Posted in Birds, Park visit

Hand-feeding Hummingbirds at Lake Hope

The Nature Center at Lake Hope State Park is well-known as the place to go if you want to try hand-feeding hummingbirds. This seasonal activity typically begins in July. This year park officials will continue to host the hand-feeding sessions on Thursday through Sunday from 1 to 3 PM until Labor Day.

This was the first time Bob and I had tried hand-feeding hummingbirds, and we both loved it. It is fascinating to watch hummingbirds perform their aerial acrobatics, but it was even more amazing to have these wild, little creatures come right up to us to accept our offerings of nectar. We could feel the wind from their rapid wing beats on our hands.

There was some competition for nectar.

Bob and I each got a feeding tube for the hummingbirds, but we ended up taking turns so that one of us held the feeding tubes while the other took photographs.

All I can say is “wow!”
Deb feeding a hummingbird
Deb feeding another hummingbird
Bob giving it a try
This woman did her nails in the hummingbird’s beloved color, red.

The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only hummingbird that nests in our state. Surprisingly every single hummingbird that we photographed was a female.

In addition to photographing the hummingbirds, we also took a video of them as they fed from my hands. Since two females are jostling for position, you can watch as they attempt to chase each other away. You can also hear the hummingbirds vocalizing.

Direct link to video:

Hints for Feeding the Birds

The environment around the Nature Center has been made as enticing to hummingbirds as possible. There are both flowers and hummingbird feeders all over the place. Then during the prescribed time the center’s naturalist takes down all the hummingbird feeders and hands out nectar-filled tubes to park visitors.

One of many feeders around the Nature Center

The naturalist said that visitors had the better success in feeding the hummingbirds when they sat near the building. In addition she recommended that we hold the feeding tubes in the sunlight rather than in the shade because the bright light accentuated the red color of the pipe cleaners that are wrapped around the tubes. We arranged our chairs so that we were sitting in the shade of the building while our hands were in the sun.

Some people hold their feeding tubes up toward the sky in an attempt to entice the birds. The problem in doing this is that your arm soon becomes tired. Because these are wild creatures it is important to not fidget a lot, or you will scare them away. We had a lot of success in just resting our arms against our legs, so we could stay still for a longish time.

We did sit there for what seemed like a long time before hummingbirds started coming over to us, but it was well worth the wait. There were a number of children participating in the hand-feeding, and I think this could be a lot of fun for a child. The only catch is that your child has to stay still and be patient until a hummingbird decides to come over, and this may be hard for some kids to do. It might help if you let your child know what to expect before hand.

We held our feeding tubes with the ends tilted away from us. This may have made approaching the feeding tubes less intimidating, but it also brought the liquid inside closer to the opening, making it easier for the bird to reach the nectar.

Visitors have the option of making a small donation to support the Nature Center inside the building.

Additional information


The Nature Center is located at the arrow in the map below. Take 278 and turn on to Furnace Ridge Road. Before you come to the Nature Center, there is a gravel parking lot on the right-hand side of the road. The Nature Center is a short walk north from here on the left-hand side of the road.

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© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

12 thoughts on “Hand-feeding Hummingbirds at Lake Hope

  1. I’ve read all about this place before. So glad to see it here on your blog. There is nothing like having these little creatures feed from your hand and light on your finger. Thanks for this lovely post.

  2. We live about 3 miles “the way the crow flies” from Lake Hope. Regularly we have about 30 or so hummers who come daily to our three feeders. We refill the feeders daily and sometimes even more often. Mom said when she was alive that whenever the hummers emptied a feeder they would peck on the windows to let her know the feeders were empty. While not having that experience, I do get close “flyby’s” regularly when the feeders are empty or nearly so. They are a daily highlight. They also predict rain as they fill every hole in the feeders and several more hover around waiting an open spot.

    1. That’s incredible! Do you also garden in a way that attracts hummingbirds, or is it just the feeders that’s bringing them in?

      I tried putting a feed out in my yard a few summers ago, and I only saw one hummingbird on one occasion. Because the syrup can go bad if it’s not consumed, I kept going out and replacing it. After a while I go discouraged and gave up on it. 🙁

      I have had much better success with seed-eating birds, and wrote about one goldfinch who seemed to be doing a bit of people-watching here:

      1. Deb: We do have a large garden but just the normal stuff, no real attractors planted. However, I do hang several baskets near the feeders. They like petunias, moss rose, calibrocha, begonia, and just about anything that might have a showy bloom. They are even attracted to white blossoms. I have seen them feeding on the hosta and visiting the daylilies. Mom had them well trained.

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