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Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden

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Most garden enthusiasts have spent a considerable amount of time preparing their garden oasis. Many hours can be spent pruning, planting, weeding, and watering a masterpiece of a garden. To a true gardener, this is pleasureful not tasking. By planting the right plants, you can attract desired birds to your garden such as the hummingbird.

Hummingbirds are among the smallest of all birds and are named because of the humming sound their wings make when they fly. Their wings can flap up to 50 times per second while they are simply hovering and their total weight is less than 2.5 g. They are extremely fast and typically are brightly coloured. They would be a welcome addition to almost any garden!

How to Attract Hummingbirds

To attract hummingbirds you need to provide them with plants they can drink the nectar from. They love brightly coloured plants such as petunias, fuschias and verbenas which are all annuals and need to be planted each year. They are certain to brighten up your garden and be attractive not only to a hummingbird but to anyone who is lucky enough to spend time in your garden.

If you wish to plant perennials in order to attract hummingbirds there is a wide selection of possibilities. Achillea makes a beautiful addition to any garden with it’s stunning colours of white, yellow, orange, pink or red. The daylily is always a beautiful addition to any garden and is likely to attract hummingbirds due to the large opening in the flower for nectar extraction. You may also want to plant catmint in your garden to attract the hummingbird.

Shrubs, trees, and vines may also be used to get hummingbirds to your garden, although the planting and growing of these plants may take a longer time than annuals or perennials. But they are sucessful in getting hummingbirds into their midst! Ones to try would be a butterfly bush shrub, a black locust tree or a trumpet vine.

Click here for a detailed list of plants that can be used to attract hummingbirds to your garden.

You can also hang hummingbird feeders and put one part white sugar to four parts water in the feeder. The hummingbirds will be attracted to the brightly coloured feeder and be drawn by the sweet sugar water smell. Be sure to clean the feeder regularly so other insects do not succumb to the sweet fragrance allure and drown in the sugar water.

Want to learn more about attracting hummingbirds and other birds to your garden? One of our expert staff at one of our conveniently located Ottawa garden stores would be happy to help.

Make Your Garden Bird-Friendly

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The beauty of your garden does more than attract the attention of passersby…a lush, vibrant garden is also a welcome landing site for birds flying overhead. Birds have an eye for life and beauty and can spot it from high above. There are many simple things you can do to help attract cardinals, chickadees, robins, and bluebirds to your home garden. The main priorities are food, shelter, and water. Provide these three necessities and watch your garden come alive with nature’s phenomenon.

Step 1: Shelter

The trees, plants, and shrubs that you choose for your garden should be welcoming to local birds. Each bird species will have different habitat requirements for shelter and nesting. For this reason, it is important to balance both your personal preference for appearance, height, colour, and species variety, while also providing an attractive perch for birds. Here are a few popular options for nesting:

Red Maple
Sugar Maple

White Cedar

Spirea (large leaf)
Alpine Currant

If you want to attract a variety of bird species, then you’ll want to choose trees, shrubs, and hedges with different heights and flowering times. Make your garden safe and attractive for birds by:

• Planting in tight groupings will give birds a safer, more comfortable perch. For the best landscaped look, we recommend planting in odd numbers – groups of 3 or 5.
• Varying the height of plants will attract a wider variety of birds, as mentioned above. For example chickadees love low thickets, while bluebirds prefer lone trees surrounded by wide open spaces.
• Doing your best to keep pets (aka predators) at bay will attract birds rather than having them find a safer landing zone. Keep indoor pets indoors and use safe repellants to drive away animals – simply spraying water from a cold hose should work.
• In addition to bird-friendly trees and plants, make the entire area hospitable. For example, check to make sure there is no sneaky spot for predators to hide near feeding stations.

Step 2: Food

A bird will be attracted by shelter, but they’ll stay for food. In addition to bird feeders and suet feeders, which you can purchase at your nearest Ritchie Feed & Seed garden centre, many plant varieties work well for feeding birds. For example sparrows love birch seeds, purple finches can’t get enough of elm seeds, and blue jays enjoy oak acorns. Berries, seeds, and nectar are also favourite food choices for many varieties of birds. Speak with our gardening experts in Eastern Ontario, and they’d be happy to recommend many examples to attract your favourite bird species.

