Those who find joy in a visit from a hummingbird (and who doesn’t) can use a few tricks to get these fast flyers to their balcony. You may think that such a small bird, with wings that have to work so hard, wouldn’t venture up much past the first floor. However, hummingbirds have the ability to go as high as 500 feet in the air and visit 100 feet routinely. That means you have a chance of bringing in a hummingbird even on the top floors of tall buildings. In fact, as hummingbirds love to perch in high places, your balcony could become a favored spot. Here is how you can attract hummingbirds to your balcony.
1. Red Things
Hummingbirds have great vision, and they use it to find flowers that have nectar for them. Many of these flowers are red, so hummingbirds respond well to red displays. The best option is to include the native red flowers that hummingbirds are attracted to in your area. One of the very best options is California fuchsia, which needs full sun. Other hummingbird-attractors for California include:
- Chaparral currant
- Fuchsia-flowered gooseberry
- Pink-flowering currant
- Scarlet bugler
- Coyote mint
If your balcony doesn’t have the right sun for these options, or if you’d rather not include real flowers, red objects are often enough to draw in hummingbirds. Red ribbons and objects that move in the wind can be particularly effective. Fake flowers, red furniture, and red décor like a garland can all also catch the attention of a hummingbird.
Keep in mind that red plants and flowers can attract other things too, such as bees and other insects. This is especially true when the flowers are in bloom. Be conscious of where you live, what the risk of additional bugs looks like for you, and whether any friends or loved ones have health risks associated with bee exposure.
2. Sugar Solution Feeders
Once you’ve caught a hummingbird’s attention, you need to give it a reason to come back. If you’re growing real flowers, they can provide enough nectar on their own. But, otherwise, you will need some kind of food to offer hummingbirds. They drink sugar water, which is simple enough to provide in either store-bought hummingbird feeder or home-made containers.
The amount of sugar in the water matters a great deal. The right mix is roughly one cup of sugar for every four cups of warm water. Too sweet, or too watery and the hummingbirds won’t drink it. We suggest you use warm water and stir well in order to ensure that all of the water is mixed well.
Be sure not to use any artificial sweetener in your hummingbird feeders. The birds won’t know the difference, but they won’t receive any calories from the food, often resulting in death.
3. Try a Little Lower
Having trouble getting hummingbirds up to your place? It can work to attract hummingbirds to the ground below your apartment, or a friend who lives a few floors down first. Hummingbirds are more likely to see red things and sugar feeders closer to the ground. But once they are visiting the area they will also branch out and look for more, which could lead them up to you. Work with a friend or talk to the building managers to make a lower display for the birds first. Shrubs, other hummingbird feeders, and places for nesting can all help attract them.
What if hummingbirds pop in quickly, but then leave? You can encourage them to stay by offering perching spots that are thin enough for their tiny feet. Hummingbirds love to perch and must spend a great deal of their time resting.
Looking for more info? Check out Audubon’s guide to creating a hummingbird-friendly yard.