Attracting Hummingbirds With Water

Hummingbirds are delightful little birds that bring joy to backyard birders. With their iridescent plumage, aerobatic flight demonstrations, and seemingly boundless energy, it’s no wonder why people enjoy watching them.

Attracting hummingbirds to your yard is relatively easy. By providing them with a few key elements – food, water, shelter, and nesting sites – you can create an attractive habitat that will have these tiny dynamos flocking to visit.

Of these habitat components, supplying clean fresh water specifically for hummingbirds is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to draw them in. Hummingbirds have very high metabolisms and will drink frequently throughout the day. Having a designated water source available makes your yard that much more appealing.

Here is an in-depth guide on how to attract hummingbirds with water in your backyard. We’ll cover recommended watering devices, proper placement, maintenance tips, and additional elements that will make your yard even more enticing to hummingbirds.

Types of Water Sources for Hummingbirds

Providing water can be as simple as setting out a shallow bowl, but to really maximize the experience, consider incorporating a specialized hummingbird watering device. Here are some top options:

Hummingbird Feeders

Specially designed hummingbird feeders are the most popular method for offering water. These have reservoirs to hold nectar (which is simply sugar water) and ports with perches for easy sipping.

Many feeder styles are available, from basic bottle shapes to more ornate glass globe designs. Look for ones that are made of durable, easy-to-clean materials and have ant moats or bee guards to keep away insects. Replace feeders every few seasons or immediately if they become damaged or overly grimy.

Place multiple feeders around your yard to reduce squabbling over ports. Be sure to clean and refresh the nectar regularly, at least every 2-3 days in hot weather. This ensures freshness and prevents fermentation.

Drippers and Misters

Hummingbirds are attracted to the sight and sound of moving water. Gardening supply stores sell affordable devices that connect to a hose and release either drops or a fine mist.

Drippers can be positioned over a shallow basin or bowl. The dropping and splashing entices hummingbirds to come investigate and take a drink.

Misters attached to an elevated branch or shepherd’s hook create an inviting shower for hummingbirds to fly through and sip. The cool vapor is especially welcomed on hot days. Just be sure the mist falls into a container to prevent muddy puddles.

Fountains and Waterfalls

More elaborate water features like small tabletop fountains and backyard ponds or streams with waterfalls also provide appealing drinking and bathing opportunities.

The splashing and gurgling sounds grab hummingbirds’ attention. For ponds, add a few large stones at one end for easy perching access.

Be sure to keep water levels full, pumps running properly, and change water frequently to prevent stagnation of these types of water sources.

Plant Misters

Some gardeners install plant misting systems on timers that provide periodic bursts of water to the garden. The micro-sprays going off catch hummingbirds’ attention and they eagerly fly through and sip the mist.

Just be careful that the mister is not close to hummingbird feeders, or the nectar will become overly diluted. Misters work best in an open area of the landscape.

Oasis or Suet Feeders

In addition to liquid-style nectar feeders, there are feeders designed to hold a solid sugar water “nectar” formula. These are essentially an upside down suet cage for holding a soft gel.

The nectar feeders have tiny holes or slits for licking and probing with their long tongues. They offer a different sort of feeding experience and still provide the sugar water hummingbirds crave.

No matter which watering device you choose, the key is keeping them clean and filled with fresh nectar or water. Follow the cleaning guidelines for your particular style of feeder to ensure sanitary conditions for your feathered visitors.

Where to Place Hummingbird Water Sources in Your Yard

Proper placement of hummingbird watering devices and landscaping to support them will increase your odds of attracting these swift little birds. Here are some tips on where to locate the water in your habitat:

Near Flowers and Plants

Hummingbirds feed on flower nectar in addition to drinking plain water. Having your feeders or drippers amidst nectar-producing flowers gives them convenient one-stop-sipping.

Plant clusters of red, orange, pink, or purple blooms that seem to attract hummingbirds most. Native wildflowers are ideal. Go for tubular shaped flowers that match a hummingbird’s specialized beak and tongue.

