Wildlife viewing makes camping fun! You don’t have to be an avid bird-watcher to enjoy hummers. They may visit your camping area naturally but if you want larger groups of them, you need to know how to attract hummingbirds to your campsite. You can HEAR THE BIRDS in the VIDEO by turning up the VOLUME.
Home vs Campsite Hummingbird Attraction
There is one big difference between feeding hummingbirds at a campsite vs at your home.
These little birds like to return to the same feeding spots over and over again.
Experts say after you hang a new hummingbird feeder, typically 2 WEEKS will pass before you receive your FIRST visitor to new food sources!
That’s a huge problem … You are usually in a camping location for a short period of time. If you have to wait two weeks before the little critters find your feeder … you’ll probably be long gone! And, if they do find you sooner, the birds won’t have many chances to return like they do at your home.
Home Landscape Design vs Untouched Nature
People who love hummers actually design their landscapes and gardens to naturally attract the birds.
One of the most common places to hang a hummingbird feeder at your home is in your flower garden that is filled with plants and flowers that are already attracting the birds.
There is no such thing as a hummingbird garden when you’re camping. So, what are your options? You need to look for nectar-producing wild flowers that have long tubular shapes and produce nectar that will attract the birds.
Caution: Unwanted Wild Animals
Be aware of the potential dangers of attracting unwanted critters to your campsite hummingbird feeding station.
Your hummingbird feeder placement may attract bears. Some campgrounds prohibit the feeding of hummingbirds for this reason. If you are camping in bear country and you are allowed to feed hummers, be very cautious. You may want to take the feeders down before it gets dark so they are not tempting the bears overnight. Check out more safety tips while camping in bear country.
When you are assessing your campsite to determine the best place for hummingbird feeders, it is good to know the common ways different species of hummingbirds behave.
#1 Hummingbirds Are Territorial
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are my personal favorites but they can be intimidated by rufous hummingbirds which are much more aggressive. You can hang multiple feeders in different areas so less dominant birds have a chance to drink from your feeders. At your home, you can do this by hanging feeders on opposite sides of the house or garden. At the campsite, you can hang feeders on opposite sides of your tent or RV.
Once hummingbirds find your feeder, they will keep an eye on it from afar. They will look for a spot that has a commanding view of the feeder so they can ward off other hummingbirds that try to drink from it. A good perch for the territorial hummer usually consists of a tree branch, wire or bird feeder pole.
#2 They Are Attracted To Colors
Natural sources of nectar are often found in flowers that have red, pink and orange colors. That’s why most hummingbird feeders are predominantly red.
These fast-fliers have keen eyesight and they can see colors that humans can’t see because they can process ultraviolet light. So, don’t think you need to add red food coloring or dye to your hummingbird food to attract them … they don’t need it and that stuff is not good for them.
#3 Creatures Of Habit
After the first time a hummingbird discovers your feeder, you can expect them to return. These little guys can only handle so much nectar at a time. The best way to ensure frequent visits is to leave the feeder in the same location and keep it filled with a good nectar solution.
#4 Multiple Nectar Locations
Don’t be upset when a hummingbird leaves your feeder to visit a wildflower for their next meal. They like to fly to different nectar sources as they dine … sort of like me at the dessert table of a buffet-style restaurant.
#5 Feeling Safe Is Important To Them
These tiny birds don’t like being exposed in an open area without protective cover. They like feeding in areas that are near “safe zones” where they can fly for protection, like dense foliage, trees and bushes.
#6 Other Food Sources For Hummers
Did you know hummingbirds eat small insects? Overly ripe fruit will attract fruit flies which will then attract hummingbirds.
A Place Where The Hummingbirds Dance
When we are camping, our goal is to create a stage for the hummingbirds to dance. That means we use multiple feeders that are placed in strategic locations. Here are the things we consider.
The Best Place To Position Hummingbird Feeders
Where to place feeders to attract the largest number of hummingbirds is specific to your individual location … whether you are at home or in the wilderness.
The best options have commonalities based on the typical hummingbird behaviors we just discussed. When you are looking for the right position, consider different locations that will be:
#1 Visible To The Birds But Near Shelter
If hummingbirds can’t find your feeder, they won’t come! Make sure you place the feeder in a highly visible place at your campsite. Once they see it, they’ll need a nearby hiding place to watch their new-found food supply. So, the location should not be in totally open space … it should have a clear view from a safe spot that has some sheltering plants or trees. I’ve read statistics that say your feeder should be no further than 10 – 15 feet from a safe protection zone.
