Birds can be great for a yard. Not only do they add beauty and entertainment, but birds like hummingbirds and orioles can pollinate flowers. So, consider using certain colored flowers, birdhouses, and feeders to attract these wonderful birds to your property.
What Colors Can Birds See?
Many animals can’t see as many colors as humans, but birds (and a few other animals) are an exception. Most birds can see more colors than humans. Humans have three photoreceptors, but birds can have up to five, depending on the species.
The main difference is that birds can see ultraviolet light, which isn’t detectable by the human eye. Scientists also believe that birds can see color in more varieties and intensities than humans can.
There are a few reasons birds see colors so vividly:
- Seeing the colors of potential mates (vibrant colors means a healthy bird)
- Avoiding warning colors on plants and other animals
- Locating desired food, such as ripe fruit and flowers with nectar
- Determining when to migrate (based on the seasonal color changes)
Thus, colors are very important in a bird’s life, so animal lovers can use colors to their advantage to attract certain birds.
What Colors Are Birds Attracted To?
Since birds can see more colors than other animals like mammals, colors matter when decorating your yard. Choosing certain colors for your plants and bird feeders can appeal to specific types of birds. Most birds like colors that are the same as the foods they eat or the colors of their feathers, so keep that in mind when painting your bird feeder.
Most birds aren’t picky, but they may be more likely to approach your feeder over a neighbor’s if it’s an appealing color. Certain colored flowers and birdhouses may also appeal to them. So, what colors will attract birds?
Red and Pink
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Siskins
Plant Options: Hibiscus, Bee balm, Petunia, Peony, Coral Bell, Zinnia, Pentas
Red is a color that stands out in nature, so some birds are drawn to it. Hummingbirds are the most likely to approach a red feeder if it has nectar. To hummingbirds, red is a sign that something is rich in food and nutrients. Researchers also found that siskins like to gather near red feeders, especially if they’re offering peanuts.
However, other species may avoid red feeders if there are other options. Birds tend to prefer the colors on the visible spectrum that have the most energy, such as violet, blue, and green. Red has the least amount of energy on the spectrum.
While red is difficult for many animals to see, it’s vivid for birds. The main reason some bird species might avoid red is that they see it as a warning color. In that case, you may want to try pink instead because it will still appeal to hummingbirds while being less intimidating to other species.
Orange and Yellow
Attracts: Orioles, Warblers, Hummingbirds, Goldfinches
Plant Options: Bird of Paradise, Buttercup, Marigold, Mexican Sunflower, Sunflower, Calendula, Trumpet Vine
Despite being on the lower side of the visible spectrum, many species like orange objects and yellow things. Some species that enjoy these hues are Baltimore orioles and American goldfinches because they seem to be drawn to things that are the same color as their feathers. Yellow and orange also mimic the colors of some of the plants these birds feed on.
Hummingbirds seem to like orange feeders because they’re close to red. Orioles enjoy orange feeders because they like to eat oranges, and it mimics their feather colors.
Some nocturnal birds are drawn to yellow feeders because yellow is visible when it’s dark out. Planting yellow sunflowers near your feeders and birdhouses can also attract these birds.
Attracts: Bluebirds, Jays, Starlings, Goldfinches
Plant Options: Bluebell, Blue Blossom, Hydrangea, Flax Flowers, Blue-Eyed Grass, Cornflower
Bluebirds and blue jays are also attracted to colors that match their feathers, so blue things may appeal to them. Blue is also a higher-energy color, so a variety of birds may gather near it. Birds especially prefer blue feeders in the summer, and it’s one of the best colors to use year-round.
Attracts: Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Juncos, Hummingbirds
Plant Options: Lobelia, Lavender, Bellflower, Coneflower, Freesia, Mexican Bush Sage, Iris, Lilac, Wisteria
On the visible spectrum, violet has the most energy. It also stands out in nature, so it’s great for attracting a wide variety of birds. Since birds can see ultraviolet light, they may see purple more intensely than humans can, which could be why they like purple objects.
