Using Hummingbird Feeders
- Select a feeder with perches. These allow hummingbirds
to rest while feeding.
- If you have several feeders, place them at different
heights to avoid hummingbird confrontations.
- Fill the feeder with a solution of one part white table
sugar to four parts water. Boil the water before adding
the sugar. This will drive off chlorine and fluorine
gasses and kill any microbes. Excess solution can be
- Do not use a white sugar substitute. Honey contains
fungi that will sicken and kill hummingbirds. Taste
tests show plain white sugar is preferred over any other.
- Sugar water ferments quickly and mold appears overnight
in warm weather. If feeder is in full sunlight, assume a
temperature of at least 90 - 99°.
|If Temperature is||Clean and Refill Feeder|
| ||100°+|| ||daily|
| || 90 - 99°|| ||every two days|
| || 80 - 89°|| ||twice a week|
| || 32 - 79°|| ||at least weekly|
- Clean the feeder by soaking it in a solution of 90%
water and 10% vinegar for at least eight hours. Use a
glass jar, plate or bowl to hold the plastic parts under
water. Then rinse well. This will kill harmful microorganisms.
- Do not use any petroleum-based products such as Skin-So-Soft
or Vaseline on a feeder. Hummingbird wings will accidentally
brush against this substance and it will be ingested when
the hummingbirds are preening their feathers.
Male Black-Chinned Hummingbird early summer morning
Critter Problems and Hummingbird Feeders
- If you have a bee or wasp problem, try a saucer-shaped
feeder with no vertical solution bottle. These keep the
sugar water level below the reach of bees and wasps.
- If you have an ant problem, use a feeder
with an ant moat around the top attachment point.
Place soapy water or a commercial product such as
Tanglefoot in the bottom of the moat to snag ants.
The sides of the ant moat will keep hummingbird
- Since insects are attracted to the color yellow, choose
hummingbird feeders without yellow parts if possible.
- Keep all feeders more than 6 feet off the ground and away
from anything a cat can perch on. Hummingbirds have been
snatched by cats, frogs and even praying mantises.
- If a feeder seems to empty quickly overnight, the cause
is probably bats. Two nectar-feeding bats are found in
the desert southwest: the Mexican Long-tongued Bat and the endangered
Lesser Long-nosed Bat. They normally feed on agave,
saguaro bloom, organ pipe and cardon cacti. As adults,
they are larger than insect-feeding bats. They rely on
eyesight and do not use echolocation. Note the small ears
in the picture below.
Bats and hummingbirds are not usually harmed by sharing
a feeder with each other.
Lesser Long-nosed Bats at hummingbird feeder.
Photo by Paul Fargo.
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