Hummingbird feeders are a brilliant addition to any yard or garden. Properly locating, hanging, and cleaning your feeder will ensure that plenty of birds stop by for a drink. Hummingbirds are most likely to visit a feeder during their migrations in spring and fall. Hang the feeder as early as 2 weeks before you expect to see any birds, and keep it up several weeks after your last sighting. Having available food won’t prevent the hummingbirds from migrating, and keeping a source of nectar out early or late can give stragglers and early migrators a boost for the long flight.
EditChoosing an Optimal Location
- Situate the feeder in a shady location to prevent nectar from fermenting. If your hummingbird feeder is in a location that receives full sun throughout the day, heat from the sun will get trapped in the feeder and raise the internal temperature. This will cause the fluids to ferment and spoil. Hot nectar could also potentially burn the hummingbirds’ small mouths.
- Hummingbirds won’t come to a feeder full of fermented nectar, so they’re likely to go hungry in this case.
- Locate the feeder where you can easily see it from inside your home. Make sure to account for your view when you choose a place for the feeder. It’s a treat to watch these iridescent birds as they hover and drink. So, place the feeder within view of a window. Because you’ll need frequent access to it for cleaning and refilling, the location should be easily accessible, and not too high for you to reach.
- However, since feeders often have 5-6 birds buzzing around them, don’t hang the feeder in a high-traffic area (e.g. in front of your home’s main entrance).
- Place feeders near bright flowers to attract many hummingbirds. Hummingbirds love bright colors and naturally flock to them. For example, if you hang your feeder near a planter full of brightly-colored flowers, it’ll attract many more birds than if you were to hang it in front of a drab beige-colored wall. If you’re hanging the feeder in a tree or on a pole in your yard, choose a location near a flower bush or a plant with brightly-colored leaves.
- If you don’t have any flowers in your yard, consider filling a planter with bright flowers to draw in hummingbirds.
- While hummingbirds tend to favor the color red, they’ll come to any bright flower.
- Elevate your feeder about off the ground. At this height, you’ll be able to see the feeder easily and won’t have to stretch or stoop to change the water. This height will also situate your feeder out of the reach of small children, pets, and pests (like chipmunks or squirrels) that could otherwise knock down or break the feeder.
- To afford your hummingbirds some protection from predators and give them a sense of security, locate the feeder within of a tree, bush, or other natural cover.
- Hang multiple feeders to prevent birds from fighting over spots to feed. Male hummingbirds can be aggressive and territorial about feeding and roosting locations, so by hanging more than 1 feeder, you’ll ensure that more birds can enjoy the nectar. Locate 3-4 feeders out of sight from one another. This way, many birds can feed at once.
- For example, try hanging 1 feeder in front of the main entrance to your home, 1 off of a rear deck, and 1 on a second-story window.
EditSelecting and Installing the Feeder
- Hang a J-hook feeder if you live in a tree-filled area or have a large yard. J-hook feeders are among the easiest type to hang up, since they only need a sturdy tree branch or pole in your yard. Simply hang the feeder’s J-hook top over a stable branch on a tree in your hard or over a hook on the eaves of your house. Many J-hook feeders also come with a metal pole that you can stake in your hard and hook the feeder over.
- J-hook feeders are sturdy and, if you hang them on a metal pole, can be placed wherever you like. However, since the nectar is suspended upside down in this style of feeder, they’re likely to leak a little.
- If there are no branches small enough to accommodate the hook at the top of your hanging feeder, you can tie a loop of ribbon or string to the branch and hang the J-hook from that.
- Opt for a suction-cup feeder if your home has large windows. Suction-cup hummingbird feeders have 1 or 2 large suction cups at the top of the feeder that can be pressed against a pane of glass to hold the feeder in place. If you have a home with several large windows, suction-cup feeders are your best bet. Simply wet the suction cup and press it firmly against the glass to hang the feeder.
- An added benefit of suction-cup style feeders is that they keep the birds close to your home. This makes for easy viewing, since the birds will hover right in front of your windows.
- However, since suction-cup feeders hang on a window, birds may collide with the window from time to time. Place a bird-shaped paper cutout in the window to help prevent this.
