Please tell us how you started getting visits

mehitabel(z6 MO)May 1, 2014

For the benefit of people who are just starting trying to attract hummers, I hope the old hands who have lots of visitors will tell us how they *started*-- what they did that first succeeded --especially visitors from the first migration north.

We would really appreciate some details about how to get those first ones to stop on their way north-- Where are you? What did you do? How long did it take to get your first one? Any periods that are lulls when no birds appear? What was blooming nearby when you got your first visitor? That sort of thing.

I'm getting hummers in July as soon as the agastache start to bloom, but still struggling to find a way to attract any this early. Please help!

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Hi there....I have been feeding the hummers for many years here in east central MS. I don't have many hummer loving plants, but I can promise there is nothing like feeders! The more you hang, the more you'll attract. Don't purchase the fancy preference is Perky Pet and First Nature. The First Nature brand has a plastic jar and easy to clean as the bottom pops off, but I really like the glass Perky Pet brand better for some reason. I have several PP feeders with 4 ports and perches and several with the continuous perch around it. My first visitor is usually around March the season progresses, I add more feeders and by the end of July, Aug., I will have a total of 12 feeders...and boy, that keeps me busy! During south migration, there will be a feeding frenzy and so much fun to watch. Never buy the commercial red nectar, but make your own from 4 cups water to 1 cup sugar. I don't boil mine, but simmer a minute for the sugar to melt, put in the fridge and let come to room temp for immediate use.

Good luck and hope you get lots of these little jewels!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 12:15PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Do you have any azaleas? Their early bloom time is sure to attract hummingbirds. But I start putting a feeder out even before the azaleas bloom.

I'll fill just one feeder about half way so that there's not so much waste if they don't discover it right away. Do you have a good feeder? Do you know how to make your own sugar water?

The more feeders that you put out, the more birds you'll have. I never use any more than two, because I hate the overcrowding.

They also visit my angelonia, calibrachoa, and lantana.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 12:35PM
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I was told by an old timer to put my feeders out in April when the hummers are claiming territory. I put red ribbons on the feeders and it worked like a charm.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 12:39PM
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Well, I happen to love the overcrowding! Hehe! In August and Sept., I refer to it as the war zone! There will be hundreds flitting around and it really is a sight to see. Then I start complaining about the work involved in making nectar, cleaning and refilling the feeders! But I do it every season!

At some point when there are about 5 feeders up, there will be one or two males who are bullies and very territorial....appears they want all the feeders to themselves!

My feeders have the red bottoms and tops, so no ribbon is necessary!

Currently, I have three feeders up and about 5 visitors as best I can tell.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 5:29PM
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zzackey(8b GA)

You can google a migration map to let you know when the first visitors come to your area. Ours start in March and end in Sept. I have a feeder with big red flowers on it with yellow bee guard centers. My hummers love my fire cracker plant, golden dew drop flowers and my tiny red salvia blossoms. There are alot of flowers that attract them. Just google it.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 5:38PM
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chrsvic(z6 OH)

Every spring, i put out a hanging basket of fuchsia, and a hummingbird feeder, on a double sheperd's hook. I think it helps to have something in bloom, plus the feeder.

The established plants in the landscape are really slow coming into bloom this spring.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 9:45PM
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mehitabel, I think they are trying to tell us that no matter what we plant, if it isn't blooming yet, we need feeders. I bought some at walmart, got the fout dollar one, then went back two weeks later and upgraded a bit. One cup of sugar a week and $15.00 for feeders is worth it to me, I know the only one I had was because of the bright red and pink windsock I have and also some red streamers I made from fushia/red construction tape on some trees. Plus it gives you something to look at instead of watching your plants, waiting for them to bloom. It's like waiting for the pot to boil! LOL Several people have stated that even with some plants blooming, they still go for the feeders. Try it if you care to, I hope you won't be disappointed if you do. Debra

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 12:26PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Yes, I think so, too, Debra. Thing is, I have the feeders up but no one is coming yet. Last year I put feeders up in July and got takers right away.

This year I was so sure I would get some earlier than that. But you're right, we just have to keep the feeders going and wait. As you say, it doesn't cost uch. I'm sure they're out there and sneaking a sip or two while I'm not looking :)

I'll have to try the red windsock and tape.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 1:13PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Thanks to everyone who posted. It was interesting to see the agreement that hanging feeders is the key to getting regular visitors.

I'm sure flowers wave them down and get them to at least pause as they zoom by, but I can see how a steady source of food that never varies is like a miracle to them.

