Get your backyard ready for hummingbird season and choose the perfect hummingbird feeder with these sweet tips:
Choose a Feeder Designed with Hummingbirds in Mind
There are all kinds of nectar feeders on the market these days in all colors, shapes, sizes and patterns. When selecting your feeder, be on the lookout for these features that ensure it is safe and easy for hummingbirds to feed.
Easy to Clean
Bacteria can build up quickly, so the feeder must be cleaned at least every five days—more often in warm weather. Choose feeders that can be thoroughly scrubbed, and avoid bottle feeders with narrow necks. Make sure a brush is able to reach and completely clean the inner surface of the feeder.
See also: How to Clean Your Bird Feeders
Hummingbird feeders with protected ports and ant moats will keep the nectar exclusively for hummingbird enjoyment while reducing 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.
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 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.
Hummingbirds need to feed between five to eight 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 four parts water to one part table sugar. Do not use any red dye, honey, brown sugar, or sugar substitutes, as they could all be harmful to hummingbirds. You may choose to boil the water first, but it’s not mandatory. 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 the hummers won’t drink it. Nectar will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Attract Hummingbirds 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 in flowers and on spider webs. Leave spider webs in place. Spider silk is a common material favored in hummingbird nest construction.
Favorite Hummingbird Flowers:
- American Columbine
- Bee Balm, Bugleweed
- Butterfly Milkweed
- Coral Bean
- Lemon Bottlebrush
- Mimosa Tree
- Evening Primrose
- Red Buckeye
- Red Impatiens
- Red Salvia
- Tiger Lily
- Trumpet Honeysuckle
- Trumpet Vine
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 heard 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.