HOW TO CARE FOR HUMMINGBIRD FEEDERS
(Please don't kill with kindness)
Proper care of Hummingbird feeders takes a significant commitment on your part that needs to be considered before you start. Please note: Not following these instructions you could be responsible for giving Hummers a serious and deadly fungus infection. The painful fungus condition causes the tongue to swell making it impossible for the Hummers to eat. Ultimately they die of starvation, a slow and painful death. Please do it right or don't do it at all.
WHAT DO HUMMINGBIRDS EAT - Hummers diet consists of small soft body insects (aphids, gnats, small spiders, small fruit flies that feed on rotten fruit etc.) and nectar from flowers, which is mostly sucrose. When you put up a feeder you are providing them an easy access to only the sucrose part of their diet. This may be very important when flower nectar food sources are in short supply.
SELECTION OF FEEDER - Purchase a feeder that has no hidden areas. Be sure all the inside surfaces can be reached and cleaned with a bottle brush (this will eliminate many types of feeders).
FEEDER FOOD - Sugar water as below:
One (1) Part White Sugar
Four (4) Parts Boiling Water
COOL to Room Temperature then fill feeder.
(Be sure that you end up with one to four ratio allowing for evaporation.)
The above ratio approximates the sugar to water ratio present in the nectar of Hummingbird flowers. Too much sugar is hard on liver and kidneys. Too little sugar will not provide the needed calories and may cause them to lose interest in your feeder.
DO NOT USE -
- Red dye
- Commercial Hummingbird food
- Honey (is a deadly fungus grower)
- Artificial sweeteners (doesn't provide required calories)
- Anything other than the one to four sugar water mixture described above
HANGING THE FEEDER - You can use a piece of coat hanger to hang the feeder. Apply Vaseline to the hanger if you have an ant problem. Hang the feeder in the shade where the Hummers are safe from cats.
MAINTAIN FEEDER CLEANLINESS - You will need to wash the feeder out in very hot water every two (2) to three (3) days. Use a bottle brush to scrub all surfaces then rinse well. In hot weather above 60 deg F, do not leave the feeder up more than two days (depending on your conditions, temperature water etc. you may need to clean it sooner). Hummers put their tongues into the feeder to drink and sugar water is a good medium for the growth of pathogens. If you see any mold in the feeder or the mixture becomes cloudy, then it was too long (you blew it). Remember, if it is not clean enough for you to drink from your feeder, then it is not fit for these delicate little Hummers. Proper maintenance of feeders needs to be stronglv emphasized. A woman who rescues and rehabilitates hundreds of hummers each year says that 10% or more of those she receives have fungus infections from improperly maintained feeders. These include sick adults or the sick babies of dead, or about to die, mother Hummingbirds. Unfortunately they do not all make it (because of their diet, treatment of candidiasis in Hummers is extremely difficult).
FLOWERS - You can get Hummingbird flowers and/or the seed mixtures from your nursery. Always consider the cat problem and hang where cats can't pick off the Hummers (they get very good at doing that). Here are a few sites with info about Hummingbird gardens: