How to Steal your Neighbors’ hummingbirds:
If hummingbirds have never been fed in your yard, don’t worry.
You can easily get their attention with what attracts them naturally - flowers!
It’s as easy as buying a beautiful hanging planter and hanging your hummingbird feeder close to it. A double shepherd’s hook is perfect for this. They’ll see those flowers a long way off, like a bright, 'EAT HERE' billboard, only prettier. They'll zero in on the flowers and, with the feeder hanging next to the flowers, they'll predictably give the feeder a try. You can then gradually move the feeder for better viewing, if necessary.
Which flowers? Hummingbirds are looking for flowers that have nectar - preferably trumpet-shaped but not always. Your local nursery can best advise you which flowers will attract hummingbirds, and thrive, in your yard.
If you’ve got perennials that hummingbirds like, a hanging planter of annuals is a great supplement when nothing is blooming. For more information about flowers hummingbirds like, this Spring we'll go right to an experienced grower and find out which flowers seem to work best. See our future blog, ATTRACTING HUMMINGBIRDS.
Hummingbirds return to the same yard, and feeders, every year. They know your feeder. When you hang out a new, different feeder, YOU know it's a hummingbird feeder but your hummingbirds don't know that it's anything more than new yard decoration. To switch your hummingbirds to a new feeder, use the tried and true “Bait & Switch” technique...
Hang your old feeder, in it's original location. BUT... make sure it's completely EMPTY! Then, hang your new feeder next to it, FULL of fresh nectar. This way, your hummingbirds, seeing their old, familiar feeder, will not fail to stop at your yard. But, finding that feeder empty, they predictably start checking around for another food source. This works very well because it's actually the way they naturally feed from flowers. Each bloom only has a little nectar each day so, when they finish one bloom, they move to the bloom next to it. When they finish with one plant, they start on the plant next to it. Be patient! Most hummingbirds switch in a day or two but some can take a week or more. You may notice that the males tend to be slower to switch. Hm...
NOTE: For the first of the season, it's a good idea to put out your old feeder, filled with nectar until you think all of your hummingbirds are back - or until dependably warmish weather. Their migration is very difficult and you'll want them to have a couple days to bulk up again. Then go ahead with the Bait & Switch.
We'll have more in depth details about switching in a future blog post, Switching to a New or Different Feeder.
Make sure their source of food is clean. If you have a feeder made of regular, porous plastic, it's very difficult to get it truly clean because porous plastic absorbs crud & odors. It also absorbs soap so you shouldn't use it. Our feeder is non-porous, plus the special, super hard plastic cleans up in seconds like a non-stick pan. It's also OK to use dish soap because it won't absorb it. (But always avoid heavily scented soaps)
Another secret to keeping them happy is to use pure CANE sugar. There's more information about different sugars and commercial nectars in our future blog: What's the Best Nectar to Feed Hummingbirds.
Make sure their food source is free of danger.
You've probably noticed that wasps are more aggressive than hummingbirds and actually will send out a ‘hit wasp’ to chase away any hummingbird who tries to feed. Before you know it, your hummingbird feeder is just a wasp feeder. You get disgusted and take it down. Up or down, the hummingbirds have lost a crucial food source.
The raised feeding ports on our feeders discourage wasps so well that they give up after a minute or so. With our feeder, most people find they get one, single 'scout' wasp every now and then. It checks out the feeder and, finding nothing it can access, it leaves. That little scout hasn’t found anything to protect so it doesn’t even chase away the hummingbirds.
THOSE AMAZING ANTS...
Dead/drown ants are, well... dead bodies. And they pollute the nectar fast. Hummingbirds don't want to, and shouldn't, drink polluted nectar. The large, built-in 'ant moat' on our feeder works like a charm because ants don't want to cross water.
If you're finding ants in your feeder, and you’ve kept the ant moat filled with water, you’ll most likely find one of these situations...
