Feeding Hummingbirds

These beautiful birds enjoy a liquid feeder. Most red flowers will invite hummers to your garden. This is a page about feeding hummingbirds.
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January 14, 2010

As the hummingbirds go south, there are a few that do stay. We love to feed them and we become their main source of food. We stop feeding them, and they perish.

With the winter freeze, we found we needed two feeders. One in the house and one at the feed place allows us to exchange them when winter nights freeze them. Then the one outside comes in and thaws and the other is now fresh and ready for meals. The hummers survive until spring when the insects return and flowers bloom.

By Harris from Troutdale, OR

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I have always made my own sugar water for my hummingbird feeders. But a friend gave me a box of powder called "Instant Nectar" is says "the bright red tone is non-toxic and harmless to hummingbirds", but I have heard that the red is harmful, can any one tell me if this is true?

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June 11, 20180 found this helpful
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Just as with many things in life, keeping it simple is best. Nectar in nature isn't red. A nectar made by adding 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of boiling water is all you need to attract and feed hummingbirds.

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Be sure to let the mixture cool before pouring it into feeders. Adding easy to grow plants such as lantana, coral bells, cypress vine and sage to your landscape can also attract hummingbirds.

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March 30, 2011

Besides sugar and water, what else can humming birds eat?

By drew from Foxfire Drive

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June 7, 20091 found this helpful
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For Marlene from Massachusetts (and anyone else who's interested): I don't use the store-bought nectar because I've read that the preservatives in it can cause a fungus infection on the hummingbirds' tongues that can interfere with feeding (as well as causing other problems). If you use a feeder that has some RED on it, you don't need to use red-tinted nectar.

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Because hummingbirds are quite territorial, there should be more than one feeder in any one place. When you collect your feeders to wash and refill them, only take down one of a pair at a time so the birds will still have a nectar source when they come to drink.

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar is very easy to make. I use a large clean applesauce jar for extra nectar and make enough to refill all 5 of the feeders I have out.

The ratio should be one part sugar to four parts water. You can make however much you want. I keep the extra in the refrigerator.

I use a 4-cup measuring cup and put 2 cups of water in it. I microwave it for about a minute (until hot) and then stir in one-half cup of white sugar until all the sugar has dissolved and the water is perfectly clear.

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I pour this into the clean jar and then make another batch, which I refrigerate once it is a little cooled-off. I use the previous batch of chilled nectar when it is time to fill the feeders.

It is VERY important to clean them properly -- do NOT use any cleaning solution, soap, or detergent, because even with careful rinsing there might be a slight residue, which WILL harm the hummingbirds --just hot water and a bottle brush. Scrub and rinse well.

I fill the feeders only half-full so that the hummingbirds will nearly empty them before the nectar might spoil, or once a week, whichever comes first.

You'll never run out of nectar when you make your own, and you'll protect the little hummies from that fungus, too.
Good luck! Nancy in NC

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Can any one tell me when to put out my hummingbird feeders in Raleigh, North Carolina?

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April 6, 20190 found this helpful

In your area, March is a good time.

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April 6, 20190 found this helpful

Late March/Early April is the usual.

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April 6, 20190 found this helpful

Here in upstate NY, Memorial Day is the rule of thumb.

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April 7, 20190 found this helpful

March/April seems to be the recommended time - so boil your water, add your sugar and get your camera ready.

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A quote from a hummer site:

Feeders can be left up year round. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are neotropical migrants that will migrate even if feeders are left up, and some individuals or other unusual hummingbird species may visit a feeder during the winter. Most ruby-throats leave North Carolina and other southern states by mid October and dont return until late March.

Here is a good site to learn about your hummers:

projects.ncsu.edu/.../humbird.html

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April 7, 20190 found this helpful

In North Carolina you can contact National Audubon Society
which aim is to "protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow" at : Audubon North Carolina 807 E. Main Street, Suite 2-220, Durham, NC 2770 by mail at lschnitzlein@audubon.org and get information from their site : nc.audubon.org/

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April 10, 2012

When are the best times during the year and during the day to put a hummingbird feeder out?

By Elliot M from Cleveland, OH

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April 18, 20120 found this helpful

I plan to put out a feeder in about two weeks and I am in east central Indiana. Leave the feeder out until at least two weeks after you see the last hummer. Leave them out all day and night, but do keep them clean and DO NOT USE food coloring.

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Hummers are curious and they will find the feeder.

Use just plain water and sugar, about 3 to 4 cups of water for each cup of sugar. Hummers like it sweeter, but this mix is better for them. You do not need to buy the mixes, but it must be real sugar as they need it for energy. There are many sites about hummers.

