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Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard

Spring 2005

Everyone is fascinated by the nimble, perpetual movement of a hummingbird. Arizona provides natural habitat for 15 of the 300 different species of hummingbirds. Creating a habitat for hummingbirds in your yard can be easy. Many native plants provide a food source that attract hummingbirds. Hummingbirds seek the nectar from flowers. Tubular flowers that are red, orange and yellow provide the nectar that hummingbirds seek.

Plant species that attract hummingbirds include:

Arizona Yellow Bell
Baja Ruellia
Fairy Duster
Desert Milkweed
Red Yucca
Turpentine Bush
Desert Willow

Hummingbirds can also be attracted to feeders. There are two types of feeders, bottle and dish type. Bottle type feeders utilize an upside down bottle to store the nectar and provide the nectar through a dish or tube. Dish type feeders are covered dishes offering multiple bays for the hummingbird to feed. When choosing a feeder, seek a red feeder and avoid yellow as they tend to attract bees.

Feeders require maintenance. The nectar should be replaced weekly during the cooler months and every other day during the hot summer months. A simple nectar mixture is all that is required to attract hummingbirds.

There is no need to buy a mix, here’s a recipe for hummingbird nectar:
4-5 cups of water
1 cup of white sugar
Pour water into a pan, add sugar, bring mixture to boil and remove from heat as it reaches a boil. Allow the sugar solution to cool before filling the feeder.
There is no need to add a red dye,as the dye does not attract hummingbirds, the nectar does.

Hummingbirds that call Arizona home all year round

Anna's Hummingbird
Calypte anna
Size: 4"
Adult male: rose red to coppery red gorget with elongated corners, crown the same color, upper breast gray; tail long, deeply notched, outer tail feathers gray, blunt-tipped; sings a scratchy, squeaky song from an exposed perch; immature male similar to female but usually with conspicuous "five o'clock shadow" in rough outline of adult gorget, often with many colored feathers by late summer
Female: dull to bright green above, grayish below, bill medium length and straight, tail long, notched, with rounded outer feathers banded gray, black and white; adult female usually has an irregular patch of red or copper in the center of the throat; call note is a rich chip or chik
Range: resident from California east to far western Texas, north to southern British Columbia
Status in AZ: common year-round resident in lower elevations of southern and central Arizona, common to abundant visitor late summer through early fall in southeastern mountains,
Habitat: woodland, chaparral, desert scrub, urban and suburban areas
Nesting season: late winter through spring
Migration: mostly resident, wanders south and into the mountains in summer and fall– magenta crimson head, crown and throat with gray belly and green back

Costa's Hummingbird
Calypte costae
Size: 3 1/2"
Adult male: small, violet to purple gorget with extremely long extensions at corners, crown the same color, throat, upper breast, and midline of belly white, outer tail feathers gray, pointed; song is a shrill whee-oo during elliptical display flights; immature male similar to female but usually with conspicuous "five o'clock shadow" in rough outline of adult gorget, often with few to many colored feathers
Female: small, pale gray below, green above, occasionally with blackish or iridescent purple spot in center of throat, bill very short and thin; wings usually reach tip of short, notched tail, rounded outer tail feathers banded gray, black and white; call note is a weak, dry tik or tchik
Range: resident in southern California east to southeastern Arizona, western Mexico, nests north to central California, southern Nevada and Utah; "wintering" range extends south and east of nesting range on Pacific slope of Mexico (late summer-early winter)
Status in AZ: uncommon to common year-round resident in west and southwest; uncommon to rare spring resident and late summer visitor in southeastern AZ, February-May.
Habitat: nests in desert scrub, chaparral, thornscrub, tropical deciduous forest, suburban areas; may "winter" in oak woodland or conifer forest in mountains (late summer through early fall)
Nesting season: late winter through spring
Migration: some individuals resident in southern parts of range; migrants arrive on breeding grounds in late winter to early spring, may wander to higher elevations in summer and fall

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Archilochus alexandri
Size: 3 3/4"
Adult male: gorget velvety black with a violet band at the bottom, upper breast and partial collar white, outer tail feathers black, pointed; performs a J-shaped display flight accompanied by a shrill twitter, probably created by air rushing over the wings and/or tail; immature male similar to female but usually with conspicuous "five o'clock shadow" in rough outline of adult gorget, often with a few colored feathers
Female: pale gray below, dull to moderately bright green above with a dingy grayish crown, bill long and slightly decurved, outer tail feathers pointed (rounded in immature female), banded gray, black and white; call note is a soft tchew.
Range: nests from central Texas and Oklahoma west to California, and central Mexico north to southern British Columbia; winters in western and central Mexico
Status in AZ: common to abundant summer resident (mostly April-September) in lower to middle elevations
Habitat: oak woodland, streamside forest and woodland, thickets of mesquite and hackberry in desert scrub
Nesting season: late spring through summer
Migration: arrives on breeding grounds in spring, leaves in fall to winter in western and southern Mexico; occasionally wanders east during migration and winters along Gulf Coast

Additional Resources:

The Hummingbird Society
The Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory