Hummingbirds are beautiful little creatures and watching them flit about at our hummingbird feeder while relaxing on the patio is an enjoyable pastime for both me and the kitties. 😉 Obviously they are a little too flitty and none to willing to pose for a photo, so these adorable cartoon hummers are standing in.
More About Hummingbirds
There are over 300 species of hummingbirds and about a dozen of them can be found in the United States. Spring is hummingbird season in North America! Here in Arizona we tend to see these little guys flitting about most of the year (since they like to winter here or stop in on their way to Mexico), but for most Northern places they start to see the return of hummingbirds from their migratory winters in the late spring.
Hummingbirds are interesting critters. They have amazing eyesight and keen ears. Though they can see and hear much better than humans, they have little to no sense of smell! What attracts them to food is COLOR. Hummingbirds can even see ultraviolet light (cool huh!?) so they are quite fond of the anything bright and colorful!
Which brings us to colored nectar. Don’t waste your money on colored or powdered nectar. Though there is no scientific proof that the red dye is harmful to hummingbirds, many red dyes are petroleum based. Certain red dyes aren’t recommended for consumption by children and I don’t know about you, but I am not about to give a tiny bird anything I wouldn’t give a tiny human. More importantly colored nectar doesn’t serve a purpose. Think about it, natural flower nectar isn’t red. It’s just an expensive gimmick. This recipe for homemade nectar is just as easy as mixing up a packaged powder with water and is a fraction of the cost! You can keep your humming birds fed all season with one bag of sugar!
Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Recipe
- 1 Part Sugar
- 4 Parts Water
Boil sugar and water together for 1-2 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is no longer cloudy. Allow to cool completely before putting in your feeder. Store any extra in the refrigerator. That’s it! It doesn’t get much easier than that!
Tips for Attracting Hummingbirds
The best way to attract these teeny feathered friends is to make sure that your feeder has brightly colored accents. Most hummingbird feeders you can purchase at the store will have red accents on them. If you are worried about your feeder not being visible enough, tie a colored ribbon on it. Place it near flowers they like (if you have them). My feeder is near my red rose bushes so it’s a very popular location! You may notice that they don’t drink as much when the flowers are in bloom. That’s because they prefer natural nectar.
Cleaning your Feeder
Your hummingbird feeders need to be cleaned and nectar changed about every 3-4 days (more often in hot weather) to prevent mold. Keep an eye on your feeder and if the nectar appears white or cloudy it’s time to change it out. In the hot summer months nectar can go bad in as little as 2 days. I usually don’t fill the feeder more than half full, because they won’t be able to drink it all before it will need to be changed. Rinse out the feeder with hot water each time you change your nectar and if done on a regular basis you shouldn’t have any problem with mold growing inside the feeder.
Do a deep clean on your feeder once a month to maintain a healthy dining space for your hummers. When deep cleaning your feeder, NEVER use harsh detergent. You can use a 2:1 water + vinegar solution. Take your feeder apart and completely submerge it in the vinegar solution. Let it soak for several hours, rinse with hot water and let it dry completely before putting it back together and filling it with fresh nectar.
If your hummingbird feeder gets black mold you may need to clean it with bleach. Dilute the bleach (1/4 cup bleach to 1 gal of water) and let it soak for 1 hour. Scrub it down and rinse thoroughly with hot water.
And that’s all it takes to have happy, healthy hummers! If you are looking for something sweet for yourself after creating this sweet treat for your feathered friends, look no further than this AMAZING hummingbird cake from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
I did finally happen to snag this quick snap with my phone of a little hummer enjoying some breakfast this morning! What a little cutie, huh!? What sorts of hummingbirds like to stop by your house for a snack?
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