The 10 Best Hummingbird Feeders
Picking The Right Hummingbird Feeder
Hummingbirds are a delight to watch, and they can bring charm to any yard. A great hummingbird feeder looks lovely on its own, and is at its best when surrounded with these unique creatures. But before you buy a hummingbird feeder, make sure you have considered two things: they require regular cleaning to prevent the buildup of bacteria or an infestation of ants or other insects, and once hummingbirds become dependent on your feeder, it will be your responsibility to consistently provide them with nectar.
That said, you can clean most feeders quickly with warm water, occasionally a bit of soap, and a few swipes with a brush. And if you select a feeder with a reservoir size suitable for the volume of birds in your area, refilling the feeder with nectar will likely only be necessary every few days. The refilling process also requires only a minute of your time.
Hummingbirds are most attracted to the color red, thus reason so many feeders feature the color so prominently (and the reason most store bought hummingbird nectars are colored red too). Choosing a red feeder -- or one with plenty of red on it -- will help you attract more birds, but it's not an imperative: the animals will smell and find the nectar within any feeder eventually, so choose a feeder that looks great in your eyes.
If you already know you have a lot of hummingbirds in the area, then consider a feeder with plenty of liquid capacity and multiple access points. Some feeders have only single feeding ports that can lead birds to compete with one another, while others have as many as ten points of access and allow more animals to dine at once.
Finally, think about how and where you will mount or hang your hummingbird feeder. If possible, don't put hanging feeders in areas prone to heavy gusts of wind. Suspending a feeder from under a deck or gazebo, or in the branches of a lush tree are all fine ideas. Some feeders can also rest on flat surfaces, such as a table or wall, though these will be more likely to attract insects or rodents.
A few hummingbird feeders can be attached to a window using suction cups, and these provide a unique opportunity to view a hummingbird up close, something people of all ages will be thrilled to do. If you take the time to install a piece of one-way reflective window film on the other side of the pane, you can observe these amazing animals up close for hours on end without disturbing them.
Homemade Hummingbird Nectar
You can buy hummingbird nectar at a local store or order it online, but it is fabulously easy and inexpensive to make the nectar yourself, and doing so will not require much more time then ordering it anyway.
As flower nectar is largely made from sucrose, aka sugar, the primary ingredient in homemade hummingbird nectar is simply sugar. Use the same basic, refined white sugar you put in your coffee or cake recipe. The other ingredient in hummingbird nectar is also easy enough to come by: it is nothing more than water.
Mix one part sugar with four parts boiling water (or a quarter cup of sugar and a cup of water, in other words) and stir until the sugar is entirely dissolved. Then just let the mixture cool down to room temperature.
Make sure to store the hummingbird nectar in a clean, sealed container. You want to avoid using any vessel that has traces of other foods in it, and keep the nectar sealed from open air; sugar water can be easily fermented by exposure to yeast, and the result (alcohol and other compounds) can be harmful to a hummingbird's delicate constitution.
Creating An Ideal Space For Hummingbirds
You can create a yard that hummingbirds will love with a few easy steps. The first step to creating a hummingbird-friendly yard is to know which types of hummingbirds live in your area. Some online research or consulting books, especially those put out by the Audubon Society, can help you learn about your local bird populations.
Almost all varieties of hummingbirds will eat from a feeder filled with nectar, so choosing and using a hummingbird feeder is a great first step to cultivating the property. These feeders are especially important during the periods when flowers are not in bloom and/or are not producing sufficient nectar. If you put more than one feeder in your yard, try to hang them out of view of one another so no single bird will try to establish dominance over both units.
Depending on the time of year and your location, a few flowering plants that hummingbirds love include the beebalm, some varieties of which are known as bergamot. Sage bushes can attract hummingbirds with their scent and their colorful flowers, and this hearty plant does well in many environments. Citrus trees not only produce fragrant flowers hummingbirds love, but can also yield tasty fruits for humans, too.
Make sure to provide plentiful water for your hummingbirds. Not only do birds need to consume water for survival, but hummingbirds also like to bathe frequently. They can do this in a traditional bird bath, but also tend to love moving water, so putting out a fountain with a content trickle or even installing misting systems are both great ideas to attract hummingbirds and keep them happy once they find your home.
Finally, make your yard hospitable to insects, too, as these make up a surprisingly large part of a hummingbird's diet. Stop the use of pesticides, as these can kill a bird's food source and harm birds directly.