Why Do Hummingbirds Like Red Flowers? – The Red Allure of Hummingbirds

It has been a long-standing mystery why these birds are particularly drawn to red blooms. Hummingbirds are attracted to red flowers for several reasons, primarily because red is obvious.

Red flowers stand out vividly against the green foliage, making them easily noticeable to these birds. Hummingbirds have excellent color vision, and they are susceptible to the color red. They can perceive a wide range of colors, including ultraviolet light, which is invisible to humans.

Why Do Hummingbirds Choose Red Flowers?

Hummingbirds are known for their affinity for red flowers, and there are several reasons why this preference exists:

Attracted To The Color Red

The hue of red appears to have a naturally appealing quality to birds, which explains why many bird feeders and hummingbird food products tend to incorporate it.

This particular shade is known to be stimulating, and thus its utilization in this context can be beneficial in attracting birds to feeders and food. The shape and texture of the food itself can also be a factor in attracting hummingbirds.

Red Color Provides A Visual Cue

Hummingbirds have an extraordinary ability to detect ultraviolet light and keen vision that allows them to pick out the color red easily. This has led many to question why hummingbird food is often colored red.

Researchers believe that the vibrant red hue helps draw hummingbirds to the flowers, as it is the most visible in the bird’s range of vision. The red color serves as a visual cue for the birds, allowing them to quickly differentiate the food from its environment.

Nectar Availability

Flowers with a red hue often produce large amounts of nectar, serving as hummingbirds’ primary food source. The color acts as a visual signal to indicate a high concentration of nectar, guiding the birds toward a rewarding food source.

Attraction to Specific Pollinators

Red flowers have evolved to attract hummingbirds as their preferred pollinators. This preference benefits both the flowers and the hummingbirds. The flowers get pollinated, and the hummingbirds obtain a reliable food source.

Flower Shape

While color is a significant factor, hummingbirds also consider the shape and structure of flowers. Red flowers that have tubular shapes are particularly well-suited to hummingbirds.

Their long, slender bills can easily reach the nectar hidden deep within the flower’s structure. Examples of such flowers include trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).

Sign Of Ripeness Or Quality

It is widely accepted that red is the most attractive hue for hummingbirds, as the coloration implies a high degree of ripeness in the food. Like many other birds, Hummingbirds prefer ripe fruits and flowers over unripe ones, as the vivid red coloration is more likely to draw their attention.

Non-Toxic To Hummingbirds

Hummingbird food has been found to display a red hue often. Curiosity has been raised as to the reason behind this. It has been determined that the red food coloring used to make hummingbird food is non-toxic to these delicate creatures.

Research has further revealed that the color does not adversely affect the birds. It is thought to benefit them. This is believed to be due to the presence of antioxidants, which support the health and vitality of the hummingbird.

Containing Sucrose

The vivid red hue of hummingbird nourishment is frequently derived from sucrose. This naturally occurring sugar, found in plants, is a primary energy source for hummingbirds. Its brightness is particularly appealing to them, as it can be easily recognized and a source of attraction from a distance away.

Is the Use of Red Food Coloring in Hummingbird Food Advisable?

Using red food coloring in hummingbird food has been an ongoing discussion for years. Proponents of adding red dye to the food argue that it may attract more hummingbirds to the feeders.

However, others are concerned that the dye could be detrimental and unnecessary to the birds, considering hummingbirds are naturally drawn to the sweet taste. To decide if red food coloring is beneficial in hummingbird food, evaluating both perspectives of the argument is important.

Studies have yet to prove that red food dye can attract hummingbirds to feeders. This raises the fear that the red dye might harm the birds. On the contrary, some believe that the addition of red color to the food can help bring in more hummingbirds.

Due to this ambiguity, it is necessary to assess the potential effects of red food dye on hummingbird food.

Dietary Habits of Hummingbirds

They have specific dietary habits requiring various foods to maintain their health. One of a hummingbird’s most important components is consuming “red-colored” foods, such as nectar, insects, and small berries.

The rich, red pigment of these foods is essential for the birds to absorb the nutrients from their diet. Nectar, in particular, is a vital energy source for hummingbirds and helps them stay warm in the winter months.

Insects are also an important source of protein for hummingbirds and provide important building blocks for their muscles. Finally, small berries are a great source of vitamins and minerals for hummingbirds.

How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Feeder?

Attracting hummingbirds to your feeder can be a highly rewarding and captivating activity. Hummingbirds provide a unique and vibrant atmosphere to any outdoor environment. To ensure that these delightful birds frequent your yard, here are some effective strategies to consider.

Purchase Red Feeders

Selecting one in a shade of red to draw hummingbirds to your feeder is highly recommended. Hummingbirds are attracted to red, so having a feeder of this color will indicate that food is available. Be sure to acquire a feeder that will restrict the access of other birds, as hummingbirds tend to be quite territorial.

Plant Red Flowers

One of the best ways to do so is to incorporate red flowers into your garden or home landscape. Red is a particularly attractive color for these birds, making them feel welcome in the area. When selecting flowers for your garden, look for varieties that have an extended blooming period and produce a substantial amount of nectar.

Bright Ribbons

Birdwatchers of all ages can enjoy the sight of hummingbirds at their feeder. Consider tying bright ribbons around the pole or limbs close to the feeder to invite these lovely birds. Red and pink ribbons are particularly attractive to hummingbirds, so use these colors to make the feeder more visible.

Tips to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden


Hummingbirds and red flowers have a symbiotic relationship that has developed for many years. The bright hue of the blooms is attractive to the birds, as is the sweet nectar they offer.

Scientific studies have shown that hummingbirds see red more clearly than other colors, which explains why it is so popular among these birds. Nevertheless, different colors like pink, orange, and purple are attractive to them and can provide a source of nectar.

Gardeners and nature lovers should know the connection between hummingbirds and red flowers to invite these lovely creatures to their gardens. Planting red flowers and offering nectar is a simple way to do this, helping to preserve hummingbird populations.


  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC521733/
  • https://eoss.asu.edu/sites/default/files/Factors_that_Attract_Hummingbirds.pdf
  • https://nationalzoo.si.edu/migratory-birds/news/flower-specialist

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