Backyard Birding Gone Wild

This autumn brought a significant change to the Rainy Day Garden and Cottage. My attempts to attract birds to our backyard - succeeded...and then some.

Specifically, hummingbirds.

Previous to this past September, I would have 2 - 3 Anna hummingbirds, and a few Rufus in the summer months, visit daily. I had two, 16oz hummingbird feeders that I kept clean and filled all year round. This was more than sufficient. This was the pattern for about six years.

Then, around the end of this past September, more Anna hummingbirds started to hang around. By the end of October, I was making 32oz of hummingbird food to fill both feeders, every night.

I had to up my game and move to 32oz feeders. We counted about 12-13 Anna's visiting daily.

New 32ox hummingbird feeders
These daily visitors were mostly juveniles. They were fairly peaceful and would gather together in large groups to feed.

Anna Hummingbirds
Until that 'one' guy would come around....

I counted 15 birds feeding at the same time in late November. However, December added a few more. Recently, I counted over 20. Every port was filled at the feeders and a few more were waiting for their turn.

Now, the little males are getting more dominant and territorial as they get older. I added another 16 oz feeder in addition to the two - 32oz feeders, for one of little males who won't let anyone eat in peace.

I'm making 64 oz of hummingbird food ever other day. Maybe I should change the name of my blog to the 'Hummingbird Cottage'?

Mostly, I'm sad that there are so many hummingbirds hanging around. It means there's likely not enough natural food for them to eat this winter.

We've had several small homes on our block get demolished and turned into McMansions over the past two years. There is much less vegetation on these lots now and most of it is landscaped with a landscaping maintenance crew in mind, not wildlife.

My winter landscape has some plants for feeding Anna hummingbirds, but not this many. So, I'll keep the feeders filled up and start thinking about where I can add more plants for winter food.

Here are some plants that I have planted in my gardens to provide food for the hummingbirds throughout the year:

Salvia 'Black and Blue' (4)
Salvia 'Amistad' (2)
Hall's Honeysuckle (3)
Bee Balm (3) - Jacob Cline
Iris (multiple - all gifted from fellow garden bloggers)
Penstemons (2)
Manzanita - Arctostaphylos ‘Austin Griffiths
Grevillea - Neil Bell
Phygelius (2)
Camilla - Heirloom unknown variety
Agastache (2)
Jupiter's Beard (I've lost's happily spreading all over)
Abelia 'Sunshine Daydream' & Kaleidoscope
Pieris - Pieris japonica Scarlett O'Hara
Heath - Calluna Vulgaris 'Firefly'
Currant (King Edward, Native Red (2), Native Yellow (2)
Oregon Plum

And..I do not use any pesticides. I haven't used pesticides in my gardens for over seven years and it's really starting to make a difference. I have so many different birds that visit my garden all year; it's impressive for such a small, urban, space. I'll post more of my winter friends like these lesser goldfinch in another post.

Happy winter birding! Cheers, Jenni


  1. How fantastic, Jen! Congratulations on your backyard sanctuary! So lovely. I especially love the list of plants that are hummingbird food. I love it!

    1. It's getting there :) It's good to make a list every now and then - this way I can see the holes - like a need for more winter bloomers!

  2. We have a lot but not this many. Congratulations!

  3. Sixty-four ounces? That's a lot of hummer food. It's wonderful that you've got so visitors. And how tragic that stupid, money-hungry developers keep damaging the birds' habitat. When will enough houses be enough? Your photos of your darlings are so heartwarming. I'm trying to get more winter bloomers in my garden. Although I'm not a huge fan of yellow, I'm thinking I need to add the winter blooming Jasmine, Jasminium nudiflorum to the garden. Happy New Year.

  4. I don't see Mahonia on your list. My three Mahonia 'Charity' are flowering profusely right now, and providing food for hummers, at a time when little else is flowering. There is one right outside the TV room window, and sometimes I raise the shade and just watch that instead of the TV. I love that you have so many.

    1. Hi Alison, yes..Mahonia are missing in my gardens! I was thinking they needed to be added. Happy New Year!

  5. I have to admit I'm jealous. When we moved to the cabin I had five peaceful green hummingbirds and one angry red one. He buzzed everyone. He would follow behind my husband when he was mowing the lawn trying to fight our red lawnmower. He even landed on the back of a baby one at the feeder and clawed him. The next year had a bunch of the green ones. Then I had none for several years. I heard there was a tropical storm in Mexico and many died. Now and get one or two a year and only for a month or two. I had one stay until the end of October! I am infatuated with them. I could only dream of having as many as you. It must be amazing to watch them.

    1. Oh Bonnie..the lesson I've learned is be careful of what you wish for. There are so many hummingbirds, it's impossible to be gone overnight because I need to keep refilling the feeders - almost daily. But, I've accepted the mission and hope that when warmer weather comes, some of them will find new territory. We have a cold snap approaching and I'm not sure of how cold it will get but it has the potential to eliminate more winter food sources for the hummingbirds. Anna hummingbirds winter over in the Pacific NW. Rufus hummers come in the warm months and leave by September. Those are the only types we get. I suspect you have the potential to get more varieties. They are incredible birds. I have the feeds hanging down from my front porch, so I can watch them out of our front window. All of their personalities - it's quite something. Overall, I am enjoying them.


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