Position open water sources near the blooms so hummingbirds naturally flit between them. The combination of food and water keeps them happily buzzing around your yard.

Near Trees and Shrubs

Hummingbirds appreciate water sources placed in proximity to mature trees, shrubs, and vines that they can perch in while not feeding.

Trees like maples, oaks, and locusts provide good vantage points to guard a feeder and rest between sipping sessions. Shrubs and vines give needed cover for their tiny nests.

Position water sources about 5-10 feet away from vegetation so the hummers have clear flight paths but also quick shelter access. East or southeast exposure is ideal for catching early morning sunlight.

In a Water Feature

Incorporating running water like fountains and ponds into your landscape naturally attracts hummingbirds. They love moving water and the atmospheric sound.

Place your fountain or pond with a backdrop of flowers and plants. Position large rocks at one end of a pond or along the fountain edge to create perches for hovering and drinking.

The convergence of blooms for food, open water for bathing and sipping, and songbirds visiting the water feature creates an active ecosystem hummingbirds find magnetic.

Near Food Sources

Hummingbirds also eat tiny insects for protein, so consider putting feeders or drippers near other food sources that will attract bugs.

Fruiting trees, berry bushes, or vegetable and herb gardens provide great insect foraging. The hummingbirds can conveniently grab a drink at the water source as they hunt for food in your garden landscape.

Tips for Making Hummingbird Water Features Inviting

Attracting something as delicate and fast-moving as a hummingbird takes some extra considerations. Here are tips for enhancing water sources to make them super appealing:

Use Red Elements

Hummingbirds see the color red exceptionally well. Work in red accents around your yard’s water sources to catch their attention.

Red versions of elements like feeder bases, mister nozzles, fountain bowls, and even themed accessories like ribbons and wind chimes help draw the hummers in. Don’t go overboard though or it may scare them off.

Add Dripping/Moving Water

The sight and sound of moving water is highly attractive. Fountains, misters, and drippers that generate pleasant splashing noises will bring hummingbirds buzzing over to investigate.

Change the water flow patterns or switch on the mister at various times to create a fresh sensory experience that grabs their interest when they visit your yard.

Include Perches

Hummingbirds do almost everything on the wing, but they still appreciate convenient perching spots. It allows them to casually rest in proximity to their key water and food stops.

Position rocks, branches, trellises, or shepherd hooks with perches built-in around your yard’s water sources. This gives them alternate vantage points to observe the action from when not actively sipping.

Use Strategic Placement

Take advantage of natural features in your landscape. Tuck feeders in little nooks, face drippers toward sunlight, and elevate fountain perches at optimal hovering height.

Strategic placement with their behaviors in mind means your yard effortlessly caters to hummingbirds’ needs and preferences.

Let Them See Around

Hummingbirds are easily spooked, so they like open visibility with hiding spots nearby. Avoid cramming the feeders under a porch or tucking fountains behind dense bushes.

Allow open flight paths with a balance of flowers, shrubs, and trees in the periphery. A clear line-of-sight gives hummingbirds confidence to come visit.

With some creativity and knowledge of what appeals to hummingbirds, you can design a yard oasis that specifically caters to these energetic little jewel-toned birds. The right elements will have your landscape buzzing with life.

Now let’s go over some questions that may come up when trying to attract hummingbirds with water features:

Frequently Asked Questions About Attracting Hummingbirds With Water

How often should hummingbird water sources be cleaned?

To keep water fresh and prevent growth of bacteria or mold, hummingbird feeders and other water sources should be cleaned every 2-3 days at minimum, or daily in hot weather. Wash with mild soap and water, rinse thoroughly, and air dry fully before refilling.

What sugar-to-water ratio is best for hummingbird nectar?

The ideal proportion for hummingbird nectar is 1 part white cane sugar (or other dissolved sweetener) to 4 parts water. Never use any artificial sweeteners, honey, or sugars with coloring or additives. Boil the water first and stir the sugar to fully dissolve.

What are some flowering plants that attract hummingbirds?

