Discover 5 Colors That Hummingbirds Are Attracted To

Written by Tiffany Kozakevitch
Published: October 13, 2023
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Hummingbirds are small birds that love eating nectar. Since they have a poor sense of smell, hummingbirds rely on their eyes to find flowers that contain this sweet substance. If you see hummingbirds in a garden or open woodlands, tubular flowers with bright, warm colors are more likely to draw their attention. In this article, we will highlight five colors to which hummingbirds are attracted, giving insight into which flowers they prefer when gathering nectar.

Hummingbird’s Color Vision

Rocky Mountain Ruby-Throated Hummingbird sitting on a branch.

Hummingbirds’ eyes can see ultraviolet light, unlike humans.

©CounselorB/Shutterstock.com

Like most birds, hummingbirds have peripheral vision that helps them search for nectar-rich flowers when flying at high speeds. While humans have three retinal cones that let them see blue, green, and red light, hummingbirds have a fourth retinal cone that lets them detect ultraviolet light. According to a study done at Princeton University, hummingbirds can see colors that humans cannot, including at least five non-spectral colors. In comparison, the only non-spectral color that humans can see is purple.

1. Red

Two birds with red flower bloom. Hummingbird Brown Violet-ear, Colibri delphinae, birds flying next to beautiful violet bloom, nice flowered green background.

Red flowers are a favorite food source for many hummingbird species because they produce sweet nectar.

©Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock.com

One of the most well-known colors that hummingbirds are attracted to is red. Hummingbirds associate red with nectar-rich flowers that contain the highest sugar content. According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, hummingbirds prefer sugary nectar that isn’t too sticky to draw from flowers. Some red flowers that attract hummingbirds include scarlet bee balm, red buckeye, and scarlet sage.

2. Orange

Green Hermit Hummingbird

The densely concentrated cones in a hummingbird’s eyes enhance orange flowers’ warm, vibrant hues.

©Jiri Hrebicek/Shutterstock.com

Since hummingbirds can see ultraviolet light, orange flowers appear more colorful. Like red flowers, several orange flowers are a rich source of nectar. Orange attracts hummingbirds to certain flowers because it’s the closest to red on the color spectrum. Some orange flowers that attract hummingbirds include nasturtiums, trumpet hearts, and daylilies.

3. Pink

Two hummingbirds with pink flower. Fiery-throated Hummingbirds, flying next to beautiful bloom flower, Savegre, Costa Rica. Action wildlife scene from nature.

Hummingbirds prefer getting nectar from pink flowers because the brightest ones have similar hues to red flowers.

©Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock.com

Pink is another color that hummingbirds enjoy getting nectar from. Pink flowers are easy for hummingbirds to spot from a distance because of their brightness. Hummingbirds have excellent memories and can remember the locations of many nectar-rich annuals and perennials when migrating and how long those flowers take to replenish nectar. Mandevilla, azaleas, and zinnias are common pink flowers you can plant to attract hummingbirds.

4. Yellow

A female Blue-chinned Sapphire hummingbird feeding on a yellow Ixora hedge.

Yellow flowers attract hummingbirds because of their abundance of nectar and warm hues.

©Chelsea Sampson/Shutterstock.com

Like other warm colors that hummingbirds are attracted to, yellow flowers are highly visible to hummingbirds. Competition for nectar between bees and other pollinating insects is why hummingbirds prefer looking for nectar from red flowers over yellow ones. Yellow flowers that attract hummingbirds include seep monkeyflowers and canary creeper vines.

5. Purple

Costas hummingbird in flight, sucking nectar from flower

Most hummingbirds prefer drinking nectar from flowers with warmer colors over cooler ones.

©iStock.com/kojihirano

Although purple appears more muted to hummingbirds’ eyes than red or orange flowers, some hummingbirds will drink nectar from purple flowers if they deem the flowers a reliable nectar source. Purple flowers that attract hummingbirds include foxgloves and morning glories.

Summary of the 5 Colors That Hummingbirds Are Attracted To

RankColorWavelengthReason for Attraction
1Red650nmHigh wavelength, easy to spot, indicates flowers containing nectar with high sugar content.
2Orange600nmHigh wavelength, easy to spot and distinguish from muted colors.
3PinkNo wavelength, non-spectral color.Easy to spot, bright, warm color indicates a potential nectar-rich source.
4Yellow570-580nmWarm color hue, easy to spot.
5Purple380-450nmSome hummingbirds might show preference if the flowers contain a lot of nectar.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Chris Alcock/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Tiffany Kozakevitch is a freelance writer who has dabbled in a vast array of nature-related topics, including plants and pet care. She has always had a soft spot for animals, from wildlife to pets, and volunteered at a non-profit cat rescue to promote pet adoptions. Tiffany uses her free time drawing on her tablet. Her two cats, Smoky and Sassy, motivate her to overcome new challenges and seize the day.

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