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October 12, 2006

Question:

I keep hearing that commercial food coloring is harmful to hummers. No one can tell me why. Is there scientific basis for this? Thank you for your time.

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This is a great question. The answer is murky. On the one hand, my own research has not turned up any scientific evidence that says commercial food coloring is harmful to hummingbirds. However, that doesn't mean that commercial food coloring is safe for hummingbirds, it just means that as far as I can tell, no one has done any formal scientific studies on the subject.

Most commercial brands of food coloring use a dye form of FD&C Red No.3. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discontinued the provision listing of FD&C Red No.3 for use in external drugs and cosmetics because one study of the color additive in male rats showed an association with thyroid tumors. When making this announcement, the FDA also indicated that any human risk posed by FD&C Red No. 3 was extremely small and that the provisional listing had been discontinued due to a specific legal mandate, rather than safety concerns. And although FD&C Red No. 3 remains permanently listed (approved) for use in food and ingested drugs, the FDA has announced its intent to propose rescinding those listings as well. Even if the FDA decides that FD&C Red No.3 remains safe for human ingestion, what's good for humans isn't always good for animals and birds.

The Audubon Society states (rather diplomatically) on their website that, "the current thinking is that food coloring may not be good for them, nor is it necessary to attract hummingbirds." Personally, this makes logical sense to me because in nature, natural flower nectar is clear, not red, and made up only of sugar and water. You can mix your own using 1/4-cup of sugar to every 1 cup of water.

The color of the red flowers (and your feeder) is enough to attract hummingbirds to the nectar. If your feeder isn't red or brightly colored, tie a bit of red ribbon to it to get the bird's attention.

Ellen

Answers

By Foxfire (Guest Post)
September 13, 20060 found this helpful

look on the back of a box for a Hummingbird feeder and it'll tell you that the red dye is poisonous to the little birds.I guess it builds up in their systems until it kills them.it's not natural anyway and the liquid they get from a flower is.

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By Margie Minard (Guest Post)
September 13, 20060 found this helpful

I have heard that food coloring, especially the red food coloring, can soften the eggs. If you have an established humming bird feeder, there is no need for food coloring. I haven't used it in years, and we have plenty of hummers all season. I just use 1/4 c sugar to 1 c water, bring it to a boil to dissolve all the sugar, cool, and keep any extra in the fridge till needed. I wash the feeder between every filling.
I will use this forum to tell you that we just saw 3 little Bob White quail out browsing with our chickens this evening!!! I am 55 and haven't seen them since I was a kid!! We were so excited.

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October 12, 20060 found this helpful

I don't find it necessary to add color to my hummingbird food, the feeder is red and attracts them. I also have plenty of flowers around that will attract them too; they absolutely love hanging baskets with Fuscia in them! I don't know if the red coloring is dangerous or not, but why take a chance?

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By missolainious (Guest Post)
October 26, 20060 found this helpful

but i dont see why you would need to give hummingbirds food colourings.....i dont understand..what does it do?

Editor's Note: People add food coloring to make it red to attact the hummingbirds.

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I've noticed that every time a hummingbird drinks, it then flies up and around the feeder to check the level of liquid. Then it flies off and comes back to drink again. Why is this?

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July 26, 20191 found this helpful

They have long, retractable tongues. It would seem they check the level first to know how much tongue they need to release.

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July 26, 20191 found this helpful

I read somewhere that the inspect food for mold, spoilage, and to be sure it is not poison and if they process it as safe and edible, they come back. If the don't come back there may be mold spores so give the feeder a good cleaning!

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July 27, 20191 found this helpful

Pandy,

I've noticed that too with some our backyard hummingbirds. I've seen when they drink *steady* for awhile at any particular feeder, an air bubble will rise up in the liquid because of how much of a drink they took at one time-and some of the hummingbirds will almost move back (hovering) looking like they're saying "what was that?" sort of body language, and some will then really take to inspecting it all around too, and some know it's going to happen when they've experienced it before so they're not phased by the bubbles they can create by drinking a lot without backing up (or coming up for air) as we say. And maybe they are looking to see if it's okay to drink.

They notice any changes too with a feeder. If a feeder has one port hole (like the tiny feeders do) and the feeder is hung back up but it's put back in the opposite direction, they get funny about it (they get nervous) actually is what we've seen.

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July 23, 2017

Making your own hummingbird feeder nectar is quite simple. This page is about hummingbird feeder recipe.

Hummingbird at a feeder.

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