Hummingbirds are enchanting creatures. They have a Disney-esque quality to them that makes us question sometimes if they are real or fiction. Their mesmerizing wing-flapping sets them apart from all of their avian cousins. We think of them as illusive, disallowing us the opportunity to get up close and personal with them.
However, that is not the case. As veteran birders will attest - not only can we approach them in nature, we can also create hummingbird-friendly habitats and with a little patience and perseverance - we can actually hand feed these magical sprites.
Melissa Mayntz who's been birding for more than 20 years says all you need is a hummingbird feeder for starters, and that "the key to success is to gain the birds' trust," and adhere to several important steps.
1) Attract Hummingbirds
First, it is necessary to attract hummingbirds. Plant hummingbird flowers, put out several suitable feeders and make your backyard a hummingbird haven. To make it easier to hand feed hummingbirds, arrange the feeders and flowers in a single location to concentrate where the birds visit and help them become familiar with where food is available.
2) Take Notes
As the hummingbirds visit your yard, note when the most popular feeding times are each day and how many birds take advantage of the feeders. If there is one feeder that is especially popular, study the birds’ behavior to learn why they prefer it.
3) Be Present
Once hummingbirds regularly visit the feeding station, it is time to get them used to your presence. During the most popular feeding times, sit outside several feet away from the feeders. Each day, move a small step or two closer to the feeders, but remain still so the birds are not threatened. Avoid any sudden moves or unnecessary sounds while the birds gradually learn that you won’t hurt them.
4) Be Consistent
As the birds are getting used to your presence, be consistent with what time you’re at the feeders, how you stand or sit and what you wear. Keeping your behavior similar day after day will help the birds become accustomed to you more quickly, but it may still take several days or weeks for them to feel comfortable with you nearby.
5) Hold the Feeder
When the birds have become used to you and you’re able to sit or stand very close to the feeder without disturbing them, it is time to try holding the feeder for them to eat. Remove other feeders to concentrate their activity at the feeder you’re holding, and keep the feeder very still to avoid startling the birds. If you are patient, a hummingbird may sip from the feeder within just a few minutes.
6) Provide a Perch
If you want an even more intimate experience hand feeding hummingbirds, offer your finger or hand as a perch in front of the feeder’s feeding ports. This is easy to do by cupping the feeder in your hand or placing your fingers alongside an existing perch.
Check out more of Ms. Mayntz' tips here - and if you're ready to take on this hummingbird challenge - drop us a note in the COMMENT section below and let know of your success. - but please no Red Bull - don't really think they need that extra energy boost, do you?