JOPLIN, Mo. — Hummingbirds are highly desirable backyard birds. No matter how many times you see one, it is a thrill to watch these tiny birds zip around and drink from flowers and feeders.

To keep them humming around the yard through the remaining summer season, it’s important to create a welcoming environment with food, water, and shelter. While this is necessary to attract any kind of wildlife — hummingbirds are rather particular — which means you need to make specific choices to meet their preferences.

According to Robert Balek, Horticulture Specialist from the University of Missouri Extension office, some of the best ways to keep these birds around is with specific plants and feeders.

“Without these birds, you would not see the native plants. So hummingbirds are extremely important and exist to support other species as well. The birds help the plants reproduce and without the reproduction, the plants wouldn’t be there to support other species. They all seem to play a role in the grand scheme of things,” said Balek.

When it comes to choosing native plants, Balek says it’s best to get ones with brightly colored blooms.

“Plants with tubular flowers that produce a lot of nectar are best. Red, orange, or yellow flowers are also a good idea,” said Balek.

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Feeders are just as effective as plants in attracting hummingbirds to your yard, and homemade nectar can do the trick. Joplin resident, Mark Swab enjoys seeing these birds in his yard during the summer. To keep them coming back each year, Swab maintains four large hummingbird feeders. Feeding the birds has become a daily chore, but Swab doesn’t mind the work.

“Right now I’m going through about 12 cups of liquid a day. I’ve got four feeders and they hold about three cups of solution. Right now, I have to fill them every day because all the hummingbird eggs have hatched, and so they’re feeding really well,” said Swab.

Swab says he sticks with a recipe that keeps nearly 100 hummingbirds around his property throughout the summer months.

“I mix my own food for the birds. I use a 2-to-1 ratio, so that’s two cups of water to one cup of sugar. I boil the water and I usually make ten cups at a time and then add five cups of sugar to it. So, I boil the water, add the sugar after the water is boiling, and then stir it up so that it’s completely clear,” said Swab.

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“It’s important that hummingbird feeders are maintained properly. Since the nectar is sugar-based it can spoil quickly, especially in hot weather. To keep your feeder in its best shape, replace the nectar and clean the feeder every few days. It’s also important to check the nectar itself as often as possible to make sure it looks clear and unspoiled,” said Balek.

To keep the hummingbirds around, Swab believes that the placement of each feeder is important, too.

“My feeders are right along the tree line. We’ve got a swimming pool, and on the back side of the pool is our fence, and that’s where the feeders are — attached to the fence. That seems to be ideal for them because they can sit in the trees and then go eat. They just go back and forth all the time,” said Swab.

“I think it’s great that people are really interested in bringing wildlife to their yards — and by learning what they can do to keep that wildlife coming back to our area — I believe everyone benefits from that,” said Balek.