Hummingbird Food

Some Practical Advice About Hummingbird Food And How To Use Feeders


Hummingbird food consists of only 10 percent solid, and 90% liquid food, the nectar from tubular flower, or backyard feeders. Their solid food is pollen and insects.  These fascinating creatures have long slender bills, with forked tongues that work to scoop out the nectar from flowers or feeders.  They can sip nectar up to thirteen times per second.

Providing hummingbird food is helpful to these animals, and enjoyable for you and your family.  The birds need the nourishment provided by feeders people hang in their yards.  At the same time you get a virtually year round nature show - they come in brilliant emerald, ruby, yellow and other colors, and their grace and delicate nature is beautiful to observe.

To make hummingbird food, first boil water. Mix ¼ cup sugar with each cup of water.  Do not use honey, sugar substitutes or food coloring. These will ferment or cause spoilage.

Before filling the glass container, clean it with a mixture of 1 part white vinegar and 4 parts water. If it is very dirty, add grains of rice to the mixture. Shake vigorously.  Wash thoroughly 3 times with clear warm water before filling. 

Fill the feeder.  Let any leftover liquid cool, then store in the refrigerator.

Hang your feeder in a shady area, to prevent fermentation.  Better yet, use several small feeders.  Place them far enough apart so the birds cannot see each other. This allows more hummingbirds to access the food at the same time. It prevents one bird from dominating the others. Change water every one to two weeks, or if cloudy.  Clean as stated above, each time the food is changed.

The birds need to gain twice their body weight in the fall before migration, so this is a particularly good time to place out feeders, but all year long they will benefit from the feeders.

There is some misinformation that using feeders will prevent hummingbirds from migrating - that is untrue.

In addition to providing hummingbird food you can plant their favorite flowers to feed on.  The Audubon Society lists the flowing as hummers’ favorites:

  1. Tasmanian tiger spurge, USDA zones 6 to 9, this plant is bright and beautiful and has a glowing look even in the dark
  2. Penstemon - zones vary, includes zone 3 to 8, and some others
  3. Evening Primrose - zones 4 to 8
  4. Blue pincushion flower - zones 5 to 9

Other things you can do to create a good hummingbird environment in your yard:

  1. Create a bird bath and provide drinking water
  2. Hummers love sprinklers so if you have a mist going they love it.
  3. For nest building spots, will trees and eucalyptus tress are favored
  4. Have some available next building materials near these trees, such as a pile of leaf compost, mosses and lichen
  5. Since these guys need to feed about 3 times an hour, you can add other tubular flowers.  Keep in mind that bright colors attract them (hence you always see red feeders) but they don’t have any sense of smell.  Some good tubular flowers are nasturtiums and petunias.

You can start to attract hummingbirds right away by placing out your first feeder.  Just follow the easy steps for making food and you’ll have a hummingbird retreat right in your own yard.  Enjoy!




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