Feeding the Hummingbirds!

Hummingbird Dialogue 1
Hummingbird Dialogue 1, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

Hummingbird Dialogue 2

Hummingbird Dialogue 3

Hummingbird Dialogue 4

Hummingbird Dialogue 5

Hummingbird Dialogue 6

Hummingbird Dialogue 7

Hummingbird Dialogue 8

Hummingbird Dialogue 9

More and more hummingbirds have been arriving at our feeders for the last month now and provide us with lots of entertainment!  Hummingbirds specialize in eating nectar, and they depend on this sugar-rich food for up to 90 percent of their diet.

If hummingbirds migrate to your area, here’s a recap on how you can help attract these beauties to your yard.  (By the way, Joey is an adult male, Black-chinned hummingbird.  When the light catches his throat, or gorget, just right, the coloring is a deep, rich beautiful purple!)

  • Hang a feeder, preferable with red, like a red base, that will attract the hummingbirds.  Fill with a simple sugar solution you can make at home.
  • Sugar solution:
    • 1 part sugar
    • 4 parts water
    • Boil for about 2 minutes to clear out chlorine and dissolve the sugar.  Do not boil too long as the water evaporation can create a more concentrated sugar solution.  Cool and store unused portion in the refrigerator.
  • Never use honey or artificial sweeteners.  Honey ferments easily and promotes the growth of harmful bacteria.  Artificial sweeteners have no food value.
  • Avoid adding red food coloring.  The dye may be harmful to the birds. Regardless, it is an additive and in my opinion, it’s better to be safe and leave it out.  The birds will be attracted to the red color on the hummingbird feeders.
  • Hang feeders in the shade to discourage fermentation of the sugar solution.
  • Clean the feeders about once a week and change the sugar solution regularly, about 2 to 3 times a week in hot weather, before the water gets cloudy.  Fill it only part way to avoid wasting food.  We fill ours about 1/3 full each time…adding more if the birds start draining the food quicker.
  • The sugar solution can ferment quickly in hot weather and be less attracting for the birds.  The fermentation can also cause mold, which can be harmful or fatal.
  • Use one part white vinegar to four parts water as a cleaning solution for the feeders.  To remove mold deposits, add dry rice grains and shake vigorously to scrub the mold off.  Make sure the feeding ports are not clogged.  Rinse three times with warm water before refilling with food.
  • Hummingbirds are territorial and will dominate feeders close to each other.  Put up multiple feeders in different locations, out of view from each other.
  • Hang the feeders about two weeks before they start arriving in the spring.  In the fall, leave them up for about two weeks after you see the last hummingbird at the feeders.  Hummingbirds know when it’s time to leave and will not stay if you leave the feeders out.  Plus, they need to double their body mass before they migrate south, so they will need to consume a LOT of food for their long journey.

I hope you are all having a nice week!

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47 responses to “Feeding the Hummingbirds!

  1. Also, plant flowers humming birds like! They are at their most beautiful when they are eating the nectar from flowers – what is more beautiful than a tiny busy bird that lives off the sweet product of flowers? I know not everyone can have the right flowers at the right time

  2. Great photos of these beautiful birds. I sure do wish that a feeder in my yard would attract them but unfortunately there are none here in Australia. Oh well. I guess you can’t have everything!!

  3. Thanks! I did not know they were territorial too!
    I have read so much about sugar being harmful to humans, and that a lot of sugar now is made from GMO beets, so I have been reluctant to put up a hummingbird feeder until I can find something that would in my mind be safer for them.
    Does anyone know of any alternatives?

  4. Lovely photos. I never cease to be amazed at the shape of this tiny bird.
    Wish we had them in Australia.

  5. Wonderful. I remember my grandmother filling hers up all the time. she loved these little guys and when I see them now I’m reminded of her. When i get a yard I’ll be able to follow all of your tips. Thanks

  6. Have never seen bird feeders here Fergie! Wonder why. Shall try and place one in our balcony, wouldn’t want the pesky pigeons to thrive though. Your photos are beyond stunning.

  7. Very nice. My hummers come back every year. I always use the sugar water and they love it; Some tips you have here, I knew ~ some I didn’t. Thanks so much for sharing. ~Happy Tuesday Muse~

  8. What a wonderful post ….. we don’t have hummingbirds over here .. I wish and if we had, I would have followed all your advice – fantastic photos too. I really enjoyed this post.

  9. What a Great post!
    Thank you for sharing, I do appreciate it and I learned several things I didn’t know
    Take Care…

  10. Oh love this!! ….. fertile….my late friend rehabbed hummers and told me that I didn’t have to boil the water… I use filtered water in mine….. Love this…. Michelle

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  12. A great tutorial for hummer protocol! Your shots are fantastic. We have hummer wars in our backyard. Who knew these little adorable critters could be so mean!

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  17. I don’t think I have ever even seen a hummingbird, let alone had the chance to photograph one. I would just love that opportunity.

  18. These are great tips! I have a bird feeder on my window sill in the city. I wonder if there are hummingbirds in my area. I would love to see them. Thanks for the tips. 🙂

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