Hummingbird Feeders Bird Watcher Supply
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Nectar is an alternative food that you can offer wild birds. Hummingbirds are the primary reason for adding a nectar feeder to a backyard habitat and they alone are a wonderful addition to your bird world. Create a backyard hummer sanctuary and offer them special feeding stations, a beautiful addition to any habitat. See also Hummingbird Feeder Ant Moats and Guards.
Nectar Bird Feeders
Nectar is an alternative food that you can offer wild birds. Itís a specialized treat for them and only appeals to certain types of birds, but these guys are well worth having a station set aside in your garden. Hummingbirds are of curse the primary reason for adding a nectar feeder to your backyard habitat and they alone are a wonderful addition to your bird world. Adding a hummingbird nectar feeder requires more maintenance than other feeders, but our garden would not be complete without them.
You may purchase ready made nectar for your hummingbird feeder, or make your own.
1 Part sugar
4 Parts water
Boil 1-2 minutes
Cool & store in refrigerator
Never use honey or artificial sweeteners. Honey ferments quickly and can cause sores in a hummers mouth. Artificial sweeteners have no food value and we donít know how they effect birds, so do not bother. It could harm them and the sugar water works great.
We do not use red food coloring in our solution as this could be harmful to hummers. No testing has been done on the effects dye has on birds so it is case of maybe it does or maybe it is fine. Our take on that is that if there is a chance of harming the birds, do not take it. Humming bird feeders are often red or another attractive color already and this is sufficient to attract them to your garden. Hummingbirds are not attracted to the color of the nectar; they are attracted to the color of the feeding port. If your feeders lack red parts, hang a bright red or orange ribbon or piece of cloth below the feeder.
Hummingbird/Nectar Feeder Styles
Hummingbird/Nectar feeders are available in many different styles. Some are decorative while others are functional, but all are made to hold hummingbird nectar. It is a matter of personal preference which type you choose. You can make your own nectar recipe or buy pre-made nectar mixes.
Types of Hummingbird/Nectar Feeders
Hummingbird Vacuum or Gravity Feeder - an inverted bottle which empties into a feeding port container or tube below the main body, often colored red. They come in glass or plastic.
Hummingbird Saucer Feeder Ė most often a red, dish like container with a cover. Tiny holes are in the cover through which the hummingbird can drink the nectar. These holes are large enough for the little beaks of a hummingbird but often too small for the beaks of larger wild birds. Glass or plastic.
Oriole Feeder - An oriole feeder is essentially designed the same way as a saucer hummingbird feeder but is larger, has longer perches to support orioles and other birds larger than a hummingbird and is usually colored orange instead of red. Often you can skewer an orange half on the top of the feeder and give orioles both nectar and citrus slices which they love.
Hummingbird nectar feeders are often entirely made of plastic although glass is popular for the more decorative hummingbird nectar feeders. Advantages of using glass or metal is that they are easier to keep clean than plastic. Glass syrup holders provide slightly better insulation from the sun and they also last than plastic feeders. The down side of glass is that it is breakable and heavy.
Plastic is usually more economical to purchase than glass. Plastic will also eventually break down and need replacing, but personally we have feeders which are five years old and still fine. Weather and sun will play a good part in how long your plastic feeder will last. Nectar feeders should be hung in the shade to keep the syrup fresher longer, but also in order to keep plastic feeders from fading or getting sun-worn.
Our favorite style hummingbird nectar feeder is a saucer by far and we prefer plastic over glass - but that is very much a personal preference. Glass hummingbird feeders can be quite unique and pretty. Since the nectar is below the feeding ports, you do not get dripping or leaking which may occur in gravity feeders. Also your view of the birds is great since there is no bottle for the hummers to hide behind. They are easy to clean and easy to fill, most come with built in ant traps. We get very few bees and wasps at these feeders. Since a hummerís tongue is as long as itís beak, and we are not leaving the nectar solution in there long, we only fill the feeder Ĺ way. The feeding port holes are large enough for hummingbird beaks but too small for most bees and wasp.
If you do not care for the saucer dish style, there are several pretty, decorative hummingbird feeders which still have the feeding ports above the nectar reservoir. While we have had good luck with the classic style gravity feeder, we still prefer having the nectar fluid below the feeding ports.