Some top flowering plants to attract hummingbirds include different varieties of fuchsia, petunias, salvias, trumpet vines, columbine, bee balm, honeysuckle, coral bells, cannas, and native wildflowers like penstemons and paintbrushes. Plant in clusters of bright reds, oranges, pinks, and purples.

Should hummingbird feeders be taken down at night?

Most experts recommend leaving hummingbird feeders up overnight unless there is a known nocturnal animal pest problem in your area. Hummingbirds may feed at dawn before you rise. Just be extra diligent about cleaning day-old nectar out each morning.

How can you keep bees and wasps away from hummingbird feeders?

Strategies to deter bees and wasps include using feeders with bee guards, placing feeders in shady spots or under canopy covers, using feeders that have built-in ant moats, and promptly cleaning up any spilled nectar which attracts insects.

How do you know if hummingbirds are using a water source?

Watch for them visiting at dawn or dusk when it’s less busy. Listen for the buzzing hum of their wings and chirping sounds. Check for feathers gathered under perches or small spider webs forming under feeder ports. Use a trail camera to capture actual footage of them feeding if desired.

Should anything special be done for hummingbird water sources in winter?

In warmer zones, no winter preparation may be needed. But in areas with sub-freezing temps, switch to a freeze-proof style of feeder. Move feeders to protected locations, drain pipes if needed, and discontinue use of misters and drippers. Provide fresh nectar even on cold days for wintering hummers.

Designing the Complete Hummingbird Habitat

While providing a good water source is the first step, consider these additional elements for creating a comprehensive hummingbird oasis:

Sugar Water and Nectar Feeders

It’s not just about the water. Offering sugary hummingbird nectar from feeders is vital. Get the highest quality feeders to minimize troubleshooting and maintenance. Provide a range of feeder styles in multiple spots.

Diverse Blooms and Flowers

Incorporate vividly colored flower beds, hanging baskets, and planters in complementary colors to catch their eye. Go beyond just red and fill your landscape with a diverse, season-long succession of blooms.

Sheltering Trees and Bushes

Hummingbirds appreciate tiny crevices and tree branches for nesting and resting. Plant variety is key – include evergreens, flowering shrubs, and tall trees. Place nesting materials like moss and hair near bushes.

Inviting Perches and Landing Spots

Give them places to casually perch and look around near key food and water spots. A small trellis, interesting garden art, or shepherd hooks with attached perches help provide pit stops.

Minimal Use of Pesticides

Limit use of chemical pesticides which can be harmful to hummingbirds. Promote natural predators like ladybugs which don’t pose toxicity risks. Prioritize plants with disease resistance.

Moving Components

The sight and sound of moving water, wind chimes, spinning flowers, and fluttering ribbons appeals to hummingbirds. Incorporate kinetic elements that catch their attention and mimic movement.

By incorporating all these best practices for creating an attractive habitat, you’ll have happy hummingbirds gracing your yard with their beauty and energetic activity all season long. Listening to their cheerful chirping as they buzz around is a simple joy.

The addition of a thoughtfully designed water feature or feeding station will serve as a sparkling jewel in your landscape that keeps hummingbirds returning frequently to drink, bathe, and play.


Providing clean fresh water is an essential yet easy way to make your yard appealing for hummingbirds to visit. With a properly positioned and maintained feeder, mister, fountain, or dripper, you can create an enticing spot that meets their needs.

Pair the water source with ample food sources, shelter, and perches, and you’ll have happy hummingbirds magically animating your garden all season long. Listening to their cheerful chirping and watching their acrobatic antics brings childlike delight.

Do a bit of planning and experimenting with different setups to find what works best for your space. With some simple additions, you can experience the wonder that comes from having those zippy jewels of the sky choosing to spend time in the sanctuary you’ve created. The joy of communing with nature is worth the effort.

So grab a comfortable seat on the patio, relax, and enjoy the show as waves of iridescent hummingbirds arrive for drinks and a bath at their new favorite backyard oasis. The serenity and beauty they bring are priceless gifts. Here’s to a lively new hobby!