Hummingbirds are wonderful birds to enjoy in the yard, but it is impossible to be satisfied with just one hovering visitor. What birder wouldn't want a charm, glittering, shimmer, bouquet, or tune of hummingbirds at his or her feeders? Fortunately, it is relatively easy to attract a flock of hummingbirds to a feeding station if the setup is suitable for multiple birds.
Hummingbirds are not generally gregarious and do not normally travel in flocks, but they can congregate in surprisingly large numbers where food is abundant. Flocks are even more prominent just before peak migration periods when hummingbirds gain weight in fat stores that will become their migration fuel. At an established, reliable food source, whether it is a field of nectar-rich flowers or a generous, well-known feeding station, it is not impossible to have dozens of hummingbirds feeding at once.
When so many hummingbirds gather in the same small area, however, they can be territorial and aggressive, and dominant birds may attempt to chase other hummingbirds away, denying other birds the chance to feed and using up their own energy with that aggression. A well-designed hummingbird feeding station, however, will attract many hummingbirds while accommodating all their needs and minimizing rivalries so all the birds can benefit.
Attracting More Hummingbirds to the Feeders
There are many different tactics that can help attract greater numbers of hummingbirds to the yard. Birders who regularly feed flocks of hummingbirds will have:
- Multiple Feeders. Using several feeders provides more space for hummingbirds to feed. The feeders can be combined in groups to attract the birds' attention, and several feeding stations, each with multiple feeders, can be positioned throughout the same yard. While one bird may defend a single feeding station, it will be less likely to defend multiple positions, which will give more birds the opportunity to take a sip.
- Larger Feeders. There are many different sizes, shapes, and styles of hummingbird feeders. Using larger feeders with more generous reservoirs and a greater number of feeding ports will permit more birds to feed at once as well as minimize the effort necessary to refill multiple feeders. Some feeders should have perches while others can be positioned for hovering birds.
- Preferred Feeder Styles. Different hummingbirds will show preferences for different feeder styles, and observant birders will note which types of feeders the birds are emptying more quickly. Swapping out less popular feeders for more favorable styles can attract even more hummers as the birds learn how reliable and easy the feeding station is to visit. At the same time, using at least a few different feeder styles will still ensure every hummingbird finds a feeder it prefers.
- Position Feeders Attractively. No matter how many feeders a yard has, if they are not properly placed, they will not attract hummingbirds' attention and the flock will not grow. Hummingbird feeders should be positioned to catch some sunlight so the red color and nectar can catch reflections, and those sparkles will alert curious hummingbirds and bring them in to investigate. Feeders should also be positioned to stay safe and fresh, making them even more attractive to hummingbirds.
- Keep Insects Away. Nectar can be just as attractive to bees and wasps as it is to hummingbirds, but because these large, stinging insects can be dangerous to hummingbirds. If the feeders are covered with insects, the birds will stay away. Larger insects, such as praying mantises, may even be hummingbird predators and will perch on feeders to hunt hummers. Keeping insects off hummingbird feeders can ensure the feeders are more suitable and attractive to birds.
- Keep Feeders Clean. Fresh, clean nectar will always be more attractive to hummingbirds than nectar that has begun to sour or is clogged with debris or mold. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned every few days, and all the feeding ports should be scrubbed to be sure they are clear and unblocked. Keeping the outside of feeder bottles clean will also make them sparkle more, attracting the attention of hungry hummingbirds.
More Tips to Increase Your Hummingbird Flock
There is more to attracting hummingbirds than just making an attractive, accessible feeding station. If more hummers aren't yet visiting the feeders, additional techniques can make the entire yard more hummingbird-friendly, such as:
- Plant flowers for hummingbirds in a hummingbird garden for natural nectar.
- Minimize insecticides that remove insects hummingbirds require for protein.
- Attract nesting hummingbirds to take advantage of their natural geographic loyalty.
- Add more red color to the yard with painted furniture, gazing balls, or other accents.
- Provide water for hummingbirds to use for bathing, preferably by moving water or misters.
- Ensure there is plentiful shelter and perches for hummingbirds to use so they stay nearby.
Hummingbirds are highly desirable backyard birds, and it can be a thrill to attract not just one hummingbird to a feeder, but to bring an entire flock to the yard. With the right steps, every hummingbird lover can do just that.