Training a Hummingbird To Be Hand Fed

how to hold a hummingbird
Hand-feeding hummingbirds is possible with a few tricks and lots of patience. No special skills are required, just a positive attitude and some consistency. In most of Canada and the US, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is easily attracted to your outdoor space and likes to feed from nectar feeders.

Following the guidance below, you will learn how to attract hummingbirds to your hand and watch them feed on hummingbird nectar. This article will give you the tips and tricks needed for hand-feeding hummingbirds in just a short period of time.

Take some time to learn what times of day and in what areas the hummingbirds are most active. Late afternoon through the early evening is usually an excellent time to spot hummingbirds because they are tanking up on food before night falls.

Their high metabolism requires them to feed often, and with some patience and dedication, you will see hummingbirds at your feeders. Plan to start the hand-feeding process at the feeder they use the most.

holding a hummingbird by the hand

Choose One Feeding Location To Start Hand Feeding

When you feel ready to start hand-feeding hummingbirds, take all feeders down except the one you plan to use. Put on some bright colors, and set up a chair outside near the feeder you see the hummingbirds in the most. By limiting their food source to just one bird feeder, you ensure they will come to the feeder you are near!

Start by sitting a short distance from the feeder while they feed to get them comfortable with your presence. Over the course of a few days, move your chair closer and closer to the feeder until you are as close as you can get. Hummingbirds remember where their food sources are by using spatial associations and so will continue to return to the spot where they know the feeder is.

It’s important that you keep the feeder in the same place and move closer and closer. Next, start holding the feeder. You may want to prop your arm up on a support because you’ll want to hold the feeder for a long period of time. Then, wait. Have patience and sit very still until a hummingbird comes your way in search of food. Sooner or later, a hummingbird will come to you in search of food, and you’ll be hand-feeding hummingbirds!

Will A Hummingbird Sit On Your Hand?

Yes! Using a red handheld feeder to feed hummingbirds, can help train hummingbirds to sit on your hand. The next time a hummer comes to your handheld feeder, have one finger near the feeding port. Gradually move your finger closer and closer until it is directly under the port and acts like a perch.

Stay extremely still, and after some time, the hummingbird will sit on your finger and feed. A fun ‘extra’ to consider would be to paint your nails with red or orange nail polish because hummingbirds are attracted to these colors.

baby male hummingbird being hand fed with a nectar bottle

Does It Matter What Type Of Feeder I Use?

Amazon has many handheld hummingbird feeders, but you can easily use the hummingbird feeder you already have and simply hold it in your hand. A quick search for ‘best hummingbird feeders’ will show many possibilities. There are also many feeders specially designed for hand-feeding hummingbirds that are small or even wrapped around your wrist. These tiny feeders have only one feeding port, so this ensures you can see the hummingbird as closely as possible.

How To Attract Hummingbirds To Your Hand

After the hummingbirds are comfortable feeding while you’re holding their feeders and even sitting on your finger, you can train them to eat sugar water out of your hand. This step will be most successful if you have a small, one-port feeder that fits in your palm.

Begin by holding the feeder in the palm of your hand. Once the hummers confidently feed out of that feeder, pour some sugar water directly into your palm and sit very still. Over time, the hummingbirds will feed directly out of your palm!

Once the hummers know that your hand is a food source, they will come to feed again and again! By following the steps above and using great patience, you can attract hummingbirds right to your hand for bird-watching entertainment!

how to attract hummingbirds to your hand

Making Your Backyard Hummingbird-Friendly

The more you can make your backyard attractive to hummingbirds, the better chance you will have of hand-feeding hummingbirds. Hummingbirds like native plants, birdbaths, and areas to perch, so ensuring that your backyard has these plants will help attract hummingbirds.

Plants To Consider

Hummingbirds are attracted to flowering plants with tubular shapes and bright colors. Hummingbirds are especially attracted to the color red. Planting red flowers in your backyard will help attract hummingbirds. Salvia and honeysuckle are attractive because of their tubular-shaped flowers. Be careful with honeysuckle, as the vine can be invasive if not properly taken care of.

Native Plants

Whenever you plan a garden or choose to landscape, always consider native plants. Since native plants are unique to your area, these plants will benefit pollinators like wasps and bees and attract hummingbirds. Some native plants to consider are bee balm and columbine. Bee balm attracts a variety of pollinators as well as hummingbirds, and columbine is an excellent choice because it has the tubular flowers that hummingbirds love.

holding a hummingbird

Feeding Stations

In order to attract many hummingbirds, you should have multiple feeding stations. Hummingbirds are tiny but aggressive, and the males will sit on nearby perches, ready to defend their food source. The more food sources you have, the more hummingbirds will be able to feed. Make sure to keep your feeders clean and free of small insects.

Make Your Own Sugar Water

Make your DIY hummingbird food with four cups of boiled water to one cup of white sugar. Leave out the red food coloring because hummers don’t need it. Hummingbirds will still find your homemade nectar without the red dye, and the red dye could be harmful to them.

Placement of Feeders

Place hummingbird feeders away from other wild bird feeders. Hummers are particular about their food, and placing the feeder away from other birds is important, so the hummingbirds don’t feel threatened.

Sarah Pearce

Sarah enjoys feeding hummingbirds in the warmer months, and a range of finches, woodpeckers, and cardinals in the cooler months. She enjoys researching and learning more about birds, gardening, and preserving food. She is learning how to maximize her small city backyard and is amazed at all the possibilities. She lives in southwestern Indiana with her family.

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