Hummingbirds Forever a Nature Store for Hummingbird Lovers featuring hummingbird feeders, nectar, hummingbird gifts and free tips on attracting more hummingbirds to your garden!

COMMON HUMMINGBIRD QUESTIONS

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PROBLEM: I HAVE NO HUMMINGBIRDS AT MY FEEDER!

The reasons for this problem can be numerous. Sometimes birds change their feeding habits for no apparent reason. Just be patient, and check to make sure you are doing the following:

  • Make sure you are making the hummingbird nectar correctly, according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you are making your own, make sure your nectar is one part sugar to four parts of water. Please see our additional tips on making hummingbird nectar.
  • Try to keep your hummingbird feeder in the shade or partial shade. Direct sunlight can make your nectar go bad or even ferment very quickly.
  • Keep your hummingbird feeder clean and full of fresh nectar. Be consistent! Change your nectar and clean your feeder at least every week. More often in hot weather.
  • Try adding a bright red ribbon to your feeder. Sometimes the color and movement will get their attention, especially if the feeder is a new one.
  • Place your hummingbird feeder near plants or flowers that you know they like. Sometimes they will discover your feeder as they visit a favorite flower or plant.

Picture of hummingbird nest
Hummingbirds prefer
to make their nests
in the fork of tree branches.
Jill Dobbs, one of our readers,
supplied this great picture.
(Click on picture
for a better view.)
PROBLEM: DO HUMMINGBIRDS USE A BIRD HOUSE AND IF SO, WHERE CAN I GET ONE?

Hummingbirds do not use bird houses, they are not cavity nesting birds. Instead, they prefer to make their small, cuplike nests in the fork of a tree branch. They prefer downey-like materials for their nesting like plant down, lichens, spider webs, etc.

Picture of Ant Moat
Get an ant moat!

PROBLEM: ANTS ARE GETTING INTO MY HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER

The simplest and most effective way to rid yourself of ants at the hummingbird feeder, is to use an ant moat. An ant moat is a small cup-like device that hangs between your feeder and your hook. Fill it with water, and it creates a barrier to ants! Many manufacturers also make hummingbird feeders with ant moats built in. Take a look at the HummZinger and Hummerfest models.

And here's a great suggestion from one of our visitors.....
"Just to let you know I think I have finally solved the problem of ants attacking the hummingbird feeder. The feeder is hung by a metal rod with hooks at both ends. The substance that has finally worked to keep ants from crawling to the feeder but not have a smell that will chase away the hummingbirds is a sticky substance that comes on cards designed to attract and catch whiteflies. Just roll the hanging rod into the sticky substance (which does not melt down onto the feeder in hot weather--I am in so.calif) and hang the feeder. Thanks for the enjoyable web site." Bob Langston

Picture of the HummZinger II with Nectar guard
NEW!!
The HummZinger II
with NECTAR GUARD
keeps your nectar insect FREE!!

PROBLEM: HOW DO I KEEP BEES AND WASPS AWAY FROM MY HUMMINGBIRD FEEDERS?

The best way to avoid bees is to deny them access to the syrup. The HummZinger and Hummerfest feeders are inherently bee and wasp-proof because the syrup level is too low for insects to reach, but easily in range of the shortest hummingbird tongue. If you choose not to try a new feeder and bees or wasps persist, first try moving the feeder, even just a few feet; insects are not very smart, and will assume the food source is gone forever. They may never find it in its new location, while the hummingbirds will barely notice that it was moved. If that doesn't work, take the feeder down for a day, or until you stop seeing wasps looking for it. You'll see hummingbirds looking for it, too, but they won't give up nearly as soon as the wasps.

 
PROBLEM: WHEN DO I TAKE DOWN MY HUMMINGBIRD FEEDERS FOR THE WINTER?

Contrary to popular belief, leaving your hummingbird feeders up will not interfere with hummingbird migration. All birds migrate based on hormonal changes brought on by changing daylight hours. In fact, hummingbirds can readily use the energy found at backyard hummingbird feeders as they begin their long migration journeys.

We advise taking your feeder down when you feel comfortable or wait until you no longer see hummingbirds feeding for several weeks. Usually, its safe to take your feeder down after the first frost, but use your own good judgement.

PROBLEM: WHEN SHOULD I PUT MY HUMMINGBIRD FEEDERS BACK UP FOR THE SPRING?

Many folks ask us when to put up their hummingbird feeders for spring. Many ruby throated hummingbirds start re-entering the United States in March and April, and start moving Northward. If you are in a part of the country where you take your feeder down for the winter months, we recommend the following:
…Put your feeder back up when YOU feel comfortable. If you start to see hummingbirds, get them up!
…If the spring weather starts to break for your area, get them up!
At least have your hummingbird feeders back up by March and April to attract the first returning hummingbirds to your yard first!
PSST!! Many of you living in the southwestern areas can leave your hummingbird feeders up all year!

PROBLEM: HOW CAN I CLEAN THE HARD TO REACH PLASTIC OR GLASS BOTTLE TO MY HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER?

There is a simple trick to this age old problem. Fill your bottle with a light soap or bleach solution. Add some uncooked rice to the mixture, then shake. Voila! The rice acts as friction to get all the gunk out!.

PROBLEM: HOW CAN I KEEP MY TUBE TYPE GRAVITY FED HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER FROM DRIPPING?

Tube-type gravity fed hummingbird feeders have been around for a long time and are very popular with hummingbirds because they simulate the tube shape of many nectar-bearing flowers. However, because of their design, these feeders may occasionally drip.

How to stop the dripping? There is no perfect answer - feeders will drip occasionally. However, we do have several recommendations to minimize dripping, so that you can truly enjoy your feeder:

  1. Most importantly: always fill the feeder completely full with cool nectar. Insert the stopper and invert quickly to avoid any air entering the feeder. Tube feeders operate on a vacuum principle. Only if the feeder is initially filled completely full will the vacuum form!
  2. Hang your feeder in shade or partial shade. The cooler the feeder, the less likely it is to drip. Try our PAR-A-SOL Shade!
  3. Make sure to keep the feeder very clean by regularly cleaning with hot water and a bottle brush. Try periodically using a vinegar rinse to thoroughly clean your feeder and then rinse well with hot water.
  4. Dripping too much for you? Try one of our top-feeding feeders.

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