- There’s a leaf, twig, or something within a half inch of some part of the feeder. Ants don’t need a solid bridge. They can cross a small gap using each other as a bridge. It’s crazy. They’ll probably inherit the Earth.
- You’ve got the feeder hanging in a tree. Ants will drop onto your feeder from tree branches, bypassing the ant moat. Really.
- Your neighbor is sneaking over and putting ants in your feeder so they can get back the hummingbirds you stole with your new feeder.
Why CLEAN Water in the Ant Moat??
Hummingbirds will sometimes drink out of it. Also, ants can cross water if it’s got debris floating in it. Who would have thought they'd use rafts??!? If you think that's amazing, check out this video of the "Ant Bridge". Be sitting down.
The above video shows why you don't want to locate your hummingbird feeder anywhere near anything an ant can access. It's also why our feeders have a large, built-in ant moat.
In addition to the above tips...
- Put your feeder(s) out early enough. The map shows prior years' first sightings: http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html. For the current year, avoid guessing with this map of first-sightings, as they head north, so you can have your feeder waiting for them. https://maps.journeynorth.org/map/?year=2019&map=hummingbird-ruby-throated-first
- Keep your feeder clean and the nectar fresh.
- Be consistent. Hummingbirds, and their babies, return to the same yard and feeder every year.
There are several factors that decrease numbers of hummingbirds like storms during migration and late cold snaps. For more information about this, and increasing your hummingbird numbers check out our future blog: How do YOU get More Hummingbirds. Also, Why do Some People have More Hummingbirds than Others? And Why You may have had Fewer Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds last Year.
Hummingbirds like safety. If possible, locate your feeder in an area with shrubs or trees nearby so they can rest while watching the feeder. It's a good place for them to make sure the coast is clear to your feeder before zooming in. They like pine trees but also other trees, shrubs or foliage. All are better than a wide open area. Shrubs and trees also provide nesting places.
Shade is better for keeping nectar fresh. In some areas, the nectar can actually get too hot from the sun. (Not something we, in Michigan, worry about very much)
You'll find that they'll use your feeder more often if there are trees or shrubs nearby.
For more information about strategically locating your feeder, check our future blog What are the Best Locations for Hummingbird Feeders?
Flowers attract hummingbirds. But there are other things hummingbirds need like nest locations, nesting material, and a little shelter. More info about these can be found in our upcoming blogs, "Provide Nesting Material and Locations for your Hummingbirds" and "Attracting Hummingbirds with Flowers",
Hummingbirds also like ponds, fountains, sprinklers for drinking and bathing but water also attract bugs... their other favorite food! We go into more specifics in our upcoming blog, "Hummingbirds Like Water"
If you'd like to encourage hummingbirds to nest in your yard, check out our blog Provide Nesting Material and Locations for Your Hummingbirds.
Since you've made it this far into this website, we'll assume that this feeder is just what you've been looking for.
Now you just need to determine which size and style will best suit you and your hummingbirds.
If you're feeding less than a dozen hummingbirds... OR you'll be feeding hummingbirds for the first time in your yard, we recommend the Lil Sweety feeder. It's our most popular feeder. It's a normal size feeder and is the perfect size for most people. If you have bullying problems, More feeders are better than one, large feeder. If you have a bully, you're not going to convince him to share.
If you're feeding dozens of hummingbirds... and are refilling your feeders every day, or every other day, the larger Hum Sweet Hum feeder may be right for you.
It's important to understand that a bigger feeder will not get you more hummingbirds. It simply accommodates those people who already are feeding dozens of hummingbirds.
If you don't have a place to hang a feeder... our Suction Cup Window Hanger can bring the hummingbirds right up to the window. Handy if you're really near-sighted.
If you want a feeder right IN the garden...The Garden Pole Mount set is a beautiful addition to any garden, yard or patio. You can put it right in the garden, among your flowers OR on a stand on a deck or patio. Anywhere there's a vertical 1" pole or post.