Step 3: Water

Water is not just important for helping your garden thrive – it’s vital for attracting birds. Don’t forget, water is important in the winter months, too!
We recommend building a pond to give birds a place to drink and wash up – plus it adds a peaceful, natural element to your backyard. Add a rushing water element and birds will flock from all over. Shop at our garden centre for all your pond accessories, including air pumps, heaters, and mag-drive water pumps to keep the pond useable in the winter.
The most popular choice is a birdbath. Though there are some concerns about harbouring viruses, so take special care to empty it on a daily basis. With proper care, there will be minimal risk and the birds will get to enjoy fresh water.

Visit Ritchie Feed & Seed to talk to our gardening experts for more advice on how to design a bird-friendly garden!

A Beginner’s Guide to Birding

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One of the most exciting, interesting, and informative hobbies you could ever get into is the amazing world of birding.

With more than 10,000 different species of birds all around the world, each and every one of them unique, you’ll never have to worry about this hobby running stale. If you want an example of how far this passion can go, in 2015 legendary birder Noah Stryker travelled the world and spotted 6,042 of a possible 10,400 bird species! You may not break Noah’s record, but anyone can get started with ease.

Here are just a couple of things you’ll want to pick up as well as a couple of things you’ll want to keep in mind.

Get your hands on a quality set of glass

Even though some of the most experienced birders in the world are able to accurately identify birds from nothing more than a quick flash of colour and their song, the very best birders in the world have the very best binoculars.

Top-quality glass is going to give you the opportunity to see every little detail of these birds while you’re out in the wild in a way that cheapo binoculars never can. Make sure that you invest in a quality set of binoculars, or you’ll regret it while everyone else is enjoying the wildlife in high definition and you’re stuck looking at a fuzzy picture!

You’ll want to be sure you have a local field guide

It’s also going to be critically important that you have a local field guide that describes all of the different birds in your local area.
Interactive field guides that you can pull up on your smartphone are some of the most impressive, as you’ll be able to not only read more about these birds but you’ll also be able to look at high-definition pictures, video, and even listen to their song.

Think about joining a group of birders

Groups of birders exist in just about every single community around the world, so you’ll always have the opportunity to find yourself a group of like-minded individuals that wish to learn more about the birds in their area.
Don’t be shy about seeking these individuals out and organizing trips together!

Don’t forget photographs!

Finally, you’ll want to consider taking up a couple of photography classes (specifically wildlife photography classes) so that you can capture those special moments out in the woods for others to enjoy as well. It’s one thing to see these animals through the lens of your binoculars, but it’s something else entirely to be able to freeze that moment in time forever.

At Ritchie Feed & Seed, we understand the passion of birding. That’s why our garden store carries Ottawa’s largest selection of bird feeders to attract bird species native to the area like woodpeckers, chickadees, blue jays, purple finches, sparrows, and more.

Birds in your garden


Birds in Your Garden


What attracts birds to your garden?  There are several factors that will make a garden attractive to birds.  These factors are the availability of shelter, food and water.  If you want to attract birds to your garden, it is best to cater to all of these factors the best you can.



For birds there are several ways to provide shelter, and different birds will have different needs for their shelter and nesting.  When you are developing your garden plan it is important to look at the plants that will give the most to the birds and still fit with what you will enjoy as well. 

Look at height and flowering time so that you get a variety of attractions. 

Some of the options for plants for nesting include:


Trees                            Shrubs                          Hedges

Birch                            Viburnums                    Spirea (large leaf)

Hackberry                    White Cedar               Winterberry

Hawthorns                    Dogwoods                   Cotoneaster

Red Maple                   Elder                            Alpine Currant

Sugar Maple                 Sorbaria                      Cedar

Oaks                            Serviceberry

Pine                              Sandcherry

Spruce                         Lilac





When you are planting your bird friendly gardens you should ensure safety and attraction by:

            Plant plants in groupings so that the plants are tighter, giving birds a better level of safety and protection.  Generally they look best if you plant them in odd numbers, 3’s and 5’s, etc.

            Vary the height of the plantings that you have.  Different birds will nest in different types of trees and shrubs and of different heights, so include various heights in your design to allow for a wide variety of birds to live there.

            Maintain control over predators as best as possible.  This would include keeping indoor pets indoors, and discouraging other’s pets from staying around your bird feeders, and their habitat.  There are several repellents that can be used that will help in doing this, as well as discouraging them with cold water from a hose when you can.

            Ensure that the area you plan for your birds is friendly for your birds, such as not having a place for predators to hide near their feeding stations, and that windows have a reflective strip of some sort to prevent window kills.



An obvious part of your bird garden is food for the birds.  This would not only include bird feeders and suet feeders, but also plants that will give the best results for the birds needs as well.

