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Hummingbird Feeders

Tips for choosing Hummingbird Feeders

There are certain features you should look for.

There are many shapes and sizes to choose from.  Designs such as pie or saucer shaped, tubes and many others.  Some have perches for the little birds to land on.

You can see a good selection of feeders in The Nature Store.

You can make your own hummingbird feeder with a bottle, rubber cork, and the drinking tube from a pet hamster water bottle. Add some red to attract hummingbirds.  Paint the port or use a ribbon.  It is not a good idea to use colored water.

While most feeders will attract birds there are some basic guidelines to follow that will make both you and the Hummingbirds happy. 

Here are some tips.

  • Probably the most important design feature to look for is ease of disassembly and cleaning.  The larger ones are easier to clean.  A dishrag, a small bottle brush such as an old toothbrush will work. Pipe cleaners are also good for cleaning.  There are special brushes sold for cleaning hummingbird feeder ports.
    Wash your hummingbird feeders thoroughly with hot, soapy water, and rinse completely, every time you refill them.  Keep a eye out for molds.
  • Perches are great.  Hummingbirds use a tremendous amount of energy hovering and prefer to sit when they feed if they are able to do so.
  • Red is the most attractive color to hummingbirds.  You are better off not coloring the sugar water.
  • Ants love sugar so look for built in ant moats.  You can also get add-on ant moats.
  • bees and wasps are also pests that love nectar.  Bee guards will help.  The most attractive color to bees and wasps is yellow.  Some shapes such as saucer feeders will discourage bees.

    Smear a bit of petroleum jelly around the feeder port to discourage both ants and bees.
  • Rain guards help if you get a hummingbird feeder with feeding ports located on top of the solution reservoir.  Rain will dilute and possibly contaminate the mixture.  You can also get rain guards to hang on your feeder.
  • Saucer feeders are better than bottle feeders in direct sunlight.  Bottle feeders will leak as they warm up.  The sun will cause the sugar solution to spoil rapidly.

Where to Put Hummingbird Feeders

Place your feeders where Hummingbirds are most likely to see them such as, near flowers.  Flowers offer the birds energy in exchange for pollination.  Feeders make a good substitute.  They also eat insects and spiders for protein.

After they get in the habit of visiting you can move it closer to a window if you want.  This not only lets you watch the birds but you can see when the sugar is low.

If you have a garden area with flowers Hummingbirds like, that is a good place. 

Once hummingbirds discover where a  feeder is, the birds will keep coming back daily even bringing their young. They will return year after year to the same feeders.  During migration the traffic can increase.

Many people like to put them by a window so they can watch.  You can get window feeders that attach to the window.

If your feeder is within 15 feet of a window move it so it is only a few inches away. Windows are dangerous because the birds will fly into them.  They are less likely to if the feeder is either farther than 15 feet or just a few inches from the window.

Hummingbirds are more likely to visit your feeders if there is cover close by.  They spend a great deal of time perched in trees or bushes where they are protected.  They prefer to fly only a short distance food.

A shady spot keeps feeders cool and reduces spoilage.  On the other hand the Hummingbirds colors come out in sunlight.  The answer is a compromise.  Try to a place where the feeder is in shade for a good part of the day.

Sometimes a single Hummingbird will dominate a feeder so spreading several around is a good idea.

Sugar solution

The standard recipe for sugar water is 1 part white sugar for 4 parts water.  Bring water to a boil over low heat and stir in the sugar.  Boiling kills mold spores, but do not over boil.  Cool the mixture and fill the feeder.  Store sugar water in the refrigerator.

Do not use honey because it spoils easily and has bacteria in it that can cause a fatal fungal tongue disease.

How often do Hummingbirds need to eat?  If you check 5 websites or read 5 books you will get 5 different answers to this.  So here is mine.  Hummingbirds need to eat very frequently because they use a lot of energy flying.

For information on feeders for other birds visit Bird Feeders.  For information on food and feeding for other birds Food - Feeding.  For more about Hummingbirds or to hear their song and wing sound.

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