#2 Convenient For You
You’re attracting hummingbirds for your enjoyment so make sure the feeder location is within view of your relaxation zone … just make sure that hummingbirds cannot get trapped inside tents or RVs.
If you are camped in one location long enough, you’ll also need the feeder within easy reach for refilling and cleaning.
You probably don’t want the feeder hanging too close to your gear in case it drips. The sugar water will attract ants and if you are dry camping, you don’t want to be cleaning your equipment when you are trying to reduce your water consumption.
#3 Safe Distance From Windows
Window collisions are dangerous for all types of birds. You either want to hang the feeder directly on the window with a suction cup hanger or place it far enough away from the window to prevent crashes, generally 15 – 20 feet is sufficient.
When the outdoor nature landscape is reflected in the glass, birds may have a tendency to fly directly into the glass. This can be avoided by placing decals on windows.
If a male bird sees its own reflection, it may think it’s seeing a rival bird, try to attack it and smash right into the glass.
Be conscious of the windows in the area and place your feeder in a safe location.
#4 Away From Predators & Pests
The question: Should hummingbird feeders be high or low?
The answer: As high as necessary for the safety of the birds. You want to make sure the hummers are out of reach from predators (including house cats!)
We are cat people and, yes, we do take our furry kids camping with us! Our cats are indoor pets so they get to enjoy the nature show from our RV’s big back window where we have small hummingbird feeders hanging on suction-cup hooks.
In addition to domestic pets, you want to keep the hummingbirds protected from wild animals and pests. Ants, bees and wasps are particularly annoying and can be deterred if you use feeders with ant moats and bee guards.
I have a friend, Charlotte, who is a Master Beekeeper. One of her useful tips for keeping bees away from hummingbird feeders is to use red-only hummingbird feeders because red attracts hummingbirds but yellow attracts insects … including bees! If your feeders have yellow feed ports, she suggests painting them with non-toxic red paint.
#5 Isolated From Other Birds
Hummingbirds don’t like feeding near larger birds. So, if you have seed feeders or suet feeders that attract other bird species, you’ll want to position them in a separate area away from the hummingbird feeders. Remember when you are feeding birds, you may also attract small animals to your campsite so anticipate the arrival of squirrels, mice and other rodents.
#6 Out Of Direct Sunlight
Direct sunlight and hot weather are a bad combination because mold growth happens rapidly. If the nectar spoils before the hummingbirds consume all of it, you’ll need to thoroughly wash your feeder before refilling it.
The hot sun of the summer months is the worst scenario, but mold can grow in the cold winter too … it just occurs at a slower pace.
A great way to delay (or even avoid) mold growth is to hang your feeders in a shady location.
#7 Properly Spaced
If you hang multiple feeders, you’ll probably attract more hummingbirds AND keep them around your campsite for longer periods of time. Space the feeders so the birds have room to fly around as they visit multiple nectar sources near your camp.
#8 Protected From The Wind
Strong winds cause feeders to sway and leak … which, in turn, attracts more ants and bees than the usual non-leaking feeder. Look for spots to hang feeders where they are protected from severe windy conditions.
Where To Hang Hummingbird Feeders At Campsites
After years of experience I have great ideas that bring the best results to attract hummers to your camp.
My advice on where to place hummingbird feeders is different for each campground so use the above tips when you assess your individual campsite.
You don’t need THE right place to hang a feeder if you hang multiple feeders. You only have a short period of time to attract and enjoy these birds so use as many feeders as you have to get the party started.
Having multiple feeders almost ensures you’ll have a larger number of birds because the aggressive birds can’t be at all the feeders all the time … this prevents the fighters from dominating your entire collection of feeders.
If you are camping in the woods, you’ll probably have plenty of tree branches for hanging your feeders. That is one of the reasons we love White Mountain Arizona camping!
Not every camping destination is in the forest. If you’re camping in the desert or on the beach, try using a shepherd’s hook to hang your feeders.
Many campers use portable shade structures while they are camping. The frame structure is a great spot for hanging your hummingbird feeders so they get up-close and personal with you when you are relaxing on your trips.
If you camp in an RV that has an awning, the awning arms work really well for hanging your feeders. Just make sure you remove the feeders before retracting the awning … especially if you are in a hurry and racing to bring your awnings in before a storm with heavy winds.