You'll want to attract hummingbirds with flowers and feed them with a feeder. Flowers of all colors attract hummingbirds, especially trumpet-shaped flowers and flowers with nectar. Locate the feeder near the flowers they like and they'll predictably investigate the feeder. Next to the flowers works great. We've got some really interesting information about hummingbirds and the color red in our upcoming blog "Are Hummingbirds Really Only Attracted to Red?"
Yep. Hummingbirds' tongues are twice as long as their beaks. Crazy, eh? So they have no trouble reaching way farther than the bottom of this feeder. And, without dead ants polluting the nectar, don't be surprised if your hummingbirds dry up your feeder.
Hummingbirds are creatures of habit. In order to motivate your hummingbirds to try a new feeder, use the tried & true "Bait & Switch". In order to survive, when hummingbirds find a dependable food source, they stay with it. This is why hummingbirds return to the same yard, and feeder, every year. They remember the location, and appearance, of your old feeder. Keep in mind that it may be the only feeder your hummingbirds have known. When we hang a new and different feeder out, WE know it's a hummingbird feeder but they have no idea that it's anything more than a new yard decoration. So... we use the Bait & Switch method to get them to explore for another food source.
Here's how it works: Hang your old feeder, in it's original location BUT... make sure it's completely EMPTY! Then, hang your new feeder NEXT to it, FULL of fresh, homemade nectar. This way, your hummingbirds, seeing their old, familiar feeder, will not fail to stop at your yard. But, finding that feeder empty, they predictably start checking around for another food source. This works very well because it's actually the way they naturally feed from flowers. Each bloom only has a little nectar each day so, when they finish one bloom, they move to the flower next to it. When they finish with one plant, they start on the plant next to it. So, when they find their old feeder empty, they move to the 'flower' (which is your new feeder) next to it.
Many people incorrectly assume that, because their hummingbirds won't try the new feeder, that they don't 'like' it. It's simply that they don't need to investigate anything else as long as the old feeders are full of nectar - as clearly shown in this video...
Every hummingbird flock has different tolerances and some may take more than a week so be patient. But, truly, almost all of them switch in less than a couple days.
IMPORTANT: When you watch them make the switch, don't worry if you see them try this new feeder briefly then fly away. This is because the feeder they've been using had the nectar right up to the holes so they didn't need to stick out their tongue at all. Just give your hummers a little time to figure out that they'll need to stick out their tongue to get the nectar. That distance keeps out the wasps so it's a good thing. Anyway, it's the natural way that hummingbirds feed from many flowers, especially the large, deep ones. If you're really watching close, you may notice that the males are slower to make the switch. Makes one wonder...
In addition to all of the bugs they eat, the answer is pure CANE sugar and water. "Pure granulated sugar" is normally made from sugar beets. Beet sugar is a little less pure, and sweet, than beet sugar plus it has a slight odor. Hummingbirds seem to know the difference. It also doesn't seem to stay fresh as long as cane sugar.
Some people worry that 'refined' sugar is bad for hummingbirds, like we're told it is for humans. On the contrary, it's actually just what they need. Never use "raw" sugar or any sugar with a brownish tint. The brown tint is molasses residue. Molasses is high in iron and iron is very bad for birds. Plus, that molasses residue causes the nectar to go bad very fast and makes a science project in your feeder. Is your well water high in iron? You may want to consider spring or, better yet, distilled water.
If some is good, is more better? Only when you're talking about money. When you're talking about sugar in hummingbird nectar, the answer is a big, fat NO. We go into more detail about this in our upcoming blog "What's the Best Nectar to Feed Hummingbirds?"
What about commercial, 'store-bought' hummingbird nectar??
IF you can find some without preservatives or artificial color... go ahead and use it. But making it yourself is super easy and many customers tell us that their hummers prefer homemade to the commercial nectars. Ask yourself... do you prefer homemade to fast food?
Never ever use honey and, obviously, never use artificial sweeteners.
Lastly, never ever use artificial food color in the nectar! Aside from being completely unnecessary, it's VERY bad for hummingbirds. We mean REALLY bad. Spread the word.
