How To Feed Hummingbirds
"When should I take down my hummingbird feeder? How much sugar should I add to the water? Should I add red dye to the water?"
Hummingbirds are great fun to watch. Put up a hummingbird feeder and see what happens!
Make your own "nectar" by adding 1 part white sugar to 4 parts of boiling water. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let the mixture cool before filling the feeder. You can store extra "nectar" in the refrigerator about as long as you can store a pitcher of Kool-Aid. Do not add any coloring. Instead, use a feeder with red plastic flowers to initially attract the hummingbirds. Or plant flowers that attract hummingbirds. Bill Thompson, in his book Bird Watching For Dummies suggests tying a red ribbon around the feeder. After they learn where your feeder is, it won't matter what color anything is!
There are dozens of styles and brands of hummingbird feeders. Ask the folks at your local bird store to help you select one that is easy to clean and that is the right size for your yard.
You MUST clean out you feeders each week or when the liquid turns cloudy. If you do not, the bacteria in the bottle could build up and harm the hummingbirds. If you would not drink out of the feeder, why would a hummingbird?
You will absolutely NOT harm a hummingbird by keeping your feeder up into the fall. They are going to migrate when they are good and ready. Your supply of food will not make them stay any later than they should. In the East, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have left by the end of September. They return in April. Out West, Anna's Hummingbirds may be present year 'round.
It seems silly to me to buy those packets of hummingbird feeder mix. They are usually just sugar and some red food coloring. (The red dye probably isn't going to hurt anything -- but it isn't going to help much either). One of the funniest things I ever saw for sale was a gallon jug of "hummingbird nectar" at a local Wal-Mart. The directions said to just add sugar! I often wonder how many gallons they sold.
This is a great web site devoted to hummingbirds: www.hummingbirds.net
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