- Use a saucer-style feeder to attract many birds at once. Saucer feeders are round and hang suspended in the air so that up to 6 birds can feed at once. Saucer feeders commonly have a string attached to the center. In some cases, a plastic or metal piece with a loop on the end extends upward from the middle of the saucer. Hang the string or the plastic (or metal) loop over a small branch near your home. You can also hang it over a metal hook if no branches are nearby.
- Saucer-type feeders are usually intended to be hung, but, provided the bottom is flat, you can remove the hanging apparatus and set the feeder on a flat surface. For example, you could put the feeder on a deck railing or on the ground in a garden.
- A benefit of saucer feeders is that, unlike suction-cup and J-hook feeders, they never leak since the nectar is at the bottom of the saucer. However, since they can attract a large flock of hummingbirds, fights may break out around saucer feeders.
EditFilling and Cleaning the Feeder
- Fill the hummingbird feeder with nectar made from sugar and water. Pour 4 parts of water into a saucepan on your stove and set the burner on high. As the water warms, add in 1 part of white sugar. Bring the water to a low boil, and let it boil for 2–3 minutes so the water and sugar blend. Then, let the water cool for 30 minutes, and pour it into your feeder.
- The size of the carafe varies from one hummingbird feeder to another. Only make enough nectar to fill the carafe of your feeder(s).
- If you make extra, you can store it in the refrigerator. The nectar will only keep for about 1 week, though.
- Never use honey or artificial sweeteners in your nectar, and never give hummingbirds commercial foods that contain red dye.
- Clean the feeder with vinegar and warm water once a week. Due to the high sugar content of the nectar, the feeders get dirty quickly. To clean them, mix white vinegar and warm water at a ratio of 1:4. Dump out the old, dirty water, and pour in about of the vinegar solution. Place the lid back on the feeder and shake it vigorously to clean out the feeder.
- If the inside of the feeder is especially dirty, drop 12–20 grains of rice in along with the vinegar mixture. The rice will scrape stains or moldy patches out from the carafe.
- Rinse the carafe with warm water and refill the feeder. Once it’s clean, rinse the feeder out 2–3 times with warm water to remove all traces of the vinegar mixture. If any vinegar is left inside, birds will stop drinking from the feeder. Then, refill the feeder with another batch of sugar water for the birds to eat.
- Hang the feeder again, and watch as more of the beautiful birds come by to drink!
- Keep ants away by filling the feeder’s ant moat with water. Ants are a problem for all hummingbird feeders, but get especially bad with suction-cup feeders, since ants have easy access to them. Prevent ants from accessing your feeders by filling up the feeders’ ant moat with water. The ant moat is a wide trough that goes around the feeder. When ants attempt to get to the sweet nectar, they’ll fall and drown in the moat. At least once a week, scoop the ant bodies out of the ant moat and dispose of them.
- Most saucer and J-hook feeders have ant moats. Suction-cup feeders often don’t, since the moat would be unable to wrap all the way around the feeder.
- If you’re concerned about ants and wasps getting into the nectar and bothering the hummingbirds, purchase a bee guard that can be attached to the feeder. Most hardware stores sell bee guards.
- Never fill the moat with oil. Small birds will drink from the moat from time to time, and the oil could harm them.
- If you don’t take preventative steps, you’ll soon find that your feeder is full of drowned ants, and that the birds are no longer drinking from it.
- If you’re concerned about ants getting into the nectar, consider installing an ant moat or ant guard on the base of the feeder. An ant guard is a small-cup shaped barrier, hung between the feeder and the support, which keeps ants away.
- Remove the feeder during storms with heavy winds to prevent damage.
- Watch for mold in the feeder, and clean it as often as you replace the nectar.
- Never use honey, artificial sweeteners, or red dye in your nectar.
- Be aware of potential predators. If there are outdoor cats in your neighborhood, don’t use a deck-feeder or a low-hanging feeder.
- If you attach the feeder to a window, put stickers or cut-outs against the glass to prevent birds from running into it.
- Attract Hummingbirds
- Keep Ants Off Hummingbird Feeders
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