Discover the Truth About Common Hummingbird Myths

Should you add red dye to hummingbird feeders? Find out as we separate hummingbird myths from hummingbird facts.

hummingbird at red flowersCourtesy Cynthia Bibb

Attracting hummingbirds is easier when you know how to tell the truth from the fiction. We took a closer look at some common hummingbird myths, and we’ve got the answers.

Migration Myths

Hummingbird Myth: Hummingbirds hitch rides on the backs of geese as they migrate south.
Hummingbird Fact: This legend is entertaining, but untrue. Hummingbirds and Canada geese migrate at different times and to different destinations.  Follow these expert tips for attracting hummingbirds.

Hummingbird Myth: All hummingbirds migrate.
Hummingbird Fact: Most, but not all, hummingbirds migrate south for winter. The Anna’s hummingbird stays along the west coast year-round. Learn how hummingbirds survive snow and cold weather.

Hummingbird Myth: Leaving hummingbird feeders up late into fall delays migration south.
Hummingbird Fact: You won’t interfere with hummingbirds’ migration. They know to fly south as the days get shorter. Here’s why you should leave feeders up for late migrating hummingbirds.

Do Hummingbirds Sip Nectar?

Hummingbird Myth: Hummingbirds sip nectar through their bills like a straw.
Hummingbird Fact: Hummingbirds use their tongues to lap up nectar and sugar water at about 13 licks per second. Learn how to clean hummingbird feeders.

Should Sugar Water be Red?

Hummingbird Myth: Adding red dye to sugar water will attract more hummingbirds.
Hummingbird Fact: It isn’t necessary to add dye to sugar water. Feeders with red parts do the trick to attract their attention. Learn the basics of feeding hummingbirds with sugar water 101.

Hummingbird Myth: Hummingbirds eat only nectar and sugar water.
Hummingbird Fact: Insects and small spiders are also an important part of a hummingbird’s diet. Learn more about the foods that hummingbirds eat.

Predators of Hummingbirds

Hummingbird Myth: Hummingbirds’ only natural predators are other, larger birds.
Hummingbird Fact: Besides other birds like hawks, hummers have to watch out for cats, spiders, snakes and even frogs. You must see these spectacular hummingbird photo contest winners.

Gardening for Hummingbirds

Myth: Hummingbirds feed only from red flowers.
Fact: While red blooms draw them in, these tiny fliers will gladly feed from any color flower that produces nectar. Check out the top 10 colorful flowers hummingbirds love.

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.