Are Hummingbirds Attracted to Red? (Explained for Beginners)

by Kloee Ngozi
Updated on

Hummingbirds like most birds can see the colors we do and also in ultraviolet.

They can distinguish colors better than we humans and one of their favorite colors is the color red.

Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red and they are usually more attracted to red flowers and this is also the reason why most bird feeders plant red flowers and use red-colored feeders to attract them.

Today we will discuss the attraction of the hummingbirds to the color red, why they like the color red, what colors they see and whether they are attracted to the color blue.

Are Hummingbirds Attracted To Red?

Are Hummingbirds Attracted to Red

Hummingbirds have a heightened sensitivity to the color red and other bright colors like the color yellow.

There is a great fascination with the red color as they are more attracted to red flowers, red feeders and they will even investigate other red objects like clothes to check if it is food.

Many bird feeders who want to attract the hummingbirds to their backyards simply have to plant red flowers with an open tubular shape that makes it easy for them to drink with their long beak.

They also make use of red feeders filled with the sweet nectar or its sugar equivalent.

Some feeders even go as far as using coloring in their sugar solution so the hummingbirds can visit their feeders.

Once they are attracted and they discover the food source is there to stay, the hummingbird would stick to your feeders.

Why Do Hummingbirds Like The Color Red?

The eyes of the hummingbird are designed differently from that of humans.

They have a higher concentration of cones in their retinas which enables them to see a wider range of colors than we do.

Humans can see colors in red, green and blue; birds also have these colors and one more which is the UV- ultraviolet vision.

This helps the birds see more colors than we humans. The UV vision comes in UV+red, UV+green, UV+blue, UV+purple and a host of other colours.  

The cones which help the birds see colors contain pigments and globules of oil which act as filters for the birds’ visions.

These filters in turn heighten the sensitivity of the hummingbird to colors within the red and yellow spectrum. 

This helps to explain why the hummingbird is so attracted to the color red.

Despite the sensitivity of the hummingbirds to the color red, some researchers were able to deduce that the birds were actually not attracted to the color of the flowers but the intensity of the nectar and the shape of the flowers. 

Related: Here is an article I wrote on are hummingbirds good pollinators

Does A Hummingbird Feeder Need To Be Red?

A hummingbird feeder in necessity doesn’t have to be red.

A lot of research has been carried out on the subject of how hummingbirds see and it has been discovered that most people buy red feeders because they think the feeders should be red. 

Hummingbirds can be any color, feeders do not have to be red as hummingbirds are attracted to flowers of colors of any color.

The most important aspect for them is the nectar or sugar content and the shape of the flowers. 

Hummingbirds love flowers that have a high nectar or sugar level which is usually between 19-21% sugar level.

These particular flowers tend to be flowers with brighter hues such as red, orange, pink, purple and yellow.

This is also the reason for the 20% sugar level for homemade sugar solutions. 

An experiment showed that hummingbirds did not have a preference in color for feeders. As soon as they discovered the feeders with the sweeter food content, they kept going back there irrespective of the color.

It is not necessary for your hummingbird feeder to be red, once they discover the food source they will keep on coming back.

To attract them to your backyard or garden, you can plant brightly colored feeders or hang up red ribbons. 

Are Hummingbirds More Attracted To Red Feeders?

If you are new to hummingbird feeding and you are wondering if you have to be a red feeder to attract the birds then it is not very necessary.

Hummingbirds are attracted to brighter colors which includes red and this has come from the conditions that brighter colored flowers had the higher percentage of nectar.  

Hummingbirds are kow to be loyal and once they discover a good source of food, they will keep on returning to that location irrespective of the color of your feeder. 

If you want the hummingbirds to keep visiting your feeders, plant a hummingbird friendly garden, place your feeders in an open location where they can easily spot them and you can also hang up brightly colored ribbons to attract the birds.

Even if the feeders are not red, they will keep on returning. 

Also check out this article I wrote on are hummingbirds good luck

What Colors Do Hummingbirds See?

All animals have rods and cones in their retinas for photoreceptors.

Cones are the photoreceptors that help us see colors. Some animals have more rods than cones e.g owls while some have more cones.

Humans have three color cones which are sensitive to the colors red, green and blue.

These help us see the colors in the rainbow and purple.

Hummingbirds on the other hand can see those three colors and also have an extra cone for ultraviolet vision.

This helps them to see colors which humans cannot see.  

Series of experiments have shown that this ultraviolet light helps them to see combination colors like UV+ red, UV+ blue, UV+purple UV+ yellow and a host of other colors.

In essence hummingbirds can see all the colors we perceive and even more. 

What Colors Do Hummingbirds Not Like?

Hummingbirds are more attracted to brighter colors such as red, orange, pink and yellow.

However they do not have colors that they dislike because if they find a food source in a dull-colored flower, they will keep on returning to it. 

Overtime, because brighter colored flowers have a higher nectar content of between 19-21 percent, hummingbirds frequented those flowers more and it was assumed that they only liked those colors.

Duller colors like white and blue colored flowers have a lower concentration of nectar with some going as low as 5% and this is not really attractive to the hummingbird. 

The most important aspect of the hummingbird’s life is food.

They require lots of nectar as they expend a great amount of energy beating their wings. 

Are Hummingbirds Attracted To Blue?

Hummingbirds are less attracted to duller colors because most dull colored flowers like blue, white or violet have a low level of nectar concentration.

Unlike their brightly colored counterparts which have a high level of nectar which can be between 19-21%.

This however does not mean a hummingbird will not feed from a blue feeder or flower.

If the flower has a tubular shape that blossoms which will be comfortable enough for the hummingbird to feed with its long beak while also having a high level of nectar, the bird will frequent that flower.

You don’t necessarily have to buy a brightly colored feeder to attract the hummingbirds, once they discover the food source they will keep on returning to the feeder. 

How Do You Attract Hummingbirds To Your Garden? 

One good way to attract hummingbirds to your garden is to plant hummingbird friendly flowers, which will attract them.

Flowers such as salvia and petunias are great to plant in your garden.

Even if you have a vegetable garden you can mix them in between the vegetable plants.

Perches and waterbaths are also great for inviting the hummingbirds to your garden.

They can get their needed rest on the perches after eating and also watch out for their territories from there. 

Sources of clean water are also important for the birds to drink and bathe in from time to time.

With all these in place you should be able to attract the beautiful iridescent creatures to your garden and feeders. 


Hummingbirds are known for their attraction to the red color and most backyard feeders will prefer to buy red colored feeders to attract the birds.

Most of the assumptions on the color association of hummingbirds have been debunked by research.

Hummingbirds can see more colors than we do though they are attracted to brighter colors because over time brighter colored flowers have turned out to be filled with a higher nectar content.

As nectar is very important to the little sprites they frequent those types of flowers regularly.

You do not have to buy a red colored feeder to attract hummingbirds to your garden, plant hummingbird friendly flowers, have perches and a water bath and watch the hummingbirds flock into your garden.

Photo of author

About the author

Kloee Ngozi

Kloee is a backyard farmer and avid gardener who enjoys tending to her garden and plants. She is so engrossed with her plants that she has pet names for all of them. She likes to relax with a bottle of wine and read a book.


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