Hummingbird Feeder Tips

Hummingbirds are one of nature's most energetic creatures that offer a great source of enjoyment for your outdoor living. Hummingbirds are the only bird that can fly backwards and hover in air for long periods of time. Attracting hummingbirds adds a delightful rush of activity to the life and landscape of your garden.

Level: Easy

Time: 1 Hour

Hummingbirds are one of nature's most energetic creatures that offer a great source of enjoyment for your outdoor living. Hummingbirds are the only bird that can fly backwards and hover in air for long periods of time. Attracting hummingbirds adds a delightful rush of activity to the life and landscape of your garden.

Attracting hummingbirds is also simple and rewarding. Hummingbirds seek water, insects and spiders for protein, and nectar found in flowers and hummingbird feeders for energy. As long as there is a source for nectar available, hummingbirds will find the nectar and continue to return as long as it remains available.

To learn how to entice other birds to your yard, read Attracting Birds to your Bird Feeder.

Nectar is key in the attraction of hummingbirds as they use it for their energy, but it doesn't have to be difficult to make. The only two ingredients needed to make hummingbird nectar are white refined sugar and tap or spring water. Take these two ingredients and follow this easy hummingbird nectar recipe:

  • Measure out four parts water to one part sugar to most naturally simulate nectar
  • Place the water into a pot and mix with sugar
  • Let solution sit for 1-2 minutes, allowing sugar to dissolve
  • Fill feeders and place extra in refrigerator

It is important that you use only tap or spring water in the food mixture as distilled water can harm hummers. Likewise, table sugar is acceptable, whereas brown sugars, artificial sweeteners, honey, molasses, and turbinado can be fatal to hummingbirds. While it has been debated, most experts recommend that you do not use red dye in your hummingbird food recipe.

When offering the hummingbird sugar water through feeders, be sure to keep the nectar fresh. Nectar will usually last 2-4 days in hot weather, and 4-6 days in moderate weather. Watch the level of your nectar and refill when necessary. If the solution begins to mold or becomes cloudy, change the nectar immediately. Cleaning feeders in between fillings also keeps bacteria from forming.

Hummingbirds can be hard to draw into the garden but easy to keep with the right feeder. Take the following into consideration when choosing a hummingbird feeder:

  • Brightly colored feeders are best, red being the most effective
  • Flower feeding ports are often included to attract
  • Feeders with accessories entice birds to land

Keep in mind that hummingbirds are often territorial, especially larger hummers, so offering a few hummingbird feeders is always wise. If you find that your feeder is draining faster than normal, consider adding additional feeders or hanging larger ones.

Hummingbird flowers should be rich in nectar, so plant open throated flowers in red, orange, yellow, or blue. Notable flowers that attract hummers are azaleas, the butterfly bush, honeysuckle, lantanas, and several other bright species of flowers that produce nectar. Because hummingbirds eat twice their weight in nectar every day, flowers may not be enough to sustain a large population of hummers, thus making hummingbird feeders an important part of the garden.

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Brightly Colored Feeder Stakes

Ants and bees will be attracted to the sugar in feeders as well. Adding ant moats and bee guards will make accessing the feeders more difficult for the pests. If bees are a problem for your feeder, add a second feeder with a 1:5 ratio of sugar to water. The bees will choose the feeder with the most sugar and leave your hummingbirds alone at the feeder with less sugar.

Because hummingbirds are such small creatures, they oftentimes fear predators. Shelters and umbrellas for hummingbird feeders offer safety to the small creatures. They also offer hummingbirds shade from the sun and protection from rain. These can be purchased separately if not already included in the feeder design.

Yard Envy is an official sponsor of The Hummingbird Society, whose motto is, "Teaching about hummingbirds, and working to protect them."

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