05-15-12, 11:36 AM #1
Last year I bought a 24oz bottom loading feeder and a bottle of feeding solution (clear red in color). The hummingbirds would fly up take a taste and fly away. I was pissed that I was sold something the hummingbirds didn't like.
So this year I cleaned the feeder and put in some sugar water and it's being emptied about every week now.
Does anyone else have any tips on feeders and feeding solution?
05-15-12, 12:08 PM #2
Sugar water is the best. There's no reason to buy hummingbird food. As for feeders, if you've got one that seems to work, that's good enough.
Just be diligent about keeping it clean. Birds don't have much of an immune system (one of the many things that have been stripped down for lightness, like their hollow bones) so they get sick easily. Wash it thoroughly once a week.
05-15-12, 12:29 PM #3
I've seen some feeders that have hummers buzzing around it like angry bees, fighting each other. On my feeder I've never seen more than one hummer at a time. It's hard for me to believe one hummer can drain a feeder as fast as it is being drained.
05-15-12, 01:25 PM #4
Have you ever added vitamin drops to the solution?
But if you've created an artificial colony that only feeds from your feeder, especially one that has stopped migrating and relies on your food to get through the winter, then you probably need some additives. It shouldn't be hard to look that up.Also, I was browsing feeders, seems like there are 1000's of them. I kind of liked some of the top loaders and the ones that also provided a perch for the hummers. Even though the hummers get a big sugar fix, they also expend a great deal of energy when hovering.I've seen some feeders that have hummers buzzing around it like angry bees, fighting each other. On my feeder I've never seen more than one hummer at a time.It's hard for me to believe one hummer can drain a feeder as fast as it is being drained.
The Rocklands Bird Sanctuary on the outskirts of Montego Bay, Jamaica, has been attracting hummingbirds for decades. Pay your admission and they hand you a little bottle of sugar water. You hold out the finger of one hand with the feeder right next to it in the other hand, and hummingbirds land on your finger to feed.
Talk about a unique experience!
Although a friend of mine discovered a nest of baby hummers whose mother was apparently dead. She took them in the house, put them in two strawberry baskets wired together and attached feeders all over the outside. Naturally they imprinted on her so when they grew up and she returned them to the outdoors they always followed her around whenever she was outside. She had a dress with a flower print and the birds came up and tried to suck nectar from the flowers.
Apparently she's not the only person who's done this. There are some videos on the web of other people doing the same thing.
05-15-12, 01:27 PM #5
I used to put out feeders, but now I don't and they still are as common as bees at my house!
05-15-12, 02:02 PM #6
My wife takes care of the feeders. Last time I watched she didn't add anything. Presumably they're also feeding on nectar so they should be getting enough other nutrients from that.
05-15-12, 03:25 PM #7
I've just hung my feeder (a cheap plastic one) in the big cedar tree out front; expecting them home any day. The shade keeps the water from getting too hot and hummers like to rest in nearby branches. There is a clump of pink columbine directly underneath, so two birds can take turns, back and forth - but if the other male comes at the same time, his little green tail is toast!
Usually, i buy boxes of powdered feed (hummingbird or oriole, doesn't matter; it's sugar) at the end of summer, on sale. I'm leery of putting in anything more unnatural: it's one thing to make up for habitat loss, another to interfere with their physiology. I do wash the feeder at each refill, and usually find lots of dead ants. Yuck.
05-15-12, 03:45 PM #8
05-15-12, 08:58 PM #9
Any old ants, small and large. They go for the sugar and drown.
I'm sorry for them and don't like the tiny corpses in my sink, but why should i attack them? They were here before me and my kind; will be here long after i and my kind are gone. I have no antipathy for ants - on the contrary, i try not to disrupt their lives any more than necessary - but that's true for all creatures: seems to me we've done enough, and keep doing more than enough harm, just by our normal activities.
05-15-12, 09:28 PM #10
05-20-12, 03:22 PM #11
Wow! I now have 2 hummers fighting over the feeder. The amazing thing is the smaller hummer is the dominate one. It's only about half as big as the other and the big one always runs away from the smaller one.
05-24-12, 12:39 AM #12
The vertical bottle shape feeders with tubes from the bottom drip from air expansion in the sun.
The hummingbird feeders that work best for me are the shallow disc-shaped ones about a foot across, red with a border of 6 - 8 white flower reliefs with very tiny holes for feeding, a central thick wire hang loop, and a wire rim for perching. These often hold two cups of mixed sugar water exactly.
These usually have an ant moat - a pool of water around the hanging stem, that prevents ants from leaving a scent trail to the sugar holes. That works, but must be kept filled. The tiny holes keep the bees out, the white instead of yellow flower patterns attract bees less, and the air gap between the holes and the sugar prevents dripping and therefore foraging bees. (bee guards, little meshes of plastic, don't work for the German yellowjackets that are taking over the US).
