How to feed hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are magical little birds. We see them occasionally around the farm, and the farm came with several hummingbird feeders that are tucked away in the driveshed, but we’ve never filled them. I feel like it may be time to change that given Sarah’s experience with her hummingbirds in Illinois.

Like Julia, I like to take care of the birds that stop by in our yard. However, I tend to cater to the hummingbirds. I am guessing I got my love of hummingbirds from my Grandma. She loves all kinds of birds especially hummingbirds and has all kinds of bird feeders in her yard.

She has always told me little facts about hummingbirds, such as did you know when a hummingbird travels south for the winter it flies across the Gulf of Mexico? That’s over 500 miles non-stop. It is also thought that a hummingbird may travel the same route each year. So the hummingbirds you see in your yard could very well be the same ones that visited last year.

The most common hummingbird I see at our house is the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.

The females are light greenish/grayish and white.

And the males are green with a bright red throat.

You can buy pre-made hummingbird nectar but I much rather make my own. It is easy to make and I know there are no chemicals in it.

Hummingbird Nectar

4 parts water
1 part white sugar

Boil water and sugar until just dissolved then let cool.

That it. It’s so simple. I usually make about two quarts (8 cups water and 2 cups sugar) at a time and put the extra in the refrigerator. Having it ready to go makes it really easy to refill when needed (which right now is daily).

It has been tradition for a long time to add red food colouring to the syrup. This is not needed and usually not recommended because there is some concern that the food colouring is unsafe for the hummingbirds. Most hummingbird feeders have red on them anyway, and I never have any problem with my hummingbirds finding my feeders with clear syrup.

I try to put my feeder out around the middle of April. I have kept track the past two years of when I spot my first hummingbird of the season. In 2016 it was April 25 and this year it was May 3. So I try to make sure I have food ready for them when they get here.

I leave the feeders out until the first chance of the syrup freezing. I have read that occasionally a bird will be injured or sick and stay behind a little longer than the others so it is a good idea to leave some food out for them.

That is all it takes to just sit back and enjoy them. They are really active around 7am at my house but by far the best time to watch them is from 7-8pm. They put on quite a show fighting over the feeder. Then just about dark they quiet down and head, I assume, back to their nests.

What type of birds do you feed? Do you have any hummingbirds at your house? Have you seen any other hummingbirds than the Ruby-Throated?

Those are amazing pictures, Sarah. We used to have a huge Rose of Sharon that attracted all kinds of hummingbirds. I think they were mostly Ruby-Throated, if I’m remembering accurately. It died a few winters ago, and we haven’t seen as many hummingbirds since. I feel like I should put up a few feeders, and they might come back.

8 thoughts on “How to feed hummingbirds

  1. Great to read that hummingbirds are attracted to Rose of Sharon – I planted two tiny ones last year – hope they bloom this year! Last year I noticed them buzzing around tall Zinnia.

    • I did a Google Image search on those just now, the broad tailed looks much like a ruby throated but maybe a little “fluffier” if a hummingbird could be considered “fluffy” 😉 The black chinned is beautiful! I love the purple bib!!

      • Not knowing them in Central Europe where I grew up, they are all exotic for me, and I can never get over the fact that they visit our feeder now. Their beauty and physiology blow my mind. Thank you for reminding me of that.

  2. These are gorgeous pictures! Thank you for the idea of making two quarts at once. We’ve been making just enough to fill our feeder, then it’s just too easy to procrastinate, but the nectar needs to be changed frequently or it can mold and it can kill them. 😦
    My stepdaughter found a nest in our yard by following them one day, and we’ve had nests, eggs and babies for three years in a row. I’m going to try and attach some pictures we took of them.

    Here’s an interesting factoid to add to your collection: They use spider silk in the weaving of their tiny nests, so as the babies grow, the nests can stretch. You can see how the babies really do stretch the nests in the pictures. Those pictures are from different batches over three years.
    If that link only takes you to one picture, let me know and I’ll put up a couple more. As far as I could tell, the links were all the same though.

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