How to Attract Rufous Hummingbirds to Your Backyard

Two Parts:Attracting the rufous hummingbirdMaking a suitable feeding solution for rufous hummingbirds

Rufous hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) are an aggressive hummingbird species. These comical little characters buzz above red, tubular flowers, picking dog fights with fellow birds. They are known to drink from man-made feeders, catch winged insects, and lick sap from a tree. These little birds can make anyone smile.

Part 1
Attracting the rufous hummingbird

  1. 1
    Know whether you are located in this bird's range.They are renowned for their long flying journeys to migrate to the warmth. The rufous hummingbirds travel nearly 4,000 miles from breeding grounds in Alaska and northwest Canada to wintering sites in Mexico. They travel north up the Pacific Coast in spring and return by the Rocky Mountains in late summer and fall.
  2. 2
    Set up hummingbird feeders in your yard. To attract rufouses to your yard isn't complicated. Simply put up some hummingbird feeders, and be sure to keep the feeders a certain distance from each other (5-7 feet). This prevents the hummingbirds from driving each other off; therefore attracting a greater quantity of the birds.
  3. 3
    Avoid using red dye solution. Either choose a red colored feeder or firmly tie a wide red ribbon on the feeder to attract the attention of the rufous hummingbird. Do the same for each feeder used.

Part 2
Making a suitable feeding solution for rufous hummingbirds

  1. 1
    Make a suitable solution for the rufous hummingbirds. The following recipe is ideal for attracting rufouses: Mix 4 parts water to 1 part table sugar in a pan. For example, use 1 cup sugar to 4 cups water.
    • Do not use honey, Jell-O or brown sugar. Most of all, do not use artificial sweeteners. Putting hummingbirds on a diet will kill them. They burn prodigious amounts of energy for their size and need real sugar.
    • Do not use red food coloring. It is unnecessary and can harm the little hummers, even in low concentrations, because they eat so much nectar. If your feeder isn't red, tie a red ribbon on it as described in the feeders section, above.
    • Do not add anything else that you might think of. Just sugar and water, that's all.
  2. 2
    Bring the mixture a boil then remove from the heat. Stir it while it is heating until all of the sugar is dissolved.
    • Don't boil it for long because that will change the ratio as water is boiled off. The reason for boiling is not to make syrup, but to drive out the chlorine in the water and to kill mold and yeast spores that might be in the sugar. This will help make the nectar last longer both in the feeder and in your refrigerator.
  3. 3
    Cover and allow to cool before using or pouring into the storage bottle. It is recommended that you make a large batch of nectar, then store it in the refrigerator in a 2-liter soda bottle (washed thoroughly first.) This makes refilling the feeder so easy that you won't mind doing it every few days.


  • Take time each day to watch the rufous hummingbirds in your garden. It's a pleasant way to contemplate life as you watch the wonders of nature unfold.


  • Never use red dye, this harms the hummingbirds.

Things You'll Need

  • Hummingbird feeder(s)
  • Red ribbon (if feeders are not red)
  • Syrup ingredients (water and sugar)
  • 2-liter storage bottle for syrup
  • Refrigerator

Article Info

Categories: Birdwatching