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Selecting a Hummingbird Feeder

Updated on May 14, 2014

Do hummingbirds have a preference for the type of feeder they drink from? I really don't know; my hummers keep coming, no matter what type of feeder I hang up. But I do know that I definitely have a preference when it comes to hummingbird feeders. After using a variety of them in the past several years, I've discovered that the perfect feeder needs two things - a wide mouth for easy filling and cleaning and a glass (not plastic) bottle for holding the food.


Selecting a Good Feeder

Too many hummingbird feeders on the market look cute, but aren't very practical. Many of these cheaper feeders have narrow openings that require you to have a very steady hand when pouring or to use a funnel if you want to avoid spilling everywhere. Cleaning them is a chore, too. It's difficult to get inside the bottle, and this discourages people from cleaning them often and well, which could lead to deadly mold and bacteria buildup.


Feeders that have bottles with wide openings, such as the More Birds Garnet Hummingbird Feeder, are much easier to use. The one I own is another More Birds feeder that is similar to what's shown on this page. The mouth on the bottle is wide enough that I can pour the hummingbird's food straight into the bottle from a large kitchen measuring cup, and when it's time for cleaning, I can easily get all areas of the container with a bottle brush. Plus, the glass doesn't discolor like some plastic feeders I've owned.


Filling Your Feeder

If you're in the market for your first hummingbird feeder, there are a few things you should know. First, don't be fooled into buying the commercial food mixes, especially those with red coloring. It's more expensive than making your own hummingbird nectar, and the food color can be dangerous for the birds.


You can make your own nectar by simply adding 1/4 cup of sugar to one cup of boiling water. (Boiling kills the bacteria and helps the food stay fresh longer.) Stir the sugar to make sure it dissolves completely, and then allow the water to cool before filling the feeder.


Cleaning Your Feeder

Sugar ferments and can create mold that can deadly to hummingbirds. So make sure you change the water in your hummingbird feeder every two to three days during cool weather and daily in very hot weather. Each time you change the feeding solution, be sure to clean the feeder carefully with vinegar and water. This will kill the bacteria without adding any soap or chemical water that could be dangerous for your hummers.


When to Stop Feeding

In most parts of the country, hummingbirds won't stay year-round. They'll typically migrate from an area when the insect population declines and the days grow shorter, so if you don't see any hummingbirds for more than a week, it's probably a sign that they've migrated. Some birds, however, will stay if they have a food source, and in some areas, such as California, many hummingbirds don't migrate at all. In this case, be sure to keep feeding your hummers because their natural food sources are less abundant during the winter. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers a great pdf file that can provide more information about feeding hummingbirds, including what to do when it's time for the hummers to migrate.


Have Fun with Your Hummingbird Feeder!

Hummingbirds are amazing little creatures, and they're fun to watch. We have a feeder outside the window by our dinner table, and our family often enjoys watching the hummers eat as we enjoy our meal. If you keep your hummingbird feeders clean and filled, you, too, will have many hours of enjoyment from watching these amazing animals.



More Hummingbird Feeders to Consider

Be sure to choose one that's easy to fill and clean. You'll need to change the contents often to keep your hummers healthy and happy.

Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Feeders with a perch give the hummingbird a place to rest while feeding and give you a chance to see these beautiful little creatures sitting still.Even when given the option to perch, some birds prefer to show off their hovering skills.Hummingbirds are fast! You'll need a quick eye to watch them zoom in to your feeder.If you watch closely, you may be able to follow your hummers from the feeder and see where they spend time when they're not feeding.
Feeders with a perch give the hummingbird a place to rest while feeding and give you a chance to see these beautiful little creatures sitting still.
Feeders with a perch give the hummingbird a place to rest while feeding and give you a chance to see these beautiful little creatures sitting still.
Even when given the option to perch, some birds prefer to show off their hovering skills.
Even when given the option to perch, some birds prefer to show off their hovering skills.
Hummingbirds are fast! You'll need a quick eye to watch them zoom in to your feeder.
Hummingbirds are fast! You'll need a quick eye to watch them zoom in to your feeder.
If you watch closely, you may be able to follow your hummers from the feeder and see where they spend time when they're not feeding.
If you watch closely, you may be able to follow your hummers from the feeder and see where they spend time when they're not feeding.

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    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 3 years ago from Johanesburg

      Nice lens ,thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      DebMartin 3 years ago

      Love the hummers. And some great tips here. Your link to the Bird Notes document is great. Here are a couple of other hints. Don't add more than the recommended sugar. Too much sugar will cause problems for the young hummingbirds. Their growing beaks will be deformed. Also, if you live in a northern climate where temps drop significantly in the fall, stop feeding when it's time for them to migrate even if they are still hanging around.

    • miriamyentraccm profile image

      Miriam Parker 3 years ago from Montclair, CA. 91763

      Very nice! Now I know a lot more about hummingbird feeders, thanks!

    • GrowthSpark profile image

      GrowthSpark 3 years ago

      Great lens with some really practical tips on hummingbird feeders. So glad you mentioned the importance of cleaning the feeder as a lot of people don't seem to think of that. I used to have them all year round in California, but now live in the UK where we don't have them at all sadly :(

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 3 years ago

      I have a beautiful glass feeder that I gave Mom for Mother's Day one year. It is a bit of a pain to fill but it's worth it. But, good advice.

