How to Feed Hummingbirds by Hand and Pretty Hummingbird Photos

by happynutritionist

While I watch hummingbirds at my feeder each summer, others watch them up close by hand-feeding them. I hope you enjoy this information on feeding hummingbirds by hand.

While some look to their gardens for signs of spring and summer, I look to the hummingbirds. I follow the hummingbird migration maps, and determine when they will return to their favorite tree on our property each Spring. My hummingbird feeder goes out early in the season so that it is ready for the first arrival.

And then, late in the summer, I know that soon they will leave and move to warmer regions. The feeder is emptied later in the season at a much quicker rate because now the young have grown so there are more "hummers", and because they are eating a lot to gain energy for their flight south.

But feeding them by hand, that is a heartwarming treat that allows you to look at them up closely.

I hope to share with you how to feed hummingbirds by hand, and a place or two where it is a very popular thing to do.

by Claudia Meydrech aka happynutritionist
New July 2011 ~ Updated 10/26/16

This is what our Male Ruby Throated Hummingbirds look like

The females and young do not have the red throat

Getting close to feeding hummingbirds by hand

But not quite....yet

We never thought we would have as many hummingbirds as we do at our feeder here in Northern NJ.  When we first moved into our home over 30 years ago you rarely saw them...but you never saw bears either, time changes things and now we see both.

In our part of the country the only variety of hummingbird that we have is the Ruby Throated Hummingbird.  I learned to love hummingbirds when we were out west staying in Arizona for an extended period of time due to a business trip my husband was on.  Numerous hummers would come to our feeder at one time, there never seemed to be a moment when there were no hummingbirds.

Another year we were in Colorado at a beautiful location for the night in the outdoors, and the people we were visiting showed us that if you put your fingers on either side of the feeder, the hummingbirds would land on your fingers like a perch while they ate.  All of us tried it successfully.

But actually getting them to come and eat from your hand like the picture from bird takes patience. I love this site, by the way, as it has one of the nicest Hummingbird Migration Maps that I've seen where anyone can post their sightings. (I have no affiliation with the site).

Watch someone hand feed a hummingbird at Lake Hope State Park in Ohio

A very popular thing to do there in July and August

More information about the Ohio program in the video above

What a delightful experience it must be for visitors

At Lake Hope State Park in Ohio in July and August there is a program devoted to hand feeding the local hummingbirds.  They teach you how it's done. 

It looks like they use the little things that I have removed from the bottom of the stem of single red roses my husband has given me.  I've never saved them before...the next time he brings me a rose I just may be more excited about the little thing on the stem (I don't know what they're called) than the rose.

Enjoy the beautiful video above, you'll get the idea of how it's done.  These hummingbirds are very familiar with taking food this way, I'd have to "teach" ours, but I don't think it would take long.


Here's How to Feed Hummingbirds by Hand

Patience, stillness, quietness, and more patience

Here are a few tips on feeding hummingbirds by hand:

  1. Mix the right proportion of suger and water...that would be roughly 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.
  2. Find the right kind of feeder.  Actually, you could just sit and hold the feeder you are using right now.  I'm thinking of trying that tomorrow.  When I go out to fill the feeder, I am close to assaulted by hungry hummingbirds buzzing so close to me I can feel the wind from their wings.  I'm sure if I sat down holding the feeder, they would eventually come and eat from it, if I'm very quiet and very patience, because this would be a new thing for both of us.  I expect the young hummingbirds born this year to be the most daring, they have "grown up" seeing me every day of their life.  I'll let you know how it goes when I try it.  You can go ahead and try one of the flower stem/bud holders with some red wrapped around the top if you want to use something smaller, or a very small, clean glass vial or bottle with something red wrapped around the top.  I think I will start with the feeder they are accustomed to, then move on to something smaller.  You could hold your smaller feeder near the one they are used to if you like and see if that will draw them.
  3. Be very patient and quiet, no sudden moves, no sudden noises. 

Hummingbird Feeders

Ours is similar to the first one. With this type the hummingbirds can sit on the perches while they eat. At first I was concerned about it being glass, but it's worked out just fine for years. It's very heavy duty and washes in the dishwasher
More Birds Ruby Hummingbird Feeder, G...
Jensen Distributing - Lawn & Garden
$11.99  $9.94
More Birds Glory Hummingbird Feeder, ...
Classic Brands , LLC
Only $14.06
More Birds Vintage Hummingbird Feeder...
Classic Brands
$24.99  $16.99

We had a Hummingbird fly into the house a few years ago

My son was visiting and helped us catch it. It was amazing to have this little creature sit so still on my hand.
Our son trying to catch a Hummingbird
Our son trying to catch a Hummingbird
We did finally catch her
We did finally catch her
She was so tired, she rested for a while on my hand
She was so tired, she rested for a wh...
After a rest, she finally flew away
After a rest, she finally flew away

Birds and Blooms ~ A gift I've given to my Mom

We just love this magazine, such well written down-to-earth articles, no ads
Birds and Blooms
Only $10.0
Updated: 10/26/2016, happynutritionist
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happynutritionist on 10/26/2016

@MBC I'll have to stop by and visit your article, I can't believe you commented in January and I missed it!

MBC on 01/08/2016

Love your photos. I also have an article on Hummingbirds. They are so fascinating!

happynutritionist on 05/22/2015

@DerdriuMarriner this is a good observation that you have made.

DerdriuMarriner on 05/22/2015

happynutritionist, It's also charming to realize that generations are returning to the same feeders and backyards. The continuity of parents passing on to their offspring, who pass the info on to their offspring, etc., the tradition of visiting specific feeders attests to the intelligence and loyalty of birds in establishing familiarity in their lives. Bird parents want their offspring to feel safe.

happynutritionist on 05/21/2015

That is how I feel about it, and you are right, they do come back, those with unique markings I can recognize. The babies are at the hummingbird feeder these days which always makes for a lot more chasing one another.

DerdriuMarriner on 05/15/2015

happynutritionist, Birds can be such welcome guests in our lives. It's fun to think that, since they often return to the same feeders and backyards, they look forward to annual reunions with us as much as we look forward to their return visits.

happynutritionist on 09/01/2014

Thank you, I am looking at one out my window now and realizing it will only be a matter of a week to a few weeks before they migrate away for the winter, the food is going down fast and I have to fill the feeder again.

Raintree on 08/27/2014

I love birds and Hummingbirds are so beautiful! I would love to have the opportunity to feed them. Your photos are lovely and I enjoyed reading this article :)

dustytoes on 09/07/2012

What wonderful photos you have here! I love hummingbirds and use that Perky Pet feeder. I seldom see more than one hummingbird use it at a time. They are always chasing each other away.

ChrisHugh on 07/07/2012

Goodness, what a magical article. I feel like getting a hummingbird feeder now! But the birds tease my cats. LOL. Seriously, they do. Animals are so weird sometimes. :)

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