Survey -- How long did it take you to attract hummers?

eigdeh(z6 NJ)July 14, 2009

I have spoken to some that stated a few days after putting out a feeder the hummingbirds were there. I have heard from others that it takes years. How long did it take you to attract hummingbirds for the first time on a regular basis?

I have had a large amount of perennials for years! Perhaps I need some more early spring perennials that hummingbirds like, but I have plenty of their favorites open now. I have had feeders out all last year from June to October and again from late March to now this year. Fresh nectar every two or three days. Used to have 1 to 4 ratio, now I am trying 1 to 3.

They have sporatically been in my yard this year, though not enough to drop my feeder levels. I can sit and watch for hours at peak times, but they only come to the feeders once.

What has been your experience? A few days? Years?



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Several years ago on a lark I hung a hummingbird feeder. Within 30 minutes I had a hummingbird use it.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 11:05AM
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When I first moved here 6yrs ago I had no feeders or plants, was standing in my yard and a hummer buzzed my head maybe I was wearing a red hat , anyway went right out and bought my first feeder. Didnt see many hummers that first year but at evening feeding time would see a couple. It takes some time for the hummers to realize yours is the best spot in the neighborhood but worth the effort.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 11:52AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

When I first moved to NY in 1989 from Louisiana I didn't see a hummer until 1998 when we bought our current home. In Louisiana I had hummers everywhere. After we bought this house I had a female the first summer probably because the neighbor behind us who had been there for years also had a feeder and a very large lot with lots of mature trees. Each year my population groew to the point that I had hummers buzzing in and out all day long. Last year the count was way down and this year it has been all but non existent. I hope the tide turnssoon.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 7:49AM
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hawkeye_wx(z5 east-central IA)

Penny, was last summer also very cool?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 10:18AM
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monica33flowers(z4 WI)

About 5 years ago. But last year they did road construction in front of my house and they all disappeared!

Today, I saw my first hummer this season and I can't wait to see more!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 7:16PM
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My first feeder here at my apartment in San Antonio was in 2006. It was a month or two before I saw a hummer at the feeder. Then rarely afterward. I got discouraged and chunked the feeder.

2007 I put up another inexpensive feeder, and had hummers once every twenty minutes or so. I got interested.

2008 I bought two feeders and three Salvia plants in pots. They grew out through the balcony railing and bloomed nicely. I had two or three hummers at a time. I was hooked!

2009 Four feeders. Hummers first here in late March. Balcony railing full of salvia, honeysuckle, and other blooming plants hummer like. I don't have swarms of hummers, but I have at any one time two to six hummers at the blooms and feeders, and of course fighting for dominance.

If you can attract hummers first year, they will breed there in your neighborhood. They will return with their young next year and multiply. I think a consistant hummer friendly environment (provided by you) will bring them back year after year along with their young. All I can saw is be patient. They'll come.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 8:54PM
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scaldude(Sunset Z23 SouthOC)

Sunset, the same day.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 11:50PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

No it was not cool last year like it has been this year. We did have a chilly spring but summer was pretty warm. We did have to have a couple of trees removed the year before in the fall due to storm damage and that may have affected the population last year. This is the coldest summer here in Western NY since I have been here.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 11:21AM
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The hummingbirds simply showed up-I think they were initially attracted by blooming azaleas. I wasn't looking for them and actually heard them before seeing them. I put up feeders soon after I saw the first hummingbird. It did take a few days for the birds to start using them.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 11:53AM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

Amazing how different everyones experience is with attracting hummingbirds.

I was at a party yesterday and I was speaking to a friend that I share plants with. She has an amazing garden. She said she looked up yesterday and noticed 5 hummingbirds in her yard that flew away when they got excited. She said they were the first she noticed this year, but she said she could have easily missed them.

For me that male is returning again in the evening and morning. Never seen him during the day. Looks like I have one regular though! :c)

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 10:12AM
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jeelli(5/6 CT)

Maybe you need some earlier bloomers to reel them in? (Like Weigela, late blooming Lilacs, Red Buckeye, etc.)
"If you build it, they will come"

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 2:25PM
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That's what I was thinking ~~early spring bloomers to snag them when they're on their journey north. Crabapples, dogwoods, some red rhododendrons, along with the lilacs, etc. And right away in very early April I always hang a big pot of red geraniums (or whatever red flowers are first on the market)on a shepherd's hook in a highly visible sunny spot along with a couple of gaudy red plastic feeders. Ugly, but I think it helps! We get our first HBs around April 18-20 here.

The first spring we moved here we put out a feeder and had 'takers' in a week or so. Then we got hooked and started planting shrubs, trees and some perennials for the HBs. Now we have a nice little colony of them.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 4:46PM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

Well... I don't have the Weigela or buckeye, but I do have tons of Lilac, wild honeysuckles(yellow ones) creeping Phlox, Rhodeodenrons, Dogwood, beautiful pink crab apple, Azaelias, plus +++ and the feeders have been out since March with fresh nectar!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 6:50PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

I think that weather and other environmental conditions have had an impact on the hummers that frequent our gardens. As I stated previously I had lots of hummers up until 2 years ago. I had at least 17 that I knew of for sure. Last year maybe half that number and this year maybe 5 if I am really lucky. I have spring bloomers just for my hummers. I have a small red buckeye, 2 red weigelias, several Coral Bells, Pulmonaria, 3 Azaleas, a large rhododendron, several Silene Virginica, 2 large patches of native columbine, a crossvine and 3 native Honeywsuckle vines plus hanging baskets that i put out as soon as our temps reach 50 degrees. Lack of spring blooming plants isn't a problem for me. Lack of hummers in the last 2 years is.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 11:29PM
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I have picked up plants that were early bloomers just to see but early in the season its mainly just feeders that the hummers go to . Early this year I had some of the same eratic hummer visits as everyone else. I would have visitors for a few days then I didnt see any for 2 or 3 weeks. Everything that has happened here has really been in the last month.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 11:50PM
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I saw my first hummer at my feeder this morning 9 AM. The feeder has been up 13 days. Red

