Feeders and Feeding Hummingbirds (The Entire Article)

cmwren(Mid-Atlantic Coast, z7)January 1, 2013

TOPICS COVERED:

Selecting a Feeder

Red Food Coloring and Commercial Nectar Mixes

Why you should never use honey.

Proper Sugar Solution Recipe

Cleaning Your Hummingbird Feeder

How Many and Feeder Placement

What else can I do to attract hummingbirds?

There are literally dozens of styles of hummingbird feeders on the market today. (Hummingbirds are BIG!) None of the feeders are truly "wrong" as long as a hummingbird will use them, but some are "better" than others. Hummingbird experts prefer the newest "flying saucer" style hummingbird feeders, although almost any style of hummingbird feeder has the potential to attract hummingbirds. The cost runs a little on the high side for the "really good", engineered-for-hummingbird feeders but in the long run these feeders pay for themselves; they tend to be more reliable, are easier to use and maintain than other hummingbird feeders, and some even come with lifetime warranties.

A couple of comments on selecting a hummingbird feeder: The easier it is to use and clean, the more likely you are to keep it cleaned and filled. Clean and filled feeders will attract more hummingbirds. That said, there are some quite lovely "hummingbird feeders" around today that seem more works of art than bird feeders. As long as they can beand arekept thoroughly clean, and have most of the other features listed below, they should work.

In addition to tips on selecting a hummingbird feeder, this FAQ's page also has the hummingbird experts' recommended recipe for the nectar (sugar) solution, suggestions on feeder maintenance and placement, and additional suggestions for attracting and enjoying hummingbirds, as well as a couple of "Dont Do's" with explanations.

Please check the other Garden Web: Hummingbird Garden Forum FAQ's pages (available as we are able to post them), and always feel free to post a message or a question on the forum itself.

Features to Look for When Choosing a Hummingbird Feeder: (in no particular order)

* red color The most attractive color to hummingbirds is red. Look for red in the feeder itself rather than relying on dye to color the sugar solution. Hummingbirds are very inquisitive and even just a little bit of red on the feeder itself is quite sufficient. (See below for more on red dye.)

* ant protection Built in ant moats (check the feeder's packaging) or add-on ant moats solve most of the ants-at/in-the-feeder problem.

* bee guards The most attractive color to bees and wasps is yellow. Newer model feeders from most manufacturers no longer have yellow parts. Look for hummingbird feeders that claim on their packaging that their shape discourages bees from reaching the nectar (usually found with saucer-shaped styles).

* built in perches Hummingbirds prefer to sit when they feed if they are able to do so.

* size of feeder The smaller the better, until you determine how heavy the hummingbird usage is.

* ease of cleaning There should be no little nooks and...

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