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Hummingbirds: A Guide For Oregon Homeowners

Hummingbirds: A Guide For Oregon Homeowners

Hummingbirds in Oregon

There are tons of amazing animals living in the trees around our area– everything from squirrels to owls. One of my favorites are hummingbirds: they’re colorful, playful, aren’t afraid of people, and can be fun for kids and pets to watch.

Today, we’ll talk about how to attract hummingbirds to your yard, and how to feed and care for them. Plus, you’ll learn a few fun facts about the hummingbirds that call the Portland area home.

What Kind of Hummingbirds Live in Oregon?

There are 8 different kinds of hummingbirds that live in Oregon.

  • Rufous Hummingbird
  • Anna’s Hummingbird
  • Calliope Hummingbird
  • Costa’s Hummingbird
  • Allen’s Hummingbird
  • Broad-tailed Hummingbird
  • Broad-billed Hummingbird
  • Black-chinned Hummingbird

But here in Portland, you’re most likely to see Rufous and the Anna’s hummingbirds.

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

The Anna’s Hummingbird lives in the Pacific Northwest all year round. It’s what is called a resident hummingbird. They have bright shiny green and red feathers that look almost like shiny jewelry. They’re very tiny, about the size of a table tennis ball and they weigh less than a nickel.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

The Rufous Hummingbird is a tough little customer. They’re known for being very aggressive and territorial, sometimes fighting with birds over twice their size. They’re migratory and usually start showing up in Portland in the early summer.

How to Attract Hummingbirds

The cool thing about hummingbirds is that they’re always looking for food. Despite their tiny size, they need to drink as much as twice their body weight in nectar every single day. That’s because their wings beat over 50 times per second and they use up a lot of energy.

Hummingbirds also have great memories and once they find a source of food, they’ll set up shop nearby. And they’ll keep coming back year after year. So once you’ve got a few hummingbirds in your yard, they’ll be there to enjoy for a long time.

What to Plant

Plants to Attract Hummingbird

If you have a garden in your yard, there are flowers and plants you can use to attract hummingbirds:

  • Oregon Grapes
  • Western Bleeding Hearts
  • Columbines
  • Honeysuckle
  • Indian Paintbrush
  • Penstemons

Using a Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbird Feeder

While natural plants are great for attracting hummingbirds to your yard, nothing beats a hummingbird feeder. They’re inexpensive, easy to maintain, and hummingbirds just love them.

How to Choose a Hummingbird Feeder

Look for a feeder with a glass nectar container– not plastic. It’ll just last longer and be easier to clean. Also look for one with an ant guard to keep insects away. Other than that, just look for a design and style you like– the hummingbirds aren’t picky.

How to Make Your Own Nectar

Sugar for Hummingbirds

NEVER put honey or any artificial sweeteners into your hummingbird feeder. And only use white sugar NEVER brown sugar. And NEVER buy any commercial hummingbird food that has artificial coloring added to it. Instead, follow this simple recipe and make your own hummingbird food.


  • 1 part sugar (adjust the amount based on the size of your feeder)
  • 4 parts water


  • Bring to a boil for 2 minutes and stir
  • Let cool and then add the mix to your feeder
  • Store any extra nectar in the refrigerator for up to a week
  • Change the nectar in your feeder every week or when it runs out– whichever comes first

Cleaning Your Hummingbird Feeder

During the rainy months, you might see a bit of mold growing on your feeder. Try to bring it inside and clean it out every week or two. Use small pipe cleaners or Q-tips to get into the small hard to reach spots.

How Many Hummingbird Feeders Do You Need?

Hummingbirds are very feisty and territorial birds. Often a single hummingbird will claim a feeder as his or her own and defend it aggressively. If you have a big yard and see hummingbirds fighting over the feeder, consider getting a second feeder and putting it on the other side of your yard.

That way, more hummingbirds will come to your yard and have plenty of nectar to drink!

Cold Weather & Hummingbird Feeders

Icy Weather

It’s especially important to take special care of your hummingbird feeder during the winter. Hummingbirds sometimes have a tough time finding nectar on plants that die in cold weather and might need your feeder to stay well fed.

Unfortunately, during very cold weather, your feeder might freeze over. The nectar can also separate back into an uneven mix of water and sugar which can make hummingbirds sick. So keep an eye on your feeder.

Here are a few tips for caring for your hummingbird feeder during the winter:

    1. If the weather is really cold, bring your feeder in at night. Don’t forget to put it back out in the morning when hummingbirds are at their most active and hungriest.
    2. If temperatures are below freezing during the day, you can wrap a chemical handwarmer around the feeder to keep it from freezing. It might look silly but your hummingbirds will thank you.

NEVER use more sugar to make a solution that won’t freeze. The extra sugar can make hummingbirds sick.

What To Do If You Find a Sick or Injured Hummingbird

Because hummingbirds are so tiny, they sometimes get hurt. They can even get stuck in a spider’s web. If you find a sick or injured hummingbird, contact the Portland Audubon Society at 503-292-0304. Call them before you pick the bird up or try to move it.

They’re a great resource and can help you decide what to do.

Don’t Touch Hummingbird Nests!


If you’re lucky, a mama hummingbird might decide to put a nest in your yard (probably near your feeder). These nests are very tiny and might look just like a lump on a tree branch or in a bush. But mama hummingbirds need to eat, too. So they head out often to fill up on nectar.

If you see an empty hummingbird nest, don’t assume the mama is gone for good. Odds are she’ll be back soon. So just leave it be and don’t touch it as the nests are very fragile.

Need Help With a Tree in Your Yard?

Oregon Tree Service

As certified arborists, we’ve learned a lot about hummingbirds and other local wildlife over the years. We just love to share what we know. If you have questions about anything you’ve read today or just want us to come out and take a look at a tree in your yard, contact us online or call (503) 538-8733.

Photo Credits:

julian londono via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA
Photo credit: newagecrap via Visual hunt / CC BY
Photo credit: Rick Derevan via Visualhunt / CC BY
Photo via HebiFot via
Photo credit: nordique via / CC BY
Photo credit: Ian Sane via Visual hunt / CC BY
Photo credit: Chris Sorge via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA
Photo credit: chefranden via / CC BY
Photo credit: M. Martin Vicente via / CC BY
Photo credit: Ethan Prater via / CC BY
Photo credit: a2gemma via Visual hunt / CC BY
Photo credit: Mike’s Birds via VisualHunt / CC BY-SA

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