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Best 1”® Hummingbird Feeders – A Review
Choosing Hummer Feeders
Its Fall Hummingbird time again!
I’ve been down south this last two weeks. We visited Fulton, Port Aransas, Estero Llano Grande State Park and Quinta Mazatlan to see the Hummingbirds getting ready for their trip across the Gulf of Mexico for the winter. Quinta Mazatlan had a one day Festival September 16th. Rockport will have their big one the following weekend and closer to home, Kleb Woods Nature Preserve is also hosting a Hummingbird Event on the 19th.
I remember my first big hummer year in my backyard. I had only put up nectar feeders that spring. Three or four Ruby-throated hummingbirds visited me within a few days. It was fun watching them before they headed north. Two couples stayed around giving me a look into territory protection and ways hummers double team an alpha bird to steal a few seconds to feed; very clever little birds.
In the Fall, the ones that headed north must have told friends there was a new feeding station in Houston and every week from late August to September, I had more and more birds fly in. I think the highest total I had was 15 birds fighting over feeder space. I started out with two feeders. To mitigate the sparing fights, I added two more. When the count rose to 12, I bought two more for the front yard.
First Feeders Assembly
These first feeders were inexpensive plastic ones with glass bottles I found at the grocery store. As you see in the picture, they were a four part assembly. The bottle had a screw-on top for a sting hanger. The top of the reservoir screwed into the bottle and the reservoir itself snapped in place under the top held tight by pressure. Each port had removable brush-like attachments as bee guards.
At the end of the season, I cleaned the feeders thoroughly and stored them away until spring. The second year I used them, I started noticing a few problems.
- The hummers were apparently leaving drops of nectar in the flower cups and on the brush like attachments on the ports. Bees came running at the smell of sugar water and I had to do some quick studying to learn how to chase them off and keep the feeders clean enough to avoid that.
- Occasionally ants would get into the feeder. It didn’t happen often, but it showed that the port openings couldn’t keep them out. After I learned about ant moats, this stopped.
- Besides the ports, the snap on reservoirs for those feeders lost their strength over time and I began to have drip issues, which brought in bees and wasps. Temporarily, I did a Boy Scout repair by duct taping the top and reservoir together tightly, then gave up on them and tossed any that dripped.
- Did I mention that drippy feeders attract bees? I’m live and let live and want to protect bees as much as possible, but I also don’t want them massing in my yard. I had to call in a beekeeper twice in one year to remove bee colonies that took up residence in my house soffits. At $400 per visit to remove a colony alive, you should understand my reluctance to have that happen again.
- While these feeders weren’t terribly expensive, I dislike buying things that have to be replaced regularly. Being raised with a depression era grandmother and a mother who considered frugal a bi-law to life, I was trained to look for products with longevity.
New Designs to Consider
Hunting for a Better Mouse Trap
I was down to two feeders that where still holding nectar properly by the third year. My husband, knowing the problem, went hunting one day and brought a new feeder home as a present. It was a metal feeder that had four ports instead of six and was held together differently. As you see to the side, the bottle screwed into the reservoir, not the top. The top of the reservoir is held down by pressure and there is a gasket inside to avoid spills should the feeder get rocked. The ports were smaller and advertised as bee and ant proof. I didn’t notice right away that it didn’t have perches. I didn’t think much of it either as hummingbirds don’t perch on the flowers in my yard. I liked the decorative aspect of it and later went to find another like it.
I found one that was similar, but it only had four ports and didn’t use a gasket. There was also a larger one with a metal top, plastic reservoir and gasket seal that three ports and perches. They were both decorative and I thought it would be interesting to have different styles around the yard. I bought both figuring the two cheap ones would wear out by the end of the season and I would need the extra.
Observing Hummer Feeding Preferences
Over the spring and fall, I began to notice that the feeders with perches were being emptied faster. Apparently, hummers like to get comfortable and have a sit down meal rather than eat and run all the time. Flowers only carry so much nectar per blossom, which requires constant moving, but feeders seem like never ending nectar sources, so hummers want to land and guzzle. There was nothing wrong with the pretty ones without perches, except that the birds weren’t using them much.
Well, this bird way station is all about giving the customer what they want, so I kept my eye out for perchable feeder designs.
First Customers for the Feeder Test
A New Feeder in Town
A company in Poteet Texas started making hummer feeders back in the 1971. After trial and error, making improvements on their feeders over years; they now have the “Best-1”® Hummingbird Feeder. I don’t know why I had never heard of the company or had never seen their feeders before.
My husband and I first ran across them this week during the Quinta Mazatlan’s Hummingbird Festival. They were used in several areas around the grounds and sold with 8 oz. bottles in the gift shop. We saw them in use at Goose Island State Park and Estero Llano Grande State Park also. At all places, they had a large enough customer base to use the alternative 32 oz. bottles.
The construction is a major change from what I have been using. As you see in the pictures from their website, the ports are designed as flush small holes for the hummers to send their straw-like tongues through, keeping bees and wasps out. The kits include an insect barrier or ant moat to be attached above the feeder. The cap or reservoir top is counter sunk instead of laying over the reservoir, so no need for gaskets. The two piece reservoir is made of Hi-Impact Styrene with U.V. Stabilizer added to eliminate discoloration and is food contact safe per FDA rules. Unlike an earlier one piece design, this one makes cleaning much easier.
We bought two and put the feeders out to test. After a moment’s hesitation, getting used to the different design, the birds adapted to ports without flowers pointing the way quickly. Within half an hour we had five birds happily feeding.
Best 1"® Hummingbird Feeder, Try it Yourself
For What It’s Worth – My Opinion
Having gone through several designs of feeders looking for something that didn’t leak, won’t allow ants in and didn’t attract bees, I can say I have two out of three on this one for now. Other than dropping it or deliberately tipping it over, there doesn't seem to any worries about dripping, and ants are taken care of with the included moat. I haven’t had the feeder long enough to know if they discourage bees, but I would assume as long as I keep the outside top clean, we will be fine. The fact that there are no fake flowers involved for spills to collect on should make that easy.
I like the counter sunk lid on the reservoir. It locks down to avoid rocking spills well. If you buy the feeder in a kit, it comes with brushes to clean the bottle and a small one for the ports. Another plus is that the company sells all their products separately, so if a brush is lost, if a bottle breaks or you need a new reservoir, you can order just those things rather than a whole new outfit.
Also, from the customer’s perspective, the feeder seems to be a comfortable perch made with two close set rings around the 8 ports. This seems to be a recent improvement made for bird safety.
We have been putting flower-like constructions on feeders for so long, but as it turns out, they aren’t really needed. The hummers come by smell, not visual stimulus. In addition, those yellow flowers are said to be bee attracters. Both bees and wasps are attracted to the color yellow. Someone didn't do their research when they decorated hummingbird feeders with them. Hummingbirds are attracted to red best, the color of the reservoir housing. Wow, who would have thought?
Answer: A little company in Poteet Texas called Best Feeders Inc. building American made products with over 40 years of research in hummingbird feeder design.
Disclosure: I'm getting nothing from Best Feeders Inc. for this review. Not even a free feeder.