Attracting Hummingbirds

Don't forget to put up feeders for migrating birds.

Hummingbirds start migrating in September and continue through October. Make sure to keep hummingbird feeders fresh and full. These small birds need food sources to fuel their migration. Tip: Leave your feeders up for a week or two after the last hummingbird flies through, so you can offer nectar to the last stragglers en route.

The Ruby-throated hummingbird (pictured) usually arrives in the Chicago area in late spring and stays until early fall. These tiny birds are attracted to the color 'red,' feeding on nectar and insects. You will notice that all feeders are designed with some 'red' on them. Ideally, feeders should be put out about 10 days prior to the arrival of the hummingbirds. The nectar should be changed frequently--every two to five days-- and the feeder should be washed with soapy water and rinsed thoroughly. Nectar will ferment and mold will grow if not cleaned regularly and hummingbirds will abandon these feeders.  It is important to keep the feeder clean with fresh nectar, if you want to attract and keep hummingbirds coming back to your feeder. Use four parts water to one part sugar to fill the feeders and never use honey or artificial sweeteners. They are also attracted to a water source such as a mister or dipper.  You can also hang a basket of flowers near your feeder to help in attracting them. They prefer natural nectar so you might not notice activity at first, but as the blooms decrease, activity at the feeder will increase.  Ants and bees can be a problem due to the sweetness of the nectar.  Some feeders come with ant and bee guards or they can be purchase separately. If you see bees at the feeder, wipe the ports with a wet sponge and this should solve the problem.