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 9:21AM
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chinamigarden(z5 MI)

My first ever hummer came to my first feeder within 24 hours. I was shocked.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 10:20AM
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About 10 AM the other hummer came. One was at the feeder and the other one was at the shrimp plant. Red

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 12:04PM
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My experience is like Hummersteve's. In the spring, they went straight to the feeders, ignoring nice blooms available to them. But since June, they nearly always look for blooms either before or after going to the feeders.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 6:49PM
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I had burgandy curtains in my t.v. room and a big picture window and one day I was sitting there and what do I see but a little ruby throat hummer at my window trying to get at my curtains. I went right out and bought multi hummingbird feeders. I had them right off. I am bordered on three sides of national forrest land and have gained numbers every since. I buy more and more feeders every year as mine do not have nice manners and they fight over the feeders. I see videos of other hummers sitting down having a meal together but mine are red neck hummers with in house fighting. They must have to have their own personal feeder.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2009 at 9:50PM
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We have our kitchen painted in red and often times the hummers come up to the windows and hover and look in like they want to be invited to our supper table.

Penny, I would love for a scientist to do a study of why the hummers haven't visited so much in the past two years at your place. I can understand that the weather this year is a problem especially in your NY region, but I thought the weather last year was fairly typical there, no?

And I think somewhere you wrote that you had some trees taken down a couple of seasons agao and I wonder if they were especially attractive to hummers. Maybe particularly filled with insects they love??

I wish you could get one of those Cornell ornithologists to come out and do a study! Your habitat would be a perfect 'control' for them. And I would love to read their report. (BTW, have you heard of any Cornell reports for this season?)

In any case, any hummer that does make it to your place will definitely have a feast of blossoms. You have quite an array of nectar plants.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 7:18AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

The two trees that had to be removed were both red maple trees. I still have one maple in front and my back yard is completely bordered by my neighbor's maples so the lack of trees shouldn't present a big problem. My neighbor also has shrubs that are well over 12 ft. tall that goes the full length of the property that the birds have always used for shelter. I haven't heard of any studies being done by Cornell this year but I do know that Bill Hilton from Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History in S. C. has only banded 2 Ruby Throated hummers by the end of June which I believe is his lowest tally on record. Our county agent told me a few weeks ago that he had not seen a single hummer this year in his yard. In addition to the early plants my summer garden includes too many to count salvias, agastaches, Bee Balm, Pestemon, Cannas, Tithonia, Maltese Cross, Butterfly Bushes, Cardinal Climber, Porterweed, Verbena bonariensis Stachys coccinea, Cupheas, Hamelia patens, Hamelia cuprea, Red Yucca and a few other things that I just can't remember. All the plants in the world won't help if most of my population didn't survive migration last fall or this spring. I just have to hope that there are still enough in the area that had a successful nesting this year to start building up the population again.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 5:46AM
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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

I've had one visiting regularly for about a month now. I don't have any feeders and can't tell exactly which flowers it's feeding from. I scare it away accidentally every day between 11am and 1 opening the front door. I have red cannas, scarlet sage and various snapdragons in the area it visits. I'm going to hang a feeder by my kitchen window which is only 4-5 feet from where it is usually seen. This is my first year with an extensive flower garden containing flowers hummers and butterflies like so it didn't take long. The cannas started blooming about the same time it showed up.
Happy growing and watching.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 11:30PM
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laurie143(5b Utah)

I heard my hummers before I saw them. We sleep with our window open and every morning while in bed I would hear them whizz past my window. I bought a feeder and he stopped on the first trip past after I hung it. Now when I change it I get dive bombed. I have only had one male and a female so far but I am new to this.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 7:33PM
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irish_rose_grower(z7 LI NY)

It is interesting to read everyone's experiences.
I've been adding hummingbird plants a little each year for the past 3 yrs. So far no hummingbirds but I am determined to get hummers to my yard so each year I add more. This year I have bat faced cuphea, mexican sunflower and red species canna added to the mix. I don't do the feeder anymore because I did it for a full summer and changed the nectar all the time and the only thing that visited was ants. I think I may add a weigela. I've also added this year 2 new butterfly bushes and a coral honeysuckle but they are still small so won't be mature for a couple years.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 1:20PM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

Hi irish rose grower!

If you have been following my threads you will know that I did the feeder a little longer than a full year before I saw a hummer at it and now I have one male that comes 3 times in the early morning and 3 times as the sun goes down. I now also have 2 or 3 females that come all day long. Looking back at it all now I am wondering if I may have had a few visit last year and not even known it as I looked at the feeder a few times a day, but I now see that unless we are as lucky as hummersteve that my approach to seeing hummers last year was not enough. Even with 3 or 4 regular birds visiting my feeders everyday it is rare that I just look out and see one there. It does happen, maybe once or twice a day, but the typical experience for me is to sit there and look and usually within 5 minutes one will come along. Usually one will come and feed quickly and run back off! I would say that the average stay at the feeder seems to be 20 to 30 seconds, with some as short as 5 and some up to a minute.

They are small and fast! Not having a feeder could make it harder to just look out and find one as the flower possiblities are far more than just looking at a feeder quickly. If you have not done so I would suggest putting a chair outside at least 15 to 20 feet from some of the plants that you think they would like this time of the year and sit fairly still for a half hour and enjoy your garden. Best time might be 7:30pm. They might surprise you with a quick fly in and fly out.

I grew up on LI. Moved one state over about 13 years ago.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 3:56PM
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