I'll keep my feeders out no matter what.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 1:05PM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

I never use feeders, only plants.
This has been an awesome weekend for hummingbird action!
We've had a male in our yard every day including this morning.
The main draws have been red honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) and our 'Goldflame' honeysuckle (which I like since it has a scent!).
He's also been feeding from the red heucheras and Salvia coccineas and I finally saw him on the Bouvardia ternifolia I got from Logee's!
Apparently at one point he got mad at me since he wanted to feed on the salvias and I was in his way. I heard the loud chirps they make. Laugh.
Still considering putting up a feeder but so far it looks like the plants are doing all the work just fine. :)

Good luck!


    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:08PM
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That's great Robert, I am surprised you have all of that blooming already. My salvia's are doing nothing at the moment, but I have a lot of part sun beds they are planted in, as the days get longer I hope they start blooming.
I grow a lot of Heuchera, what variety is your red that they are feeding from? I love to hear this, I only have a purple that is bloomig now. I planted 3 Rave On, but they were starters, so probably won't bloom this year.
I haven't heard the chirps in over 20 years, can't wait...

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 4:24PM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Thanks, Debra!

The reason I've so many blooms is because I'm a total cheater. Laugh.
Whenever I go to Lowe's or Home Depot or wherever and see blooming hummer plants I snatch them! :)
I got the red 'Firefly' Heucheras at Lowe's in March and they're still blooming away.
I found the Salvia coccineas at a local nursery, no label but I knew what they were so I grabbed tons. So glad I did!
I did order some salvia seeds today off of eBay but it's so much easier to buy blooming size plants. ;)

I hope you hear lots of chirps this year!


    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 5:37PM
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Oh Robert,
Let's call it 'Instant Gratification' instead of Cheating... LOL
Kuddo's to you for your Firefly and Salvia score. I must get out more!
The seed thing, can either be so gratifying or frustrating. Good luck with your salvia seeds. I did have a 100% germination on my Cardinal Climber this week, that was great!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 7:08PM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Instant gratification rocks! :)
I thought of you since I've been starting Cardinal Climber seeds in a moist paper towel. Looks like most of mine are also sprouting!
Guess that's more work for me.
Now I gotta plant them! Laugh.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 3:50PM
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Robert, That is great, I tried winter sowing them but it did not work, so I soaked them over night, really almost two days, and they germinated in about 6 days, it was great, now I am soaking everything. And yes, now I have to plant it, everyplace I have a bare spot on my wire fencing! I had 10 packages of seeds I had not planted. I will let you know how I do... Never could get my Carillo Red Penstemon to sprout, really wanted some as I don't have many small things for my border.
I have the cutest little hummer/buzzer hanging around but no chirps from it yet, I guess it's happy!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 4:17PM
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Robert (zone 7a, Oklahoma)

Haha! That's awesome!
You just have to stand in front of its favorite flowers.
Then I'm sure it will chirp and buzz you. Laugh.

I saw some awesome red penstemons at a local nursery (can't remember the variety) but they wanted 5 bucks a pop for a small plant. Might go back but it sure is cheaper to start things from seeds! :)


    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 4:25PM
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mehitabel(z6 MO)

Robert, sorry I missed your post about your awesome weekend hummingbird party. That red honeysuckly is like waving a flag for them, STOP HERE!

Glad you finally got to see them for yourself. I saw one tonight. Going to starty a new thread for it.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 9:28PM
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Robert, 5 bucks for instant gratification, or 3 months trying to start from seed, Oh my, what dilemma, I know, not laughing! If I am actually looking at it in the nursery, as opposed to looking to order it, it is in my basket. At least one, though I do like to buy in threes unless it is ridiculously expensive. I hope it is still there when you go back.. Go back..... Debra

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 10:05PM
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So great reading these :)

I agree with Donna about the cheap feeders. I had originally bought two beautiful mosaic hummingbird feeders from a local flower shoppe, they were blue & purple & had red flowers on them where the hummers would feed from... but I did not see a single hummingbird. Went back to Dollar Tree and bought a couple red plastic ones for $4, filled them with nectar and BOOM! That day had hummers on the cheap feeders. They still ignore the mosaic feeders. I have nothing blooming yet for them except a few flowers or two on the buddleia so far.

To second someone else's comment, I get the feeders out early... late April/early May. Also, It seems they prefer my homemade nectar as opposed to the red store-bought stuff as well. Just one part sugar, four parts water, bring to a boil. :)

    Bookmark   June 2, 2014 at 4:10PM
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glad2garden(5, Chicopee, Mass)

I agree about putting the feeders out early. I put mine out the first or second week of May. The plants that attract them the most are the honeysuckle, weigela, penstemons and black and blue salvia. They love that salvia! Here's a pic of Red Riding Hood Penstemon.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 5:30AM
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