For those of you who share my joy of hummingbirds or have thought about putting out a feeder, here is a short guide for reference or instruction.
Be aware that putting out a hummingbird feeder is not a one-and-done kind of a thing. Maintaining a hummingbird feeder is a commitment, just like feeding your dog or cat. In fact, it’s more work than you think, but it’s absolutely worth the effort. Once you get the process down, it’s a ten minute task—make no mistake, it’s a repeating task.
MAKE YOUR OWN NECTAR:
- Do not use the “red” premixed nectars. They have chemicals in them that are not healthy for hummingbirds.
- Use regular table sugar, not cane sugar.
- Mix 1/4 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water—a 1 to 4 ratio.
- Contrary to what you may read, you do not need to boil water—as hummingbirds themselves can introduce contaminants on their beaks. Boiling water simply helps to dissolve the sugar crystals.
- Unused nectar can be stored in the fridge for up to 10 days.
- Do NOT re use nectar.
- Pour out and discard uneaten nectar.
- Clean the feeder each time you refill with a mild solution of soap and water.
- Scrub with a tooth brush or bottle brush, etc. Especially if you see black mold.
- Rinse thoroughly using cold water, rubbing with your hands to remove all traces of soap sediment.
- OR run through the dishwasher (just make sure your feeder is dishwasher safe or it will melt)
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU REFILL YOUR FEEDER?
- In moderate climates, replace the nectar every 4-7 days.
- In warm climates, replace nectar every 2-4 days.
- In hot climates, replace nectar every 1-2 days.
- I cut down on waste by using smaller capacity feeders.
- Even if your feeder hasn’t lost a drop or looks fine to your eye, you MUST change your feeder’s nectar on a regular basis.
WHEN SHOULD YOU REFILL YOUR FEEDER?
- When it’s empty.
- When the nectar turns cloudy/milky.
- If you see black spots or bugs floating in the liquid.
- If you haven’t changed it in a week.
WHY YOU NEED TO CLEAN AND REFILL FREQUENTLY:
- Cloudy or milky nectar is the sign of bacterial growth—which means it’s rancid.
- Rancid nectar can poison/kill hummingbirds—Bacteria in spoiled nectar causes their tongues to swell up and will slowly starve them to death. It can also be passed along to their children.
- More often than not, hummingbirds will stop feeding at your feeder and never return.
WHAT TYPE OF FEEDER DO I USE?
My Hummers absolutely love this feeder: Aspects 430 Hummzinger Highview Mini Hummingbird Feeder.
- Note: It’s also a breeze to clean.
- I maintain two small sit-on-top feeders—1 cup capacity and a 1/2 cup capacity.
***PREVENT WINDOW STRIKES
If you have a feeder near or next to a window, please take measures to prevent bird strikes. I witnessed a hummer impact into my office window at full throttle—It’s soul-crushing. Hummingbirds that strike windows rarely survive, even if they can fly off.
- For minimal cost and an hour of my time, I made my own Acopian Birdsaver to prevent Hummingbird strikes. It works like a charm and is actually quite pleasing to the eye.
- Hummingbirds can be found in all 50 states and they will find your feeder.
- If you’re patient and motionless, you can train a hummingbird to feed out of your hand or by using a hand-held nectar feeder.
- Random: Praying mantis can kill hummingbirds - if you see one on or near your feeder, please gently remove it and relocate it away from your feeder—Don’t kill it. They are very beneficial to your backyard ecosystem (aside from being cool as heck).
And please, for the love of all birds, don’t let your cat anywhere near your hummingbird feeder.
Enjoy! Maintaining a hummingbird feeder is a simple way to add a huge smile to your every day.