Hummingbird Feeders & Nectar Solutions
Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden
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.
The Hummingbird Feeder
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.
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 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.
Yes, Bees Like Feeders Too ... What to Do?
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.
And never use any sort of oil or Vaseline type products on the feeders to deter insects ... products like these are harmful to hummingbirds.
What About Ants?
If you are subject to ants, you might want to attach ant-guards, or moats, above your feeders.
Some feeders, like the Aspects model (left), have a small, built-in moat on top that you fill with water.
Standalone ant-guards/moats hang above the feeder, like that shown to the right. We like this set of two as it is colored red, yet transparent, it holds a lot of water, and you can check the water level in the guard. Plus, it has large hooks above and below the guard. They are well made, and sell for a reasonable price (compared with other ant moats).
Shown below is the hummingbird feeder configuration we are using in our home gardens in 2020: the First Nature 5055 32-oz feeder, with an OrienTools ant moat above.
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.
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.
A classic 16-oz First Nature 3051 feeder hung at eave-level ... always a favorite of the hummingbirds!
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
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|
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|More Hummingbird Feeders We Are Using This Year|
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!
|Aspects Zigger Excel ... Flat, 6 feeding station hummingbird feeder with continuous perch|
|Flat, horizontal 8 feeding station hummingbird feeder from Droll Yankees|
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!
Fun, yet functional, feeders abound ... like this one in the shape of the State of Texas!