If you’ve never put out hummingbird feeders but are determined that this is the year, you’ve come to the right article. There are few things more charming and fascinating than watching hummingbirds hover around the classic red feeder, their tiny wings flapping more quickly than the human eye can comprehend. And the fact that hummingbirds are important pollinators in the garden is an added benefit.
Hummingbird feeders are readily available at garden centers and home improvement stores, and are easy to use, but there are a few guidelines to follow to ensure that they do their job in feeding these birds safely.
- Use several feeders, but separate them to avoid a 1-bird domination. The number of feet in between feeders seems to be less important than the line of vision. Place a second feeder around the corner so that a dominant bird at the first feeder can’t see what he’s missing out on.
- Hang feeders in the shade. Direct sun quickly ferments the sugar water in the feeders, which is unhealthy for our little friends. Look for a shaded or semi-shaded location instead.
- Make your sugar water at home. Use 4 parts hot water to 1 part white sugar (organic is preferred) and boil for 1-2 minutes. Never use honey, artificial sweeteners, or anything with red dye.
- Change the water regularly. Once or twice a week during warm weather is usually sufficient, but a visual check for water cloudiness will tell you it’s time to freshen things up.
- Clean feeders regularly. Once a week, take your feeders down and empty the old water out. Wash them with a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts water, then rinse with warm water three times. Refill with fresh sugar water and rehang in your shaded location.