The side of your house on wheels is a great place to hang window feeders … I can’t think of a better way to make washing dishes fun! With the right angle, kitchen window hummingbird feeders can actually get you more help with kitchen chores! Make sure you use lightweight feeders that are securely held by suction cups that attach the feeder to a window.
Nope, this is not a typo! Hand-feeding hummingbirds is AWESOME! If you use the right feeder you’ll have a better chance to attract them close enough to start feeding them within a few minutes.
Hummingbird Food Recipe Without Boiling Water
Hummingbirds feed on the nectar in native plants but the tiny birds will be happy to indulge in anything that is a similar sugar solution. If you want to make your own nectar to fill your feeder, you can just mix your own. Some bird lovers mix equal parts water to sugar. Other recipes call for 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.
Other enthusiasts say it depends on the time of year … the little birds need more water in the hot seasons so they don’t dehydrate but more sugar in the cold seasons when they need energy for their long migrations … so … you can sweeten up the mixture to 1 part sugar to 3 parts water.
If you use too much sugar, the mixture can actually harm the hummingbirds by causing dehydration, deficiencies of calcium, weakening muscles and malformed bones so please AVOID ratios of 1:2 or 1:1 sugar to water.
Hummingbirds are attracted to bright colors, especially red, orange and pink, so many people use some sort of red dye or red food coloring in their homemade hummingbird food … thinking it will attract more birds … that is not the case.
Artificial sweeteners and colors can harm the birds so please avoid using them.
Using red feeders is sufficient to provide the color the birds identify with as a food source. Finding a good place to hang your feeder is the most important factor in attracting hummingbirds to your camping site.
- Refined pure white table sugar
- Clean drinking water
Do NOT Use:
- Raw sugar
- Organic sugar
- Brown sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Artificial sweeteners
Why? These ingredients may contain iron which is toxic to hummingbirds. Conversely, the processing of regular table sugar removes the molasses that contains the iron. Honey can cause fungal overgrowth which needs to be avoided.
Simple No-Boil Hummingbird Food Recipe
1/4 cup plain white table sugar
1 cup drinking water
Place ingredients in a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. (I like using my hiking water bottle.)
Tighten the lid and shake the container until all of the sugar is completely dissolved.
Fill your favorite hummingbird feeders with the food.
Store any unused sugar water in a refrigerator or cooler up to a week.
Cleaning Hummingbird Feeders
This is one of the most important tips I want to share. Not only do dirty and moldy feeders discourage the hummingbirds from visiting … if they do drink from them … the little critters can get sick.
Whenever you clean your nectar feeders, use hot water and a clean brush to remove all mold from the feeder without using chemicals that can harm the birds.
Smaller feeders are particularly difficult to clean after they get moldy so try to prevent the mold from forming in the first place.
Hummingbird Viewing During Camp Trips Has Benefits
One of the things I love about camping is slowing down and smelling the roses … or, uh, watching the hummingbirds dance. Don’t get me wrong … it’s not that I don’t notice the hummingbirds in the Valley … it’s that I don’t take the time to notice them for more than a few seconds at a time.
And when I do notice them, it seems they are trying to kill each other. So, I’m not sure if it’s my imagination, but it seems like the hummingbirds in Arizona’s High Country are friendlier … to each other and to humans.
They seem to be a little more willing to let you get up-close-and-personal.
Or then again, maybe it’s just me … slowing down to really see their performance. I highly recommend you try it. You just might find more than a couple of tiny creatures doing the waltz.
Our Favorite Place To Watch The Hummingbirds Dance
We love seeing our backyard birds when we are at home and they are romping around in our bird bath and water fountain and dining at our feeders. But, when we’re camped, the best hummingbird viewing location is when we’re enjoying Arizona Mogollon Rim Camping.
We go there to take our 2-week vacation in the summer and by the time we leave, I think we’ve fed as many hummers as you find in the entire United States … maybe even all of North America.
Well, that is a slight exaggeration but we do enjoy A LOT of hummingbirds there. We realized it is a great spot for attracting the birds after we visited the fire lookout tower and the lady working there had swarms of them at her feeders!
Enjoying Your Camping Meals Alongside The Birds
You can almost plan on dinner with the hummingbirds if you time your meal correctly. They like to eat their evening meal just before the sun goes down. Here are some awesome recipes to feed your family too!