Among the many popular backyard birds, none attract quite as much attention or adoration as the colorful hummingbird. From its diminutive size to its rapid, eye-catching movement, there is something about these little jewels that make them charming to watch. Adding plants and hummingbird feeders are two easy ways to attract more of these birds to your yard, regardless of where you live in the country. However, since most species migrate, there is a specific seasonal window for your area. Since you need to keep these feeders clean, knowing when to put them out and take them up will reduce the workload and maximize your bird sightings.
For best viewing, it’s fine to place a hummingbird feeder near a window as long as you place decals on the glass to deter strikes against the reflective surface. Some feeders attach directly to a window, but placing the feeder a few feet away from a tree branch or post generally offers a better view. Try to keep the feeder out of the direct sun when possible to slow spoilage between changes. Since you’ll need to refill and clean the feeder regularly, don’t place it somewhere you need a ladder to reach. Watch out for swooping territorial birds and keep the feeders high enough that ground predators like house cats can’t reach the visitors.
Pre-mixed hummingbird nectar quickly becomes expensive when you change out the feeders as often as recommended. Consider making DIY nectar instead of spending dozens of dollars a month just to attract more hummingbirds. According to recommendations from sources like the Smithsonian National Zoo, all you need is plain granulated white sugar and water. The recipe is:
Simply mix until the sugar is all dissolved. Don’t add red dye, herbal extracts, or any colorings or additives in general. Hummingbirds don’t need them, even if they’re included in commercial products you find at the store. The healthiest mix mimics the nectar found in flowers that’s purely a combination of sugar and water. Brown sugar or sugar substitutes aren’t safe for hummingbirds either because they can affect their liver or encourage fungal infections. Stick to granulated white sugar even if you don’t personally include it in your diet.
A dirty hummingbird feeder full of mold and spoiled nectar is more dangerous to the hummingbirds than no feeder at all. Hummingbirds can’t always tell they’re drinking bad nectar, resulting in illness that can wipe out most or all of the birds that visit your feeder. If you can’t commit to changing the nectar at least every other day, take the feeder down and only hang it for a day at a time. Sugar water is fine to store in the refrigerator in a separate container, but the feeder should only contain what you expect the birds to consume in 48 hours. Don’t fill it to the top unless you’re sure you are feeding a whole crowd. Fungal infections are very harmful to hummingbirds and are hard to detect in a feeder, so clean it thoroughly between nectar changes to prevent illness issues.
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