University of Maryland Extension

FAQ's - Wildlife/Attracting

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What would be the best way for me to attract hummingbirds to my yard this summer? 

We moved into a senior garden apartment complex this winter and are not allowed to put out bird feeders.  Our apartment is on the first floor and I have an area out back where I can plant flowers or some shrubs. Would you have any suggestions of something I can plant to attract birds?

I am seeking a suggestion for a native vine/climber with wildlife value to grow on my townhouse fence. The exposure is part sun and with mature trees overhead. Attractive flowers and/or berries would be great.

Do you think putting up a bat box would attract bats to my yard?

What can I do to make my yard more attractive to turtles, frogs and toads?

What would be the best way for me to attract hummingbirds to my yard this summer?

The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only hummingbird species found in Maryland. Their diet consists of small insects, spiders, tree sap, and nectar. Plant a variety of trees, shrubs, vines, and flowers that bloom from mid-April throughout the summer season to lure hummers. They like orange, red, and pink tubular flowers. Nectar sources include: azaleas, coralberry, rose of Sharon, bee balm, columbine, cardinal flower, trumpet creeper, and tulip poplar. Set up a nectar feeder to supplement the hummingbird’s natural diet. Place your feeder in a shady spot to prevent spoiling of the nectar on hot summer days. To make nectar add one part sugar to four parts boiling water, stir and let cool. Do not add red food coloring. Change the nectar every 3-4 days during the summer. Spoiled liquids can harm hummers. Clean feeders before refilling.

We moved into a senior garden apartment complex this winter and are not allowed to put out bird feeders.  Our apartment is on the first floor and I have an area out back where I can plant flowers or some shrubs. Would you have any suggestions of something I can plant to attract the birds?

A water source really attracts birds to a landscape. Are you allowed to put up a bird bath? It does not have to be large or fancy. A large saucer (you can even use one that is made to be placed under a container) placed on the ground would work. Keep it filled with fresh water. Change the water on a regular basis in the summer to prevent mosquitoes. Some perennials that attract birds are Coreopsis, Liatris spicata (gayflower), Echinacea (coneflower) and Rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan). It is best to plant a group of three or more. Birds love to feed on the berries of many shrubs. Some examples include, American cranberry viburnum, winterberry holly (you need a male and a female plant to produce berries), chokeberry, and blueberries which need well-drained, acidic soil.

I am seeking a suggestion for a native vine/climber with wildlife value to grow on my townhouse fence. The exposure is part sun and with mature trees overhead. Attractive flowers and/or berries would be great.

For flowers, try trumpet vine, virgins bower (Clematis virginiana), or trumpet honeysuckle. (No non-native honeysuckles, which are invasive.)  Trumpet vine and Virginia Creeper are vigorous woody plants, which will require pruning to keep them in bounds.  The shade tolerant Virginia Creeper features berries and bright pinkish-red fall color.

 Do you think putting up a bat box would attract bats to my yard?

Yes, bat boxes do work. Bats eat many different insect pests including mosquitoes. Bats prefer open areas and nearby watersource such as a pond, river, stream, even pools. For more information on a bat habitat and instructions for building a bat house, see (PDF) FS 791, “Got Bugs? Get Bats!” and "Bat Boxes".

What can I do to make my yard more attractive to turtles, frogs and toads?

Please see our article titled "Create a Herp Friendly Landscape".  What is a herp you might ask? The word herp is an abbreviation for herptile. Herptiles is a group that collectively contains reptiles and amphibians.

Please send us a question at Ask the Experts if you have a question on attracting wildlife to your landscape. Digitial photos can be attached to your question.

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