What can you tell me about feeding Hummingbirds?
Hummingbirds feed on the nectar of plants and are important pollinators, especially
of deep-throated, tubular flowers. Nectar is a poor source of nutrients, so
hummingbirds meet their needs for protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, etc. by
preying on insects and spiders, especially when feeding young.
Hummingbirds do not spend all day flying, as the energy costs of this would be
prohibitive; the majority of their activity consists simply of sitting or perching.
Hummingbirds feed in many small meals, consuming many small invertebrates and
up to five times their own body weight in nectar each day. They spend an average of
10-15% of their time feeding and 75-80% sitting and digesting.
Hummingbirds are capable of slowing down their metabolism at night, or any other
time food is not readily available. They enter a hibernation-like state known as torpor.
During torpor, the heart rate and rate of breathing are both slowed dramatically (the
heart rate to roughly 50–180 beats per minute), reducing the need for food.
Directions for making safe hummingbird food: (In case we’re out here at the store
1.Mix 1 part sugar* with 4 parts water and bring to a boil. (Some people say this kills
bacteria but that’s silly: the bacteria happens outside, after the feeder has been put
up.) Heating the mix is a good way to make sure the sugar is thoroughly dissolved.
2.Cool and fill feeder.
3.Extra sugar water may be stored in a refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
4.Red food coloring should not be added.
*Don't use anything but white, granulated table sugar. No powdered or brown sugar,
honey, molasses, red-food coloring, artificial sweeteners or nutrients should be used.
The hummingbird feeder needs to be cleaned, and the nectar changed every 3-4
days - more often in hot weather. It helps if you can place the feeder in a shady spot.
If the food appears cloudy then it has gone bad and it's time to change it.
Every time you fill the feeder you should flush the feeder with hot tap water and if
you do this on a regular basis you shouldn’t have a problem with mold inside the
If you do see black spots inside the feeder then this is mold and you’ll need to soak it
for at least an hour in a light bleach solution (a gallon of water to ¼ cup bleach) then
scrub it out with a bottle brush. If you don’t have a brush then you can add some
sand with the solution and shake the feeder to remove the mold. Rinse well with
running water and refill. Any remaining traces of bleach will be neutralized by
reacting with the fresh syrup, and there's no need to air dry before refilling. Bleach is
both safe and effective. Don’t use harsh detergents to clean the feeder!
At least once a month, clean the feeder thoroughly with the bleach solution. Soak the
feeder in this solution for one hour, and then clean with a bottle brush.
Hummingbirds have to fatten up to nearly double normal body weight to survive the
journey south, and will appreciate your feeder more than ever up until the very
moment they leave.
You should continue to maintain at least one feeder for a week or two after seeing
the last hummer of the season. Sometimes a stray Hummer stays in the area even
after the others have gone, due to illness or injury and they would really appreciate
the ready food supply until they are well enough to leave.
So there you go. As far as we know, these are the facts about how and when to take
in your hummingbird feeder. We've checked over a dozen sources and listed all the
common data above.