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Your Guide to Hummingbirds

March 9, 2022


adapted Pollinators

Hummingbirds have long, slender bills and tube-like tongues that they use to drink nectar from brightly-colored flowers. This allows them to get deep into the interior of flowers that even large bees may not be able to pollinate.  This nectar, along with insects, is their primary food source which gives them the energy to fuel their high metabolism.

Hummingbird Feeder


There are two main species of Hummingbird in Ohio but a total of 7 species are recognized in state bird records.

Species of hummingbirds are classed as a resident, seasonal or rare in each state, and according to avibase and accepted by the Ohio Ornithological society these are the types of hummingbird in Ohio in each group:

Resident Species of Hummingbirds of Ohio:

There are no species of hummingbird classed as residents in Ohio. 

Seasonal Species of Hummingbirds of Ohio:

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Rufous Hummingbirds are seasonal species of hummingbirds in Ohio.

Rare/Accidental Species of Hummingbirds of Ohio:

Mexican Violetears are considered casual species as they can wander.

Black-chinned Hummingbirds, Calliope Hummingbirds, Allen’s Hummingbirds, and Anna’s Hummingbirds, are all considered to be accidental visitors to Ohio.

Most of these accidental species have only been seen a few times in Ohio.

Complements of Bird Advisors:

This early in spring, many flowers that they enjoy are not in bloom yet, so hang feeders outside starting around mid-March to make sure the hummingbirds stay around your garden.  

Unlike other pollinators who are attracted to sweet scents, hummingbirds rely on their keen eyesight and memory to find nectar-rich flowers. Once hummingbirds discover a favorite flower source, they are likely to return each year at about the same time.

Make A Plan

When planning your hummingbird habit, you will want to make sure there is adequate food, water, protection, and bedding materials.

Brightly-colored flowers that have a tubular base hold the most nectar and are particularly attractive to hummingbirds. Red flowers like salvia and fuchsias are most likely to initially attract the hummingbirds, while other vibrant colors of orange, purple, and pink will keep them coming back. Their least favorite colors are yellow and white. 

Flowers, even red ones, that rely on sweet scents to attract other pollinators, like roses, lilacs, and peonies, offer little nectar, so the birds will quickly pass them by. If you have these in your garden, plant more hummingbird-oriented plants like bee balms, columbines, daylilies, and lupines around them to keep the hummingbirds well fed.

Male Hummingbird
Bee Balm Hummingbird

Choose Native

If given an option, choose native varieties for your hummingbird garden. Cultivated versions are usually bred for color, size, or health and sometimes do not produce as much nectar as their native versions. Plant patches of the same species (three or more plants) together to provide larger quantities of nectar.

Select plants that bloom at different times of the year to provide nectar throughout the hummingbird season. Snapdragons are the perfect cool flower to plant in your gardens in both spring and fall, whereas petunias and geraniums are more heat tolerant and do better in summer. 

Include some fuzzy or fibrous plants like the cinnamon fern, pussy willow, mulberry, thistle, or dandelion. Though these don’t offer any nectar, hummingbirds like to line their nest with these soft plant fibers.

Make It Vertical

Think vertically using trellises, trees, and other structures to support climbing vines and multiple layers of flowers. Add window boxes, wooden tubs, or ceramic pots to create a terraced effect and provide not only growing places for a variety of plants but also protection for your hummingbirds.

Cats are the hummingbird’s greatest predator and using vertical plantings or placing feeders at least 5 feet above the ground, will keep them safe from jumping cats. For other predators, placing feeders near the house will deter large birds and painting hooks of feeders and hanging baskets red will deter praying mantis.

Water for Hummingbirds

Provide Water

It is important to provide some sort of shallow water source. Hummingbirds are frequent bathers and shallow water bowls offer bathwater and hydration. Do not use pesticides in or around your hummingbird gardens, as all birds are incredibly vulnerable to ingesting and absorbing the chemicals. If you have to use chemicals, avoid spraying near open sources of water, near a hummingbird feeder, or directly on the plants. Spray in the middle of the day, as this is the least likely time that the hummingbirds are feeding.


Like other birds, hummingbirds migrate south in search of flowers, insects, and other food sources. Many make this journey during the late summer and fall, spurred not by hunger or falling temperatures but by decreasing daylight hours.

Learn more about Hummingbird migration from the American Bird Conservancy.

Position feeders