Baxter County Master Gardener Program • University of Arkansas System • Division of Agriculture • © 2013 BCMG
Selecting a Feeder
My most important criteria when selecting a feeder is the ability to clean and fill it with ease. In order to be a responsible host, you must keep your feeder very clean and full of fresh nectar. Choosing a feeder which makes these tasks easy will make your life easier. Select a feeder that comes apart easily so all parts can be cleaned.
It's best if the feeder can be kept in the shade because the nectar will remain fresh longer. If you are willing to change it more often, it's fine to hang it in the sun. The feeder should be placed out of the reach from pets especially cats. We recommend hanging it near a window so you can watch the birds eat. Hummingbirds are so quick and agile that they quickly lose their fear of us slow-motion animals. After just a few days or a week of feeding outside of a window, most hummingbirds will let you come right up to the window and watch them eat.
Here is the recipe for making hummingbird nectar:
Sugar water is a very rich growth medium. Yeasts like to eat it, causing fermentation, and this can harm hummingbirds. Mold and bacteria grow in it and can also harm the birds. That's why it's important to keep the feeder clean and the nectar fresh. You must change the nectar frequently to avoid these contaminants. The chart below is a good guideline on when to change the nectar.
High temperatures Change nectar after
71 - 75 6 days
76 - 80 5 days
81 - 84 4 days
85 - 88 3 days
89 - 92 2 days
93+ change daily
Remember: these are guidelines, if you notice that the nectar is turning milky or that white strings or black spots are growing in it, change it more often. Clean the feeder with very hot water each time you refill it. Be sure to take them apart every time and clean well. If contamination occurs, use a mild bleach solution to sterilize it, but if you use bleach, rinse thoroughly afterwards. Even a tiny amount of bleach could be harmful to birds. Glass or metal pieces can be boiled, but you should probably not boil plastic pieces. The black mold may leave a very faint stain, but this will not affect the safe operation of the feeder.
What To Do About Bees
Hummingbird feeders come in many shapes, styles and designs. Some are very good at preventing bees, but some would be better labeled as "bee feeders." The thing to remember is that bees and wasps compete for nectar at both flowers and feeders, and yet both seem to survive.
To stop attracting bees to your feeder you need to prevent the bees from reaching the nectar. Even with bee proof feeders you may still have a problem. When hummingbirds eat they lap, not suck up the nectar. This lapping causes a small amount of nectar to end up on the surface of the feeder near the feeder ports, and the bees will quickly find it. When you see bees on a bee proof feeder, simply wipe the surface with a wet sponge and your bees will leave.
Get your feeders ready and enjoy the show, they are magnificent little creatures and will provide you with joy all summer.
Source Wild Bird Shop
birdwatchers.com Debbie's Tips for Attracting and Feeding Hummingbirds