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Attracting migrating hummingbirds

We'll show you how to make your garden a preferred stopping point for migratory hummingbirds in the lead-up to cooler weather this fall.

At the beginning of fall, well before our temperatures actually start dipping, the hummingbirds seem to sense that cooler weather is on the way. Here in central Texas, we can expect to see a variety of migratory species especially active around this time--including Ruby-throated and Black-chinned hummingbirds. And in this post, we'll discuss some steps you can take to attract plenty of them to your backyard.

Practice good feeder maintenance

If you enjoy watching the show these lovely creatures put on around the garden, the transition to fall is a great time to refresh your feeders (or put out some new ones). Here are some helpful reminders for getting the most out of them:

  • Keep your feeders clean! Hummingbirds have somewhat fragile anatomies on account of their tiny size. So even a little contamination in a feeder can lead to disease or death for our feathered friends. Hummingbirds can't tell the difference at the time of feeding, and so it's up to us to make sure we're regularly cleaning those feeders--especially at times of high-volume feeding like the fall. Revisit this post for details on how to properly clean a hummingbird feeder.

  • Prepare homemade nectar properly. A good feeder solution consists of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't necessary to boil the water first; just make sure you stir the solution until the sugar is fully dissolved. Please don't use red food coloring in homemade nectar. The birds will drink it just as readily if it's clear, and using too much dye can introduce unnecessary toxins into the birds' diet. (NOTE: Some commercially prepared solutions contain red dye, but these have been specially formulated for birds' consumption. Home food coloring is much more concentrated.)

  • Keep your nectar fresh. If you're getting plenty of activity at your feeders, you probably won't have much nectar left after a day or two. But if you do, you'll want to discard it and refill the feeders approximately every other day. We realize that seems like a very short period of time, but the fact is that standing nectar spoils quickly in the feeder due to invisible molds--especially in our warmer climate region.

Don't forget the flowers

Remember that hummingbirds are naturally attracted to a variety of flowers in the late summer and early fall. Popular choices for this time of year include Honeysuckle, Zinneas, Salvia, and Pineapple Sage. Placing flowering container plants like these near where you desire to hang your hummingbird feeders may elicit a greater concentration of activity you can enjoy from the comfort of your favorite viewing spot. Alternatively, you might consider using large shepherd's hooks or similar ornamental hangers to locate additional feeders in areas where you already have in-ground color established.

Above all, take time to enjoy the wonder of the hummingbirds that visit your feeders this season. Their iridescent colors and expert flight abilities are such a delight to observe, and the sounds of their wings and little chirps is simply magical. And if you need any supplies, remember that we carry plenty of ready-mix nectar, flowering plants, and decorative feeders to get you started right away!


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