Be Your Own Birder

Hummingbird Swings – The Perfect Perch

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Birds perch everywhere, and knowing their favorite perches can be a great opportunity to watch birds closely, study them for identification, or snap an amazing photo. I particularly enjoy watching pelicans perch on buoys, raptors perch on roadside poles, and the neighborhood eastern kingbird that perches on one particular wire over the road, which gives great views (for both me and the bird). But some of the best perches of all are those favored by hummingbirds.

Thin Perches Are Just Fine - Rufous Hummingbird - Photo by William Garrett
Thin Perches Are Just Fine – Rufous Hummingbird – Photo by William Garrett

Where My Hummingbirds Perch

Despite their tiny size – or because of it – hummingbirds can be fiercely territorial. They will jealously guard a prime feeding area, chasing off other birds, including birds many times their size, to protect the plants and feeders they perceive as theirs. In doing so, they often return to the same favored perch – a branch tip, a wire, or any convenient spot that provides a good field of view to watch for interlopers and intruders.

For the ruby-throated hummingbirds in my yard, this typically means perching in our live oak trees, usually at a height of 40-45 feet above the ground, just where the branches have thinned enough to provide superior views for their protective efforts. An interesting side effect of this is that at 40-45 feet away, a ruby-throated hummingbird looks exactly like a live oak leaf in size and shape, and it can be difficult to watch my hummingbirds.

My Warbler Trees - Photo by Melissa Mayntz
Play “Find the Hummingbird” in This Mess – Photo by Melissa Mayntz

Swing Low, Sweet Hummingbird

Providing a convenient perch for hummingbirds can not only meet their guard duty needs, but will give birders an easy spot to safely and comfortably observe these tiny guests. Hummingbird swings can be the perfect answer.

These simple products are simply genius – delicate perches perfectly sized for hummingbirds, but able to be relocated wherever a view is desired. I have a swing hanging from an adjacent hook on the same pole just a few feet from my Hum Sweet Hum hummingbird feeder, and it’s an easy resting perch for any feeding hummingbird. As the birds perch, they can keep a keen eye on the feeder, and often go back for multiple sips.

Hummingbird swings are typically just a few inches tall and wide, large enough so the birds feel comfortable taking off and landing, but not so large as to be clumsy to hang. They’re lightweight, and often decorated with bits of red to catch hummingbirds’ eyes. Beading, red paint accents, or floral shapes can not only give hummingbird swings great aesthetics, but will easily attract the attention of these curious birds.

Costa's Hummingbird on HIS Swing - Photo by Joan Gellatly
Costa’s Hummingbird on HIS Swing – Photo by Joan Gellatly

The Best Hummingbird Swings

There are many beautiful hummingbird swings available for purchase. Each one is a suitable size for a perched hummingbird, and includes an easy hanger or loop for hanging. Try these perfect hummingbird perches…

Songbird Essentials Swing
Songbird Essentials Swing

Making Your Own Swings

If you can’t quite find a design you like, it’s easy to make a hummingbird swing. You will need…

  • Copper wire – suitably stiff to hold its shape, 16-18 inches long
  • Thinner wire – for decoration, if desired
  • Perch material – wooden dowel, raw pencil, or a bit of branch
  • Decorative accents – beads or crystals work best
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Sandpaper
Beads for Decorating a Hummingbird Perch - Photo by PRECIOSA ORNELA
Beads for Decorating a Hummingbird Perch – Photo by PRECIOSA ORNELA

First, trim your perch to the desired length. The perch should be relatively straight, and from 4-6 inches long. Too short will not give hummingbirds adequate room to perch, while a longer perch will invite heavier birds to use the swing (which can be fine too!).

Wrap one end of the stiff copper wire around one end of the perch, curling the wire 2-3 times so it is securely fastened. Curve the wire up and around to form the perch frame, then wrap the other end around the opposite end of the perch to complete the swing. As you form the frame, consider adding curves or loops, including a hanging loop at the top center of the frame.

Wrap the thinner wire around the perch or frame for decoration, if desired. If you did not leave a hanging loop as you formed the frame, add one with the thinner wire. You can also string beads or hang crystals from this thinner wire, and the extra color will catch hummingbirds’ attention. You can also dangle decorative accents below the perch.

Use the sandpaper to file down any rough edges of the wire so there are no sharp pieces that could be dangerous. Your perch is finished – hang it near your feeders and enjoy the hummingbirds that make use of this perfect vantage point!

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