A Guide to Hummingbird Feeder Upkeep and Safety

August 22, 2015

 

As a self-proclaimed bird nerd and major hummingbird fanatic, I feel inclined to spread this message about HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER SAFETY. Please do read this if you have a hummingbird feeder, and share with others who might also find this useful!

 

I just wanted to post a few guidelines on proper upkeep and use of hummingbird feeders to ensure the health and safety of our beloved neighbourhood hummers.

 

** A note before we start: MOLD = DEATH for hummingbirds.

 

All of these guidelines have to do with reducing mold risk and keeping your bird friends happy and healthy.

 

1) MAKE YOUR OWN NECTAR! Store-bought nectars have unnecessary ingredients such as food dyes and other additives that can either cause the feeder to mold, aren't healthy for the birds, or are just simply unnecessary. See the bottom of this post for the perfect nectar recipe!


2) DO NOT USE anything other than white sugar to make your nectar. This includes raw sugar, agave syrup, brown sugar, molasses, and artificial sweeteners. NEVER ever use honey, as this can actually kill hummingbirds!


3) It is very important to CLEAN your hummingbird feeder every 3 DAYS (or more often!). This includes washing all parts of the feeder with soap, water, and a scrub brush. Hummingbird feeder brushes are available for purchase online or in a specialty store if your brushes at home won't do the trick. I have attached a link at the bottom of this post for more info on cleaning.


4) There is no need to add red food colouring to your hummingbird nectar. The birds will be able to find the feeder just fine without it and it isn't the healthiest thing for them to be eating.


5) Remember that hummingbird nectar in a feeder is just a supplement to the natural diet of the birds, which is often flower nectar and insects. The very best thing you can do for hummingbirds is to plant a hummingbird-friendly garden! I have posted a link on ideas on how to get started :)

 

 

Lastly, here is a great hummingbird nectar recipe from our friends at Audubon California Kern River Preserve:

 

i) Measure one part sugar to four parts water (eg.1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water; 3/4 cup sugar to 3 cups water; 1/2 cup sugar to 2 cups of water)


ii) Stir until sugar is dissolved


iii) Bring solution to a BOIL to kill bacteria and slow spoilage - allow to cool


iv) Fill feeders just enough for A DAY OR TWO of use. Extra solution may be refrigerated if used within one week.

 

 

For more tips of hummingbird feeders, feeder problem solving, good cleaning techniques, and more, visit these awesome website resources!
- kern.audubon.org/hummer_feeding.htm (Nectar recipe and other tips)
- http://www.worldofhummingbirds.com/feedersclean.php (Cleaning tips)
- http://www.hummingbird-guide.com/hummingbird-feeder-tips.html (General tips and problem solving)
- http://www.njaudubon.org/sectionbackyardhabitat/createagarden.aspx (Hummingbird gardens)

 

 

 

Thanks for listening, and happy birdwatching!

 

Photo: Anna's Hummingbird at Feeder - Victoria, BC - August 2015
ISO 250 - F5.6 - 1/125 - 400mm

 

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