Hummingbird Feeders & Nectar Solutions


Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Low hanging hummingbird feeder surrounded by Batface Cuphea, Periwinkles, and Firebush
Low hanging hummingbird feeder surrounded by Batface Cuphea, Periwinkles, Dianthus, and Firebush

Hummingbirds, like other birds and other animals, need food, water, and shelter, the basic necessities of life. If you provide these, you will soon find hummingbirds in your garden!

Their diet includes small insects, spiders, sap and nectar. Insects are caught in mid-air or found on trees and foliage. Nectar provides the sugar needed to feed the hummingbird's constant energy consumption.

To satisfy the hummingbirds need for nectar, we've included in our landscape several types of Lantana, Zinnias, Butterfly Bushes, Pentas, Milkweed, Salvia, Batface Cuphea, Nasturtiums, Coreopsis, and other hummingbird-friendly plants, annuals and perennials.

Learn more about planting a hummingbird gardening full of hummingbird-friendly flowers

The Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbird feeder nestled amidst Pentas, Geraniums, Batface, Roses and other colorful flowers
Three hummingbird feeders nestled amidst Pentas, Geraniums, Batface, Roses and other colorful flowers

Planting the right flowers is an important element in establishing the right environment for attracting hummingbirds. But you need another key attractant: the hummingbird feeder!

Sizes and Styles of Hummingbird Feeders

We use about ten feeders, of varying sizes and shapes. While some are "singles" others have four feeding stations/flowers and hold 8 oz. of nectar solution.

We always leave room for fancier, glass hummingbird feeders to provide some variety in the landscape!
We always leave room for fancier, glass hummingbird feeders to provide variety and texture in the landscape!

Our favorite feeders host from 8-10 hummers at one time, and hold from 32-48 oz. We use a variety of vertical feeders, and horizontal feeders to give the hummers a choice of feeding stations.

Some feeders are acrylic, and some glass. The plastic ones are lighter and not subject to breakage, but may contain BPA.

However, many prefer glass hummingbird feeders and their long-term durability as opposed to plastic (which can warp, fade and crack over time). And sometimes glass is easier to clean than plastic.

And newly introduced are the the new "top feeder" models, which can simplify the refilling process.

Whatever feeder you prefer, make sure that it has adequate red color to be visible to the hummingbird from a distance.

Window Hummingbird Feeders

And if you have a great window from which to watch nature, there are now window hummingbird feeders that provide up-close viewing! These window-mount feeders attach directly to the window via suction cups, and can easily be moved.

TIP: Plastic or glass? It's a personal decision. There is concern among some about the harm posed to hummingbirds from the BPA plastic used on some feeders. Glass feeders are felt to be safer in this regard. We suggest you research the subject and the marketplace, consider the potential danger of feeders with BPA, and then make your purchase decisions based on the information you have at hand.

 

What About Ants and Bees?

An Aspects flat hummingbird feeder at eye-level with Firebush and Pentas
An Aspects flat hummingbird feeder with six feeding stations and built-in ant moat at eye-level with Firebush and Pentas

If you are subject to ants, you might want to attach ant-guards above your feeders. Plus, some feeders, like the Aspects model shown to the right, have small, built-in ant-guards, or moats, on top that you fill with water.

Bees, hornets and wasps are always a problem for hummingbird enthusiasts. Feeders with bee-guards are a plus.

Our main defense again these flying insects is to wipe the feeder of any excess drops of nectar solution before rehanging it. If bees become a real nuisance, we will move the feeder to another location.

Another solution is to use feeders without yellow, a color that seems to attract bees and wasps.

Let's Share a Feeder!

During early spring when feeding activity is not very high, we typically only half-fill the feeder as that will last for days.

As the fall migration peaks in late August and early September we fill the feeders to brim. It is then that the hummingbirds start to share feeders, an action unheard of during the summer when defending a feeder is the norm. As sharing continues, we will see 6-8-10 hummingbirds on a feeder at a time.

The Hummingbird Feeder Mixture Recipe

When formulating your hummingbird mixture recipe, remember that nectar found in nature is typically in the range of 12%-35% sugar (sucrose). The solution you prepare should be similar to that found in nature.

We make our own solution, mixing four parts water to one part sugar, i.e., 20% sugar. We do not boil the water, but we find that using warmer water helps dissolve the sugar quicker.

We find that even if we miss the exact proportions, the hummingbirds don't mind ... after all, in nature the nectar level varies from plant to plant.

We never use red-dye ... it is just not needed in the feeding solution, and it can be harmful to hummingbirds.

Cleaning the Feeders

A classic 16-oz First Nature feeder hung at eave-level ... always a favorite of the hummingbirds!
A classic 16-oz First Nature 3051 feeder hung at eave-level ... always a favorite of the hummingbirds!

On cool days in spring, and on warmer days early in the summer when the birds are not draining the feeders daily, we can leave in the nectar mix for 4-5 days or until the mix starts to cloud ... we then replace it.

During migration, the mixture never goes bad, as we have to refill the feeders daily.

It is important to keep the feeders clean. During refilling, we inspect each feeder, and scrub with a brush and clean water any areas where mold, dirt, ants or other debris have accumulated.

Avoid using cleansers that will leave poisonous residue.

TIP: Having trouble cleaning out those tiny feeding outlets? Us too! Then we found these small "Perfect Little Brushes" from Droll Yankee that work great. We got ours at Amazon but you can probably get them elsewhere. They come in a package of three ... we kept one for our own use, gave one to our daughter, and one to a friend.

 

Most Popular Hummingbird Feeders in 2017

Shop for more feeders, supplies and books in our Hummingbird Store
Visit the Hummingbird Store ... nature books, hummingbird feeders, books, flags, gifts, videos and more!

 

New Hummingbird Feeders We Are Using in 2017

 

What About Next Year?

Hummingbirds have an innate ability to remember their favorite feeding locales. Banding experts have shown time and time again that individual hummingbirds return to the same spot year after year.

So enjoy your hummers today ... and hopefully you will see them again next year!

Hummingbird Feeder Photographs

First Nature 3055
32-oz 10-feeding station vertical hummingbird feeder ... the extra capacity is great during peak feeding season!
Several hummingibrds feeding on a 10-flower vertical feeder
Aspects Zigger Excel ... Flat, 6 feeding station hummingbird feeder with continuous perch Flat, 6 feeding station hummingbird feeder with continuous perch
Flat, horizontal 8 feeding station hummingbird feeder from Droll Yankees Flat, horizontal 8 feeding station hummingbird feeder

16-oz First Nature 3051 feeder at a low level near a variety of hummingbird friendly plants.

This is a great solution if you have no pets, or raccoons!

Put the feeders at eye-level for the enjoyment of the hummingbirds, and you!

16-oz First Nature feeder at a low level near a variety of hummingbird friendly plants

Fun, yet functional, feeders abound ... like this one in the shape of the State of Texas!

State of Texas hummingbird feeder