I use plain cheap sugar water, a little less than a cup of white sugar to a little more than two cups of (filtered, dechlorinated) water. They are sugar junkies - they just burn it like gas - and don't like adulterants.
You must keep it clean, especially of a kind of mold that grows as a black stain or film after a while. They can get mold in their airways, and they need to breathe easily. That requires disassembly of the feeder, and thorough brushing of the little pieces. My sister bleaches them, and boils the sugar water - I just scrub everything out once every few days, alternating between feeders so one is always available (they don't appreciate deprivation, and will buzz your head and chitter and flash their tails at you).
They don't drink that much, by volume, in my experience. If you are going empty fast, from a bottle feeder with tubes out the bottom, you might have flying squirrels or other thieves (had a raccoon once suck down a whole reservoir) or maybe it's in the sun and dripping a lot?
Hummingbirds will forage normally for little bugs (those beaks are not tubes - they open and grab things. The nectar is pulled in by a rough tongue in and out) and real flowers and the like, don't worry, and at least the Rubythroats we have here will leave on time for migration regardless - you can leave the feeder out all fall to maybe rescue a straggler.
Rubythroats are territorial, and will defend the feeder - if you're up for it, put out two or three widely spaced (opposite sides of the house, in front of different windows, say). Later in the year sometimes two or three will perch on one feeder (they like to perch, especially if it's raining or cold or they're loading up for the night), I presume they are family.
The tail spread and flash is not for balance or orientation - they do that with the wings mostly, sometimes bending the tail for aiming the flow. It's for signaling other hummingbirds - aggression, warning.
If I had another lifetime, I would study the organization of the hummingbird brain. It has to be one of the most efficient thinking machines in existence - under extraordinary pressure for size, weight, and energy consumption, in an animal that performs complex feats of migration and flower memory and nest building and physical maneuver.
I have never seen a sphinx moth at a hummingbird feeder - I have no idea why not.
Last edited by iceaura; 05-24-12 at 12:50 AM.
05-24-12, 01:21 AM #13
Also, what you said about vertical bottle shape feeders is true as it did happen to mine exactly as you described. My feeder holds 24oz and I used two full cups of white sugar and they love it. Not sure how fast they process the sugar water but I watched one hummer urinate twice at one stay of feeding.
I have the impression that the hummers save a great deal of time and energy by using feeders as opposed to looking for blooming flowers that haven't already been pillaged of all their nectar. I would think all wild animals are always thinking about their next meal, but a hummer with a feeder never has to worry about that.
I also feed other birds. Blue Jays love peanuts in the shell better than anything else you might want to feed them,
05-24-12, 01:33 AM #14
I've encountered hummingbirds in the deep woods. It's very startling because they move so fast among the thick tree trunks, and where the dark shadows and bright patches of sunlight impair the vision. Their whirlybird drone can be like an overhead jet when they come out of nowhere, buzzing their observer, maybe attracted to some color.
I wonder what they're eating. Have they found feeders, and go way off course just to hit them? I wonder what (if any) natural sources they may be after.
05-24-12, 03:57 AM #15
I gather you guys are adding food colouring. Bright colours potentially aid in attracting their attention, you could also look to perhaps planting certain flowers to that they would naturally use, might even keep the bees at bay.
05-24-12, 08:07 AM #16
I tried the feeder thing. A lot of work. I like the feeders that are made of plastic with a red tinted "bottle". I had some an they got messed up. The little plastic pieces that stops bees. Ended up missing. I found all of them, on the ground eventually. I even had a sort of expensive one. A gift, made of copper & glass an plastic, get ruined. So I bought a cheap one. My last feeder by the way. Because I figured out what was happening. I watched an set game cameras. Them bloody squirrels were tearing up the feeders an drinking the humming birds water an spilling it. An I had a issue as well with ants. The sugar ants here in Florida at my home are like the squirrels. They don't know well enough to leave them alone. I can't hardly even feed other birds because those squirrels, are "hogs" they eat every last seed. I am working on a way to remove a few.
Last edited by R1D2; 05-24-12 at 08:14 AM.
05-24-12, 09:40 AM #17
I've noticed that the hummers don't visit the sugar water feeders as much in May, June, and July as they do in August and September. I don't think they want to be fat in June and July and prefer natural nectar. Come August and September they start to put on a gram or two of fat by coming to the feeders much more often.
So there may be nothing wrong with your solution (4 water to 1 sugar) or location, they just don't want to overdo it till migration time nears. For Orioles, 6 water to 1 sugar.
05-24-12, 10:02 AM #18
In my yard, they like the red trumpet honeysuckle best. Some others they like:
05-24-12, 10:41 AM #19
05-24-12, 10:45 AM #20