Other Birds that Use a Hummingbird/Nectar Feeder
Hummer feeders will attract other birds besides hummingbirds. We donít see these often on our feeders, but do occasionally put up an oriole feeder in winter for these guys:
Finches and Sparrows
some nectar drinking Bat species
Hummingbird/Nectar Feeder Care/Cleaning
Your hummingbird feeders need to be cleaned, and nectar changed every 3-4 days. You may need to do this more often in hotter weather. If you see black spots inside your feeder take it down and clean it immediately. Sugar water is a great habitat for mold and bacteria, so take care to keep your hummingbird nectar feeders clean! Back spots in the feeder can be mold, so you will need to scrub it out with a good bottle brush. If you can not reach it inside the reservoir with a bottle brush you may use a light bleach solution with water and shake the feeder to remove the mold. Rinse very well! Then rinse again. Rinse and clean your hummingbird nectar feeder each time you change the food.
Use of bleach may cause the color on the feeder's plastic parts to fade. We do not use bleach on our feeders that are colored, only on the clear reservoir. Instead, warm soapy water is used on red parts of nectar feeders.
As an alternative to bleach, we have heard of bird watchers using grains of uncooked rice BBs and even sand as tiny abrasive "scrubbers." Using a funnel, put 1/4 c. rice or BBs into the feeder and fill it halfway with warm water. Put your finger over the opening and shake . We have not tried this, but if you do not wish to use bleach, it is an alternative.
A cotton swab is helpful in removing dirt or mold stuck in feeder ports.
Hummingbird/Nectar Feeder Tips:
These are only our observations which may be of some help but are only our observations with our own personal backyards.
- If you have several hummingbirds, multiple feeders are a good idea. Hang them apart, preferably where birds can not see other feeders at the same time. Male hummingbirds will jealously guard feeders and actively repel females hummers who approach his feeding station. Multiple feeders give the females a better chance of getting fed. We have also witnessed some pretty territorial females.
- Hang your feeder out of the direct sun. This will help the sugar water from spoiling as quickly and any colored parts of plastic feeders from fading.
- Never use honey or artificial sweeteners. Honey ferments rapidly and can make hummers ill.
- We do not use red food coloring in our solution as this could be harmful to hummers. This is a personal choice and we do it because the effects of dye on hummingbirds is unknown at this time.
We have heard the ďperches on hummer feeders are bad and can kill hummingbirdsĒ tale. The theory is that hummers would land on a feeder perch in the early morning and drink the cold morning nectar, and this jolt of coldness would cause them to go into torpor, a trance-like state in which body functions slow drastically to conserve energy. Some hummers were found hanging upside down from their perches, while others fell to the ground and were at the mercy of predators. It has been theorized that the hummers did not generate enough body heat while sitting and succumbed to the cold, therefore perches should be removed in order to force the birds to hover and produce body heat.
So far there is no scientific evidence to support this. Hummingbirds survive in extremely cold weather in a state of torpor, so they may be in their natural state on a particularly cold morning. Hummingbirds can be stung by bees or wasps, or injured in the fighting which will happen at busy nectar feeding stations. We have seen birds knock each other clean out of the air. Our feeders have perches. From what we can tell, it seems to help keep the peace. More than one hummer will land on a feeder with perches, whereas we have not seen multiple birds hover for food. We will keep our perches until there is some evidence which backs up the torpor theory.
It is a myth that there's only one hummingbird species found east of the rocky mountains. Other species of hummingbirds besides the ruby-throated have been recorded in the east. There are even breeding records for other hummingbird species primarily the buff-bellied hummingbird, in southern Texas. In winter this statement is even less accurate because there can be as many as 10 different hummingbird species visiting feeders throughout the southeastern states. The rufous hummingbird, a hardy species which can breed as far north as Alaska, has been recorded multiple times in the eastern states. It is unknown if this is a new phenomenon other fact that there are more and more backyard bird watchers putting up hummingbird feeders and supplying these tiny birds with habitat.
Bees & Ants
You will need some form of ant traps or ant guard. Usually these are small dishes or cups of water you can hang above the feeder which act as a barrier, cutting off the antís access to the feeder itself. Ants will make a steady line up to your feeder without an ant trap since feeding port holes are easily accessible to an ant. Many humming bird nectar feeders come with built in ant guards but they are also available as an add-on accessory for existing feeders.
Bees prefer yellow. Now maybe there is some scientific backup to this, we do not know. Maybe itís total hooey and only occurring in our backyards. The bees in our backyard bother our yellow hummingbird nectar feeders far more than our feeders which are red. They are also more likely to be a bother at a gravity feeder since the sweet nectar is right up to the feeding port and can be easily accessed by a bee, however, there are all sorts of bee guards for this which can be added to feeders.