Best Nest Materials for Hummingbirds
Attract hummingbirds with our list of the best nest materials and plants they'll use to build a home in your yard.
Kris Wetherbee, Oakland, Oregon
Lambs' ear provides important nesting material for hummingbirds.
Plants aren't just for nectar anymore. Sure, they offer a great food source for hummingbirds, but these tiny creatures also rely on plants for nesting material.
A hummer's nest is composed from a variety of materials, and plants play an important role. Small pieces of soft plant fibers and bits of leaves create its flexible shape that expands as the nestlings grow. Fluffy plant down and animal hair line the inside. And bits of lichen and moss cleverly camouflage the outside.
Enhance your own hummingbird habitat by growing a diversity of leafy trees and large shrubs that provide shelter at varying heights. And if you want to get more bang for your buck, plant catkin-bearing trees and shrubs, which provide soft plant fibers for nesting material. Some examples of these include willows, witch hazel, alder, American elm, cottonwood, ironwood, poplar, birch, beech, mulberry and maple.
Grow perennials, annuals and vines with fuzzy foliage or seeds so hummers can harvest the downy fibers for their nests. The seed heads on both clematis and honeysuckle transform into fuzzy balls of soft fiber, which hummingbirds also can use for nest-building material.
Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) and blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora) offer similar soft fibers. Pasque flowers have soft foliage with silken hairs and mid-spring flowers followed by fuzzy seedpods. Blanket flowers form fuzzy seedpods immediately after flowering.
Lamb's ear (Stachys byzantine) forms dense, ground-hugging rosettes of thick, soft, woolly leaves. The silken plumes of ornamental grasses provide yet another source of nesting materials. And all milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) offer inflated seedpods with silky seeds.
So the next time you add to your garden, don't just look for plants that are good nectar sources. Add a few nest-friendly selections to create a more hospitable and well-rounded habitat for hummingbirds.