Facts about Hummingbird Feeders


Hummingbird Feeders, Nectar and Feeder Placement


Success in the hummingbird game starts with your hummingbird feeders themselves, along with the nectar that you present, and the placement of your feeders.  You will find that the vast majority of commercially available hummingbird feeders are constructed (at least in part) of bright red materials, especially directly around the actual openings where the nectar is dispensed, often shaped as flowers.  This is because hummingbirds are naturally attracted to the bright red and orange colored flowers that contain the most and the best nectar that they seek.

Feeders that contain too much yellow can attract bees, so stay away from yellow if you have a lot of bees in your yard.   There is also much debate in the hummingbirder's community about the use of clear feeders filled with artificially colored nectar, especially red.  While there have been no definative studies that have shown that dyes are directly harmful... the generally accepted opinion discourages the use of any dyes in your nectar solutions, even the commercially available pre-mixed colored nectars.  The hummers don't necessarily like it, and why take the chance that it cold have long-term ill effects on our little buddies.
The sugar water solution that you fill your hummingbird feeders with should be made of four parts water to one part regular old white granulated sugar.  Gently boil the mixture on the stovetop to help the sugar dissolve, and to sterilize it, which prevents premature fermentation or spoilage.  Use clean and non-chlorinated water, not only to appeal to the palate of the hummingbirds, but also because hummingbirds get the vast majority of their hydration and minerals from the nectar.  Using distilled water eliminates the minerals, and using too much sugar can actually dehydrate the little critters.  And… never, ever, ever use honey!  Honey is derived by bees from the nectar of flowers that hummingbirds do not generally visit, and honey can also contain spores that have been known to cause fatal infections in hummingbirds.  And put out just enough nectar so it doesn't run out while they're feeding, but not so much that the nectar spoils.
The placement of your hummingbird feeders is also important.  If you plan to hang multiple feeders, don’t bunch them too closely together.  This can actually promote mid-air collisions and cause bickering among the visitors, especially at peak feeding times.  But don't place them too far apart either, or you will lose the attraction power of having multiple feeders.  About five or six feet is a good spacing.  And once you have regular visitors at your feeders, try to post them at the same locations each year, they will remember!  Also try to get your feeders out early in the season, before the bugs emerge.  This patterns the early arriving hummingbirds on your feeders as a readily available energy source before they get too used to eating those delicious protien-packed bugs.

Be sure to post your hummingbird feeders in the partial shade to help prolong the life of the nectar.  Direct sunlight can promote fermentation and actually cause the sugar and water solution to begin to separate, which can cause your hummingbird feeders to drip.  The openings are sized to allow the outside air pressure to keep the nectar from oozing out, which also depends on the viscosity (thickness) of the solution.  It also helps to plant red and orange flowering bushes near the areas where your feeders are hung, especially trumpet shaped flowers. And lastly, the feeding hummingbirds appreciate having a “staging area” to rest for a spell between dips at the well.  So, it’s good to have your hummingbird feeders located within about 20 feet of tree branches where they can land to wait their turn at the feeders.  Ready to stock up on feeders?  Drop by our Hummingbird Feeder Store.