When planting for feeding birds there are several plant varieties that work well.  They are:



Birch (Seeds)                          Common Elder (Fruit)  Elm (Seeds)

Yellow bellied Sapsucker            Eastern Kingbird                       Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Chickadee                                Eastern Phoebe             Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Sparrow                                   Swainson’s Thrush                  Yellow-rumped Warbler

Common Redpoll                        American Robin                       Purple Finch

Pine Siskin                                Cowbird                                  American Goldfinch


Hackberry (Fruit)              Hawthorn (Fruit)                   Red Maple (Seeds, Buds & Flower)

American Robin               Cedar Waxwing                      Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Cedar Waxwing                      Pine Grosbeak                                 Red-breasted Nuthatch

Evening Grosbeak                     American Robin                       Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Eastern Phoebe                                                                        Pine Grosbeak

American Crow                                                               Evening Grosbeak

Eastern Bluebird                      

Northern Cardinal                      


Pines (Seeds)                          Serviceberry (Fruit)              Sugar Maple (Seeds, Buds & Flowers)

Mourning Doves                          American Crow                       Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Northern Flicker              Chickadee                               Red-breasted Nuthatch

Chickadee                                American Robin                       Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Red-breasted Nuthatch            Eastern Bluebird                       Pine Grosbeak

White-breasted Nuthatch            Brown Thrasher                       Evening Grosbeak

Dark-eyed Junco               Scarlet Tanager

House Finch                             Northern Cardinal

White-winged Crossbill            Rose-breasted Grosbeak         Oak (Acorns)

Pine Siskin                                Baltimore Oriole                       Blue Jay

American Goldfinch                                                                      White-breasted Nuthatch

Evening Grosbeak                                                                     Common Grackle




Serviceberry (Fruit)              Dogwood (fruit)                      Viburnums (fruit)

-See Tree Section Above            Eastern Kingbird                       Evening Grosbeak

            Red-eyed Vireo                        Cedar Waxwing

                                                Warbling Vireo                         Northern Cardinal

                                                Eastern Bluebird                       American Robin

                                                Hermit Thrush             Hermit Thrush 

                                                Wood Thrush

                                                American Robin

                                                Cedar Waxwing

                                                Northern Cardinal

                                                Evening Grosbeak

                                                Pine Grosbeak


Other plants that are excellent for birds would include


Fruit                                        Seeds                                      Nectar

Flowering Raspberry                    Goldenrod                               Monarda

Staghorn Sumac              Evening Primrose                       Butterfly Weed

Bittersweet                               Panicum                                 Butterfly Bush

Virginia Creeper                        Sunflower                              Weigela

Grape                                       Wild strawberry                    Phlox

Strawberry                               Shasta Daisy                            Impatiens

Blackberry                               Rudbeckia                                Petunias                      

Gooseberry                              Aster                                        Calendula

Saskatoon Berry                Miscanthus                               Portulaca

Snowberry                               Reed Grass                           Honeysuckle

Firethorn                                  Coreopsis                                Marigolds

Oregon Grape Holly                Columbines                              Columbines

Currant                                                                         Agastach

Blueberry                                                                                 Aquilegia

Cotoneaster                                                                              Digitalis

Elder                                                                                        Salvia

Juniper                                                                                     Verbascum



The least provided, and the most needed, water is the best un-kept secret about bird gardening.  Most people know that water is excellent for attracting birds, yet it often goes undone, especially in the winter.

There are several ways to incorporate water into your garden. 


Ponds.  By building a pond, be it large or small, you allow for birds to have a haven to wash in and drink from, and it approximates nature and makes them feel at home.  With the running water of a waterfall, or an ornament, birds can tell from a long distance that there is water there for them and they will come and enjoy.  Be sure to allow for a place for them to stand and wash in.  Put various levels, and rocks for them to access the water with, and ideally, a very shallow part somewhere for them as well.  A pond can be kept open and useable


throughout most of the winter through the use of air pumps; heaters and mag drive water pumps.  Birds can continue to utilize the pond as a water source up to the coldest days of the year. 


Birdbaths.  The most used source of water for birds, birdbaths have become less popular with the west nile virus.  It is important if you are going to keep a birdbath to empty and refill it daily.  This is a good practice regardless of the west nile virus because you should keep the water fresh for the birds at all times.  In the winter it is tricky to maintain a water source, but with the use of a birdbath heater it is easier than before.  The trick is to never neglect the birdbath and continue to maintain the birds’ habitat for them.

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