Happy Hummingbirds- Tips for choosing the perfect hummingbird feeder
Here are some tips on how to get your hummingbird feeder and yard ready to play host to your favorite glittering gems.
Droll Yankees offers tips for choosing the perfect hummingbird feeder and making a hummingbird- friendly yard, including features to look for in a feeder, how to mix the ideal nectar at home, where to place a nectar feeder in a backyard, and which garden plants are most attractive to hungry hummingbirds.
Choosing a feeder: There are all kinds of nectar feeders on the market these days in all colors, shapes, sizes, and patterns. Be sure you are picking a feeder that is safe and easy for hummingbirds to feed from. Choose a feeder with these features in mind:
- Easy to clean – Bacteria can build up quickly, so the feeder must be totally cleaned at least every 5 days, more often in warm weather. Choose feeders that can be thoroughly scrubbed. Bottle feeders with narrow necks should be avoided. A brush should be able to reach and thoroughly clean the inner surface of the feeder.
- Pest Protection – Hummingbird Feeders with protected ports and ant moats will keep the nectar solely for hummingbird enjoyment and reduce the chances of contamination from ants and bees infiltrating the nectar. Avoid feeders with yellow feeding accents, as they are more likely to attract yellow jackets.
- Correct Capacity – Choose feeders with capacities that match your hummingbird population. The more feeders you put out, the more hummers you can attract. If you have only a few hummingbirds, use several small capacity feeders, placed out of sight of each other so that they cannot be controlled by one dominant bird. To conserve nectar, your feeders should not hold more nectar than can be consumed before cleaning time. This also helps you be faithful to your cleaning regimen.
Nectar Needs: Hummingbirds need to feed between 5 and 8 times every hour, so keeping your feeder well supplied with energy packed nectar is crucial, especially in early spring when natural flower nectar and insects are not as readily available.
Making your own nectar instead of using a pre-made mixture is easy and ensures there are no preservatives or coloring. Just mix 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. You may choose to boil the water first but it is not mandatory. Regular table sugar (sucrose) is what hummingbirds seem to like best and it is the most digestible for them. Regular tap water is fine to use. If your water is hard, it will give birds extra electrolytes. If it is soft, add a tiny pinch of salt to each quart of nectar but don’t overdo it or hummers won’t drink it. Nectar will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Do not use any red dye, honey, brown sugar, or sugar substitutes, as they could all be harmful to hummingbirds.
Attract them to your yard: Taking a few steps to ensure hummingbirds are totally at home in your yard makes all the difference. Plant flowers that provide natural food sources for hungry hummingbirds. Also, refrain from using pesticides. A small amount can adversely affect their tiny bodies. Hummers do not rely on nectar alone. Tiny insects provide their protein needs. They catch them on the wing, in flowers, and on spider webs. Leave spider webs in place. Spider silk is a common material favored in hummingbird nest construction.
Some flowers that are hummingbird favorites: American Columbine, Bee Balm, Bugleweed, Butterfly Milkweed, Coral Bean, Coralberry, Fuchsia, Hibiscus, Hollyhock, Larkspur, Lemon Bottlebrush, Mimosa Tree, Evening Primrose, Red Buckeye, Red Impatiens, Red Salvia, Sage, Tiger Lily, Trumpet Honeysuckle, Trumpet Vine, Weigela, Zinnia
Placement: With options of window mounting, hanging, or pole mounting, you can have a hummingbird feeder almost anywhere! Place them where you can see easily see them, even an easily accessible second story window! We’ve even a report of hummingbirds visiting a penthouse garden in New York City. If you must place a nectar feeder in full sun for your enjoyment, just remember to check the condition of the nectar more often. In order to help hummingbirds find your feeders more easily, place them near a hanging flowering plant or tie a red ribbon around the hanging rod. If you place your feeders out in early spring, you will be able to entice the early arrivals of spring migration and persuade them to stay.