Create A Hummingbird Friendly Yard

By Michaela Ludwig

Bird enthusiasts of all ages love catching a glimpse of the small, speedy hummingbird. With their beautiful colours and wings that beat so fast they “hum,” these birds are fascinating to watch.


British Columbia sees five species of hummingbirds regularly: the Rufous, Anna’s, Calliope and black-chinned hummingbirds are found mostly west of the Rocky Mountains, while the ruby-throated hummingbird is found on the east side of the mountains and has been spotted, although rarely, further into BC’s interior.

Anna’s hummingbird.

Rufous and Anna’s hummingbirds can be found on southern Vancouver Island and along the coast. Rufous will migrate back to the US Gulf Coast and Mexico during the colder spells, while Anna’s will stay in BC all year long.


In the interior portion of the province, Rufous, Calliope and black-chinned hummingbirds are a common sight in the spring and summer, where they migrate up from Mexico and breed in BC.



Everything about a hummingbird moves fast – according to the Vancouver Avian Research Centre, a hummingbird’s heart beats 500 to 600 times a minute when the bird is resting, and up to 1,200 times per minute while in flight. At rest, their breathing rate is about 300 times a minute, and about 500 breaths per minute while in flight.


There are several ways to attract and help nourish these birds, such as planting flowers they like, using nectar feeders and more.


Hummingbirds, with their long bills and grooved tongues, are made for probing flowers and drinking nectar. Nectar gives these birds their much-needed energy and makes up about 90 per cent of a hummingbird’s diet.


From the Vancouver Avian Research Centre, you’ll want to fill your yard with native flowering plants, vines, shrubs and trees. If you only have a deck or window box available, a single plant or hanging basket will also help feed these small birds. Don’t use harmful pesticides in your yard and try to group similar plants together, choosing plant species that will bloom at different periods so there will be a steady supply of food.


Some examples of plants that hummingbirds like:

  • Beebalm
  • Blood currant
  • Harebell
  • Crimson columbine
  • Red elder
  • Scarlet skyrocket
  • Trumpet honeysuckle
  • Hummingbird sage


It’s also important to have flowers that are pollinated by insects, as hummingbirds need the protein from eating insects to maintain their health.

A closeup shot of the Anna’s hummingbird flying.

Be sure to provide several safe places for hummingbirds to perch, rest and sleep, with some spots out in the open and others in protected areas.


Hummingbird feeders are another great way to bring these birds into your yard and to help keep them fed. This is especially true for Anna’s hummingbirds, which winter over in BC.


Here are some tips for your hummingbird feeders from the Vancouver Avian Research Centre:

  • Hang the feeders far enough apart that the hummingbirds can’t see each other and high enough so any local cats can’t reach them.
  • Fill your feeders with sugar water, made by mixing four parts hot water to one part processed white sugar, boiled for a minute or two. Do not use honey, sugar cane, artificial sweetener or red dye.
  • Clean the feeders once a week using a solution that’s one part white vinegar and four parts water.
  • Either or – take your feeders down each fall or keep them up all winter long. Anna’s hummingbirds, which winter over, will become dependent on the feeders they find, so it’s important to keep them filled and not let them freeze.


Hummingbirds like to build their nests near a steady supply of nectar and other food. To encourage them to nest in your yard, maintain some shrubbery and small deciduous trees where they can seek some cover.


Hummingbirds like to bathe often and having a constant water source in your yard will also attract these birds – a drip fountain attachment, a misting device or gurgler stones are all attractive options for hummingbirds.


These small, beautiful birds are a sight to behold and you won’t be disappointed when they start coming around more often.

Featured Product: BC Mag 2019 Calendar