How to Create an Ideal Hummingbird Habitat

Hummingbirds need more than just a sugar-water feeder to thrive in your yard. Follow these tips to design a perfect hummingbird habitat.

hummingbird habitatCourtesy Julie Kirk
To attract more hummingbirds, make a habitat that they love.

A major part of attracting hummingbirds—and keeping them around throughout their short time here—is creating the right hummingbird habitat. Go beyond just hanging a sugar-water feeder with these helpful tips.

Design an Open Hummingbird Habitat

Liza Peniston of Wichita, Kansas, asks, “Do hummingbirds like open or more secluded areas?”

Different kinds have different preferences. But in general, North American hummingbirds like open habitats. In the American tropics—home to more than 300 hummingbird species—some types always live in the deep shadows of dense forest, and they almost never come out in the sunlight. If you want to create habitat for hummingbirds anywhere north of the U.S.-Mexico border, design an area with some trees and shrubs, a good supply of flowers and plenty of open space. Avoid using pesticides—hummingbirds eat bugs as well as sugar-water and nectar.

Check out frequently asked questions about attracting hummingbirds

Bnbhc18 Julie RomeroCourtesy Julie Romero
Male broad-tailed hummingbird

Habitat for Nesting Hummingbirds

“My mother-in-law has hummingbirds from spring to fall. I live only 15 minutes south of her and I only see hummingbirds in the fall, as they start to head toward Mexico. Can just a few miles make a difference as to where these birds decide to live?” asks Michelle Hesse of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

If you aren’t seeing as many hummingbirds as your friends and family, it could have something to do with the habitat in your neighborhood. In migration, hummingbirds may show up anywhere, but in nesting season they are more selective about their surroundings. They look for a special mix of trees, flowers and open areas. You can “sweeten the deal” in your yard by planting more nectar-producing flowers.

Try Different Feeders

We’ve also found that hummingbirds can be somewhat persnickety about feeders. We’ve used many different kinds of hummingbird feeders, from the conventional style with a glass bottle and plastic bottom to whimsical feeders shaped like strawberries, most with good results. But there have been a few designs that the hummingbirds refused to use. So if everything else about your yard seems right, you might try experimenting with different types of hummingbird feeders from the ones you’ve been using.

More hummingbird habitat ideas to try: install a water mister, and add hummingbird swings and perches.

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Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman
Kenn and Kimberly are the official Birds & Blooms bird experts. They are the duo behind the Kaufman Field Guide series. They speak and lead bird trips all over the world. When they're not traveling, they enjoy watching birds and other wildlife in their Northwest Ohio backyard.