Feeding Hummingbirds is an inexpensive and a rather easy pastime. All you need for this is a bird feeder, household sugar and some water. As simple as that. Here are a few guidelines for you before you get started.
The two most important aspects to be kept in mind while selecting hummingbird feeders are 1)How large they are and 2) How easy they are to be detached and clean. In order to be a responsible bird feeder, you must keep a very vigilant eye on the cleanliness of the feeder and make sure that fresh nectar is always available to your little guests. We all live in a busy world, so choosing a feeder should only make your tasks easier. It is advised that you buy a feeder that has removable parts so as to facilitate cleaning. The importance of this feature should not be underestimated. We will look in detail on this in the maintenance section.
Hummingbirds will eat almost anything that contains nectar in it. But, the only problem for them is to find it. It is a widely accepted tip to paint the feeder in red for hummingbirds. Studies have revealed that these tiny creatures are attracted to the red colour than any other colour. So, placing a feeder in full red is practically a beacon for the birds saying “YOUR FOOD IS HERE”. In case you don’t find a feeder in red colour, don’t worry. Tying a piece of bright red band would do the trick. Once the birds discover the feeder, finding the nectar in it is a piece of cake for them. After all, it is their food, right!
In their natural habitat, hummingbirds feed on nectar from the trees for their energy and they get their proteins from the bugs. Flower nectar is made up of 21-24% sucrose – our regular sugar- So, it is very inexpensive and easy to make. But culturing the bugs is a risky and a tiring job, so I recommend you to leave it aside. Here is the recipe for making the nectar:
1) Mix 1 part of table sugar to 4 parts of water. Make sure that the sugar is cane sugar and not corn sugar or beet sugar. It is not that beet sugar is harmful for the birds, but anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that the birds prefer cane sugar to anything else. Never use honey to feed the hummingbirds. Coming to the water, Spring water is preferred, but tap water also serves the purpose.
2) After mixing the sugar and water, bring the mixture just to boil and then remove it from the heat. Stir the mixture constantly so that all the sugar dissolves evenly. Also, do not boil the mixture for too long as it may result in a thicker concoction than you might need.
3) Cover the mixture and cool it before emptying it into the storage bottle. For the storage bottle, it is recommended that you use a relatively larger bottle to store the nectar in your refrigerator and use required amounts from it in the feeder.
The best place to place the feeder would be in the shade as the nectar remains fresh and lasts longer. But, if you are ready to change the feeder often, you can hang it in the sun even. Make sure that the feeder is placed high and remotely so that cats cannot reach it. You can also try hanging it out of your window so that you can watch your tiny guests eat to their tummy’s full. Hummingbirds are very agile that they lose their fear of us slow-moving animals rather quickly. Just within a few days or a week of feeding, the birds will probably let you come right next to them and you can watch them eat.
And Finally, the most important part;
Sugar water is a very rich medium of growth for bacteria and yeasts. Yeasts might cause fermentation which is harmful to the humms. You must change the nectar frequently to make sure that these little birds are unharmed by your feeding. Atleast. In cooler temperatures I.e, below 70 degrees, we recommend changing every week and for temperatures above this, change the nectar within a gap of 3-4 days. Also, clean the feeder with hot water every time you change the nectar. In case you sense contamination, use a mild bleach solution to clean it up. But be sure to rinse it thoroughly afterwards. Once in a month, soak the entire feeder in a solution of warm water along with a mild bleach solution and rinse thoroughly. If your feeder is attracting ants, use Ant Guard to prevent them.
So, this is how you should be feeding hummingbirds. Good luck and have a nice time with your new friends.