Researchers discovered that when several flowers with similar sugar contents were near each other, hummingbirds favored violet flowers over darker colors. Yet, red and orange still seem to be their favorite.
Attracts: Robins, Goldfinches, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, Thrushes
Plant Options: Agave, Echeveria, Belles-of-Ireland, Dogwood, Elderberry, Sage
Even though they don’t stand out like the other colors listed, earth tones like green, brown, black, and gray may attract certain birds. These colors are especially popular with birds of similar colors because they provide camouflage and give the birds a safe place to feed.
These colors are popular regardless of the season, so they’re the best ones to use year-round if you’re not picky about the species of birds you attract. Several studies have shown that silver is one of the most popular colors year-round.
Are There Any Colors You Should Avoid?
The only color that could keep birds away from your yard is white. Having a little white probably won’t discourage birds, but it won’t attract them. Too much white might even scare them away.
Researchers believe that it’s because there’s a big contrast between a white feeder and the nature around it. Also, some birds have white patches on their wings and tails that they flash at other birds to assert dominance or show aggression. So, they might associate white objects with threats. The only birds that might like white are birds with white feathers.
Birds also aren’t fond of surfaces that are reflective or metallic because they may see movements being reflected in the material, which could scare them off. No matter how much a bird loves a color, if that color has too many sudden movements, it’ll likely startle them.
What Other Factors Attract Birds?
Like most animals, birds are most attracted to places that have their necessary resources: food, water, nesting, and shelter. So, if you provide these items in addition to a color that appeals to them, you’ll have beautiful birds flocking your yard in no time.
The color of the feeder has a big impact on which birds visit your yard, but what’s inside the feeder matters even more. Birds who are attracted to the color won’t stay or come back if they don’t like what’s inside.
For example, hummingbirds will only be attracted to feeders that have nectar. Orioles prefer jelly and fruit. Yet, most other species prefer some type of seed or grain, such as sunflower seeds, corn, or thistle seeds. Research the type of bird you want to attract and then fill your feeder accordingly.
If you’re not picky about what birds visit your property, you can buy a generic seed mix so the birds have a variety of seeds to choose from. Premium seed mixes are usually more appealing than cheap options.
In addition to the feeder, you can also grow plants nearby that birds can feed on. Plants with flowers and berries are the most likely to intrigue birds.
Birds need access to water for two reasons: drinking and preening. Preening is the way birds clean their feathers. So, placing a bird bath near your feeder can help visiting birds fulfill those needs. Bird baths keep birds healthy by keeping their bodies cool inside and outside.
Nesting and Shelter
Providing birdhouses can attract birds because it gives them somewhere to nest, sleep, and hide. If you’re unsure what colors to paint your birdhouse, you can consider which colors attract which types of birds.
Birds are most likely to nest in your birdhouse if they have nesting materials nearby, such as twigs, grass clippings, or animal fur. Don’t remove those items from your yard so the birds can have resources.
Hanging several birdhouses and feeders in your yard can attract more birds without them having to compete for food and shelter. Placing them near bushes and trees will help birds feel more comfortable approaching them.
What Colors Attract Bees and Butterflies?
Insects like bees and butterflies can be beneficial for your garden because they help pollinate the plants. They’re also fascinating to watch. So, here are some tips for colors that attract these critters.
These colors attract butterflies:
These colors attract bees:
Bees and butterflies love vibrant colors because, like birds, they can see more colors than humans. They have four color-receptor cones and they can see ultraviolet light.
Attract Birds to Your Yard
Birds are some of the most beautiful, colorful animals on the planet. Their feathers can be almost any mixture of colors, and they’re often attracted to hues that match their coloring. Birds can be great for the environment, especially the ones that pollinate flowers like hummingbirds.
If you want to attract birds to your yard, you’ll need to give them access to their basic needs and use colors that appeal to them. Keep those aspects in mind when decorating your garden.