Attracting Spring and Summer Hummingbirds

Mid-April has arrived, and every year at this time my mind turns to the same thing. No, not taxes. Hummingbirds!

Four species of hummingbirds can be seen in Colorado. The most common is the Broad-tailed Hummingbird. There’s also the Rufous Hummingbird, a rusty-colored bird found here in July and August, and the Calliope and Black-chinned hummingbirds.

Tips for Your Feeder

Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird by Bill Schmoker

In the mountains, it’s easy to attract hummingbirds. In cities along the Front Range, however, you have to work a little harder. Fortunately, the effort is worthwhile. I have a few suggestions to increase your chance of attracting them to your yard.

Keep the feeder very clean. Replace the solution every three to five days, and more often in hot weather. If a bird tastes fermented or moldy sugar water, it may not return. Prepare hummingbird nectar by mixing one part table sugar with four parts water. You can make large quantities by boiling the solution and refrigerating it. Do NOT add red food coloring to this mixture. Never use honey. Honey could result in the bird’s death.

When you select a hummingbird feeder, consider the following: number of feeding stations, capacity, resistance to wind, resistance to dripping and ease of cleaning. Also, determine whether ants and bees will be problems.

When placing a feeder, consider the “bird’s eye view.” Place it out in the open where the birds can find it. Add red color to a feeder by hanging red ribbons near it. Flowers in your garden can help to attract hummingbirds. Especially attractive varieties include agastache (hyssop), butterfly bush, salvia, hollyhocks, impatiens, columbine and penstemon. Consider planting a combination of annuals, perennials and vines.

Perseverance Pays Off

Rufous Humingbird

Rufous Hummingbird by Bill Schmoker

Don’t give up! Two peak periods for attracting hummingbirds happen in Colorado. The first is from mid-April to the end of May. This is when hummingbirds are first migrating into the area. The second – and most important – period is from the Fourth of July to the end of September. Leave your feeder up until mid-October. A feeder will not prevent their migration.

Attracting hummingbirds is an enjoyable way to observe and interact with nature. Whenever you are dealing with wildlife, it is important to remember that patience and persistence will often reward you. Creating a wild bird habitat in your yard can attract a variety of wildlife, including those spectacular hovering jewels of nature … hummingbirds!

~ Scott Menough, Owner of Wild Birds Unlimited of Denver

Scott and his wife, Sandy, own the Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop at 2720 S. Wadsworth Blvd. in Denver. WBU stores specialize in bird feeders, bird baths, houses, field guides, nature-related gifts, binoculars and quality seed blends. Call us at 303-987-1065 with questions.

Other WBU Front Range locations:

  • Wild Birds Unlimited of Arvada – 7370 W. 88th Ave.
  • Wild Birds Unlimited of Fort Collins – 3636 S. College Ave.

Find us at

BirdTalk migrating to noon! Tune in to David and Scott Menough at noon on Saturdays for BirdTalk Radio on 710 KNUS. They will broadcast live from their stores in Arvada and Denver.

Learn more about bird-friendly living.