How to Attract & Feed Hummingbirds

When the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds arrive in spring, we celebrate at my house. Each year we set up a protected area by our mudroom door and our kitchen window. The hummingbirds always find it and the air above the feeding station is soon filled with hummingbirds zipping around at all hours. It's a joyous sight!

Hummingbird Feeder Set-Up

Hummingbirds are attracted to flowers that are orange and red.

I like to visit my local gardening store just as the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are about to arrive and purchase and some spring-blooming flowers. I plant them around my feeder area so the birds have a natural source of nectar. I also keep the flowering plants refreshed through the season and find they attract hummingbirds and lots of other nectar-loving species like butterflies and bees.

There are lots of commercial feeder options available. I use one that's got a vintage look with a red glass bottle that holds the nectar.

The most important thing to remember about your feeder is to keep it clean and refresh the nectar often, especially during hot weather as the sugar water ferments in the warmth. On hot summer days, I will often refill my feeder with fresh nectar each day.

To make the nectar, I dissolve 1/4 cup of sugar in one cup of water. I double that as needed to refill my feeders. In the hummingbird-feeding world, some folks boil their water before adding the sugar. Others don't, and I fall into this camp. It doesn't take long for sugar to dissolve in water if you stir it well. If you're going on vacation, you can make up extra ahead of time and save it in the refrigerator so your house sitter can refill your feeders as needed.


  • Scientific Name - Archilochus colubris
  • The average Ruby-throated Hummingbird is 3 to 3 3/4 inches long with a wingspan of 4 to 4/3/4 inches. 
  • Male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can be identified because they have a red throat and a slightly forked tail. 
  • The Ruby-throated Hummingbird beats its wings 53 times per second.  
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can fly up to 60 miles per hour. 
  • Hummingbirds can see the ultraviolet spectrum, which humans can't see. 
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the most common species of hummingbird in Eastern North America and are North America's only breeding species of hummingbird. 
  • Hummingbirds can cross the Gulf of Mexico in one flight. 
  • Peak breeding activity is in June and July. 
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbirds usually produce two broods per year. Egg incubate for 14 to 15 days and young leave the nest in 20 to 22 days. 
  • Nectar is not the only food for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. They will eat insects and small spiders. 
A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
 Hummingbirds like to have places to rest near a feeding station,
so be sure to provide some easily accessible foliage.  

Track Your Hummingbirds!

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds migrate south to Central America each fall and back up to North America in the spring. They arrive pretty early in the season, so be sure you're ready for them by checking the Journey North Map to see where the Hummingbirds are in their migration. For me, Hummingbirds are usually spotted at our feeders sometime around early to mid-April.

FYI - Journey North is a citizen science project, so feel free to join and report your Hummingbirds as they arrive.


  1. Just a few more weeks for me too! I love these little guys!

  2. Hi Judi,

    It always amazes me they get here so soon. I don't know about where you are, but there aren't many flowers blooming yet. I'm not sure what they eat at this time of year!



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