Hummingbird feeder do nots
There is some misinformation and recycled data that is not accurate on Hummingbird feeders. I did a lbunch of research to get to the facts and have a simple straightforward answer for people concerned on how to feed hummingbirds the best way.
First off, 80% of a Hummingbird’s diet is bugs. SO don’t worry about saving the lives of Hummingbird’s with your nectar. Nectar is mostly a treat for them, and hummingbird feeders are a very small percentage of where they get their nectar from. If you are willing to do it right, having a feeder is a great way to make friends with the little creatures. They actually remember who feeds them and will come back over and over if they trust you and like your nectar.
Let’s jump right into the risks that hummingbird feeders have. These are listed in order:
- Spoiled nectar – Nectar can go bad fast from hot weather. When it’s about 70 degrees or hotter in the day, change your nectar every two days or.. I refrigerate it during the day to keep it out of the heat. Hummingbirds sip their nectar most of the time in the early morning and around sunset. So I put mine out an hour before sunset and throw it back in the fridge around 4-5 hours after sunrise. This keeps it fresh and can easily last a week. YES, you do need to boil the water before using it. This kills any bacteria that might harm those little suckers and helps break down the sugar.
- Bad sugar/water mixture – Keep it simple. you want 1 cup of sugar for every 4 cups of water. You can always store it in the fridge if you make extra. I use 2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of sugar for each batch and drain the little extra that won’t fit in the feeder. I use my coffee maker by removing the filter, put the sugar in the coffee pot, and just fill the reservoir with the correct water amount. Too much sugar can cause liver problems and too little will not be enjoyable for them. There is some wiggle room, but try to keep it close.
- Dirty Feeders – Sugar can easily grow bacteria that sticks to the feeder. This will contaminate new nectar that is added. It’s important to rinse your feeder out often, you can use soap as long as your rinse it really well before use.
- IRON – This is the reason so many sites say you need to use refined or granulated sugar. Granulated sugar has the lowest amount of IRON because the molasses (which has IRON) has been removed through processing. Organic, raw, and turbine, sugar all still have small amounts of molasses. But the small amount of IRON is not enough to hurt wild Hummingbirds. But with that said, why not play it safe and provide them the best option? Which is refined or granulated white sugar with no IRON or additives.
There was a 30-40 Hummingbird reserve in Arizona that had a massive die off. Very sad, but maybe they did not die in vain. The autopsy showed high levels of iron which was the only abnormality. They don’t know if it was from long term iron from the nectar they used for over five years or if it was just the recent batch that was really high in iron. Since they died at the same time, it was likely one batch with really high IRON.
5. Red dye – Hummingbird feeders are red for a reason. this attracts Hummingbirds to them. You DO NOT need red nectar to attract them and red dye has some gnarly chemicals that are not good for them.
There is some other risks like your dog eating them, but this should cover the the essentials. Good luck and hopefully you’ll make some new friends.