    • calconcrete profile image

      calconcrete 3 years ago

      I've used a glass feeder for years. It's a 1 liter IV bottle hung by a wire bail and has a traditional red plastic feeding station. (Don't remember where I got it since it has been so long.) Unfortunately the bottle neck is somewhat small but a bottle brush works fine to clean it.

      I also use home-made nectar. The 1 liter feeder is actually too large so I only fill it about 1/3 full to keep it fresh. My hummers LOVE it. I've seen up to 6 at a time trying to get to the 4 feeding ports.

      Patrick

      California

    • kimbesa2 profile image

      kimbesa 3 years ago from USA

      Thanks! You answered all my questions! Just getting started with feeding the hummers this year. It's still cool, but I think I'll put out a feeder for a few days and see if any show up. The goldfinches are around, and a bluebird as well.

    • Vickie Moses profile image

      Vickie Moses 3 years ago

      I just love hummingbirds! They are so delicate and cute. I like your feeder tips.

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 3 years ago from Washington State

      My earth day present was a new hummingbird feeder. A smaller, easier to fill one. I enjoy sitting on a log by wild rose bushes waiting for them to sing and hum by as they dart into the nectar. Nothing finer though than watching them come feed closer to my window with a feeder like in your review.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Really great information, needed by those who have hummingbird feeders. I never knew the food coloring could be harmful, and I'm sure others didn't know it. Also the careful cleaning tips you give are right on the mark. Thanks for sharing.

    • bead at home mom profile image

      Teri Hansen 3 years ago

      We love watching the hummingbirds every year. These are the exact feeders we use as well and we do make our own nectar as well. Great pics love watching these little gifts from nature. congrats on LOTD!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      Congratulations on winning the LOTD, lisadh! Great hummingbird feeder lens!

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      Love hummingbirds -- especially get a kick out how they pick on each other if a couple of them are eating at the same time. Congrats on LotD.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 3 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! I love hummingbirds and wish I could put my feeder up, unfortunately my cat likes the hummers as too...every year when I'm sitting outside on the deck reading, a hummingbird will fly to the side of my face and just hover there...so weird!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Congratulations on LOTD :)

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 3 years ago

      The birds asked me to thank you for telling people to avoid commercial hummingbird "foods."

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 3 years ago from Naperville, IL

      Excellent tips! I make my own hummingbird nectar too. I have some hummingbird-magnet plants to attract them to the yard such as mandevilla and lungwort.

    • profile image

      anshulgupta 3 years ago

      awesome tips and review..

    • profile image

      jennabeezer 3 years ago

      I've found that "our" hummingbirds prefer to rest while they feed. We have one feeder that requires them to hover, and that one gets neglected quite often while the feeder with the "foot-rest" usually has a line of waiting birds. :) Nice lens!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      A friend of mine has this down to a science making her own nectar. She has the corner in the neighborhood for these lovely birds. They are something to watch.

    • WedgeAntilles profile image

      Wedge Antilles 3 years ago from Mount Vernon, WA

      Thank you for such an informative Lens: when I loved in Phoenix, AZ, I always enjoyed watching the hummingbirds flit from flowers to flowers - feeders to feeders. My roommate and I recently moved from Boston to WA state - at our old place, we did not have any place to put any kind of bird feed muchless a hummingbird feeder. Now, at our new place we have a balcony and would like to hang a hummingbird feeder and now we can.

      We also have two indoor cats that enjoy lying in front of the sliding glass door and just watching the day and birds go by and I think that a hanging feeder would make for great watching entertainment for them. Again, thank you, I enjoyed reading your Lens.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 3 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I love watching hummingbirds and I'm off to the store today to buy a new feeder, so you see your lens was very timely for me. Thanks for the advice and congrats on the LOTD.

    • inkedwriter lm profile image

      inkedwriter lm 3 years ago

      Great info....congrats on LOTD

    • TerriCarr profile image

      TerriCarr 3 years ago

      Great photos! Did you take them yourself? I don't have any bird feeders at all. Maybe I will add some. Looks like this kind of feeder would be totally frustrating to a squirrel.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Lovely photos and a great lens. Congrats on Lens of the Day! I agree, glass only for the feeders! I didn't realize the liquid needed to be changed so often. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Terrific ideas. Congratulations on getting LotD!

    • paulahite profile image

      Paula Hite 3 years ago from Virginia

      I love having Hummers in the summer! I shared your lens on our G+ page today!

      https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/10593843672309975630...

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      Stopping back by to celebrate your LotD. Congrats! My hummers are back! They arrived Easter weekend just like last spring. I started with one feeder, but have already had to add a second one. By May, I will need six feeders. They may be small, but they sure have healthy appetites.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Thanks for the tips! I have a hand-blown glass feeder that the hummingbirds love, but I want another one so now I know what features to look for. Congratulations on your timely Lens of the Day!

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 3 years ago from Concord VA

      Thanks for this great review. Congratulations on LotD!

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Nice review I agree that glass makes them much easier to keep clean. Well deserved LOTD.

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 3 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Great review and congrats on LOTD!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      I'm with you when it comes to glass feeders and avoiding commercial nectar. My hummers have finally left for the season. It amazes me that they arrive when it is still snowing here (March-April) and leave only after it has snowed once more (late Sept.- mid Oct.). I already miss them dearly. I own the oasis feeder pictured here, as well as several of the larger glass feeders similar to yours. Enjoyed your hummer photos. Thanks for the review.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great tips on choosing and maintaining a hummingbird feeder!