources available. Birds eat insects, spiders, seeds, nuts, berries, fruit, worms, and more. When these are easy to find and abundant, most birds prefer them.
It may take several weeks before the birds find and begin feeding regularly from a new feeder. Before making any changes, try waiting at least two weeks to give the birds enough time to discover your feeder. As you try new locations, seed types or other changes, be sure to give the birds enough time in between to acclimate to the new modifications.
It can require some patience as the birds adjust to using a new feeder, but with persistence and perseverance it will be worth the wait when you start to receive regular visitors at your feeder!
Identifying Baltimore Orioles:
Slightly smaller and more slender than an American Robin, Baltimore Orioles range from 6.7 to 7.5 inches in length and feature long legs, a thick neck, and long pointed bills. Adult male Baltimore Orioles have black feathers on their head and wings, bright orange tell-tale plumage on their chest and underside, and a single solid white bar on each wing. Females and immature males are a more muted yellow-orange with grayish shading on the head, and gray wings with two white bars on each wing.
Above left: A female Baltimore Oriole on a specialized jelly and orange feeder.
Above right: A male Baltimore Oriole on a specialized feeder offering nectar, jelly, and oranges.
Where Baltimore Orioles Live:
Baltimore Orioles are a migratory bird that breed in the eastern portion of the United States and South-central Canada during summer months. Keep an eye out for these birds arriving from early April to mid-May. Their season is short, with some departing as early as late July for wintering grounds in Florida, the Caribbean, and Central America.
How to Attract Baltimore Orioles to Your Feeder:
These birds are often heard more than seen as they typically forage high in trees for insects, flowers, and fruit. They tend to be more skittish than other backyard birds, but you can be successful in attracting them to feeders. One of the simplest ways to attract Baltimore Orioles to your yard is to set up an oriole feeder.
Maintaining a clean feeder is always important for the health of your birds, but is even more important when offering feeds rich in sugar as these feeds can spoil quickly, especially in the hot summer weather. It is recommended oriole feeders be cleaned every 4-5 days. To clean, take down your feeder and discard any unconsumed jelly or fruit. Flush feeder with warm water. Scrub using either a mild solution of unscented dish detergent and warm water, or sanitize using a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry completely before refilling.
What Baltimore Orioles Eat:
In the spring and fall, a Baltimore Oriole's diet is composed mainly of nectar and ripe fruit. Including flowering trees and shrubs such as crabapple and mulberries in your landscaping can help to draw these birds to your yard. The most common food offering for Baltimore Oriole's are oranges, which can be sliced in half and placed in a specialized feeder, or even nailed directly to a tree (or impaled through a smaller branch). A slightly more specialized feeder can allow the offering of additional feed options, such as nectar (sugar water) and grape jelly.
While breeding and feeding their young, a significant portion of the Baltimore Oriole's diet consists of protein-rich insects. Not overall picky, these birds will consume a wide variety of beetles, crickets, caterpillars, snails, and other small invertebrates. The protein derived from these insects is pivotal in the growth and development of the young, and we strongly encourage withholding the use of broad-spectrum insecticides in your yard to ensure a food source during this crucial stage.
Baltimore Orioles build extremely unique hanging sock-like nests woven together from slender fibers constructed in the slender upper branches of a tree. Typically these nests are 3 to 4 inches deep with a smaller opening on top and a bulging bottom chamber up to 4 inches across where the eggs are laid. Females gather materials for and construct the nest within the territory defended by her mate. Males will occasionally aid in collection of nesting materials which can consist of long grass, strips of grapevine bark, horsehair, as well as artificial materials such as twine or fishing line (*please do not purposefully set out these artificial materials as they are not the safest options for the birds).
Each pair will raise one brood consisting of 3-7 eggs each season. Eggs are roughly an inch in length and 0.6-0.7 inches in width and are a pale gray with black or brown marbling. Eggs typically hatch within 14 days and the young will fledge in an additional 14 days.
Have you seen any Baltimore Orioles on your feeders recently?
Because of their small size, quick flight pattern and migratory nature, hummingbirds can be tricky but rewarding to spot. Setting up a hummingbird feeder is one of the simplest ways you can attract hummingbirds to your yard. There are many types of nectar feeders available including saucer, window, gravity and more. With so many possibilities, consider these factors when choosing a hummingbird feeder for your yard.
When are hummingbirds in your area?
Where will you be placing your feeder?
Placing feeders near flower beds or planters may help you attract more birds to your yard. Most hummingbird feeders come with hanging hooks so you can hang them from a pole or tree. You may even consider a feeder with an additional hanging hook built into the bottom, like the So Real 3D Flower Hummingbird Feeder - Pink, so you can connect multiple feeders from top to bottom, increasing amount of hummingbirds you can feed in one location.
For a close-up view of the hummingbirds, you may want to put up a window feeder. Window feeders, like the So Real Window Hummingbird Feeder - Honeysuckle, are built with a suction cup mounting system that attaches directly to your window, giving you a unique opportunity to see these flying jewels up close like never before.
How many hummingbirds do you typically feed in a season?
If you receive only a few hummingbird visitors in a season, you may opt for a lower capacity feeder like the Mason Jar Hummingbird Feeder or the So Real Mini 3D Hummingbird Feeder. Less nectar is needed in these smaller feeders, making it less wasteful for you and fresher for the hummingbirds.
If you regularly feed or sight ten or more hummingbirds in your yard, you may need a large capacity feeder like the Artisan Gravity Hummingbird Feeder - Sunny Day or the So Real Gravity Hummingbird Feeder - Pink Fuchsia. These types of feeders can hold 20+ ounces of nectar, ensuring that you have enough food for all of your visitors.
Which style of hummingbird feeder do you like best?
Nectar feeders come in seemingly endless beautiful, unique and traditional designs. Looking for a durable, hand-blown glass feeder with colors that won’t fade over time? Check out the Garden Hummingbird Feeder - Molten. Or how about a feeder that looks like a real flower, like the So Real series? Give the So Real 3D Flower Hummingbird Feeder – Purple a try. Looking for a classic design? Our Traditional Gravity Hummingbird Feeder is sure to be a favorite for both you and the hummingbirds.
For a unique, decorative design, take a look at the Illuminated Hummingbird Feeder. It comes equipped with a solar-powered LED light that transforms it from a daytime feeder into a beautiful lantern at night!
What features are you looking for in a hummingbird feeder?
It’s important to be a responsible host for your hummingbirds to keep them healthy and safe. Nectar feeders should be cleaned 1-2 times a week, so be sure to choose a feeder that is easy to fill and clean. All Nature’s Way nectar feeders are dishwasher safe with removable parts, making them simple for you to disassemble and clean.
Bees and ants are naturally attracted to the sweet nectar inside a hummingbird feeder, but these insects can create problems for you and the hummingbirds. Many feeders come equipped with a built-in ant moat to deter these frequent feeder pests. If bees are a concern, look for a feeder with a domed bee-resistant design.
What is your budget?
Hummingbird feeders can range from less than $10 up to $30 or more. With a wide variety of features available at every price range, you’re sure to find a feeder with innovative designs at the budget you desire.
Still not sure which feeder is right for you?
Try taking our hummingbird feeder selector quiz to find the perfect fit!