Again, we go in to interesting details about different nectar choices in our upcoming blog "What's the Best Nectar to Feed Hummingbirds?"
Our instructions say the nectar should be changed every 3 to 4 days. This insures fresh nectar for your birds. If the nectar is allowed to go bad by leaving it in the feeder too long, the birds will taste it and likely go look for a better food source, like maybe the neighbors.
There are several factors that cause nectar to go 'bad' faster. Number one on that list is locating the feeder so it's in the hot sun all day. Also, the type of sugar. See the question, "What is the Best Hummingbird Food?", above this one.
Again, those sugars like "Raw", Organic or other brown-ish sugars will make a mess in your feeder... then they're off to the neighbors again.
NEVER EVER add artificial food coloring to the nectar! And NEVER EVER use commercial nectar with artificial coloring. It's very bad for hummingbirds!! (Hopefully we're wearing you down until you throw out the food coloring)
Unless you're refilling every, or every other, day, it's a good idea to wash it each time you fill it. You'll find washing this feeder is practically effortless and only takes a few seconds. Even though this feeder is dishwasher safe, you may find that you can get it cleaner washing it by hand, and WAY faster, than the dishwasher that takes, what... an hour??
You can use a vinegar & water mixture or dish soap. If you use dish soap, be sure to rinse WELL with COLD water. Cold water rinses soap best. Also, heavily scented dish soaps can leave scent on the feeder. It may smell nice to you but it won't to hummingbirds. Mold should never be allowed to grow in your feeder.
In reality, it took you longer to read all of this than it will take to wash it.
Great question! Go to the head of the class. The answer isn't the same for everyone. Some parts of the country have hummingbirds year round. Other areas have them Spring to Fall. For the Spring to Fall people, you'll want to be sure to get your feeder out early enough in their migration that they find your feeder first. If you wait until mid Summer, they've most likely chosen their yard(s) and are already nesting. This handy Spring migration map is a HUGE help. You may want to 'bookmark' it, or add it to your 'favorites'.
For more interesting details about migration and timing, check out our upcoming blog "When Should You Put Out Your Hummingbird Feeders in Spring?"
You won't be arrested if you do BUT you'll risk getting ants in your feeder. Ants can actually DROP onto the feeder from the tree branches above, bypassing the ant moat. Alas, the ants will probably be here long after we're gone, just due to plain old determination. Isn't there a song about this...?
Each flower only has a small amount of nectar so hummingbirds naturally tend to move from bloom to bloom to bloom so multiple feeding ports are more like 'blooms' for them. If there's a plant with 60 blooms on it, and a plant with 4 blooms on it... which do you think they'll visit first??
Nope. Hummingbirds are unique in that their tongue is crazy long - TWICE as long as their beaks! So only they can reach the nectar. Other birds, who typically will drain regular hummingbird feeders, can't reach the nectar in this feeder. And because our special plastic is so hard, Orioles, even woodpeckers, can't peck out and enlarge the holes so they can't access the nectar. It can be entertaining to watch them try, though. They give up and sometimes take a drink from the ant moat, like a consolation prize.
No to all. We use the best plastic available. It's UV stable so it won't fade, get brittle, leak or deteriorate over time. You may want to include it in your will as it'll still be in great shape long after we're all gone. If it ever does fade, leak or break, we'll replace the offending part, for free. Just contact us.
Sounds like free entertainment for you because we'll replace the lid at no cost.
See??? Even bears love it! No need to buy another feeder. This feeder is incredibly strong but bears are stronger. We'll send you a new feeder, at no cost. Please don't send us any pieces of the feeder you've found. May we suggest that you locate your feeder away from the house? We're thinking like 5 miles.
Not the first time this has happened. No worries, we'll send you a new lid. Makes one wonder if we'll someday see a UFO that looks like a Lil Sweety hummingbird feeder. Do you happen to live in New Mexico?
We will make the best feeder possible, always... We will replace any defective part, failures due to defects in material or workmanship. Bear, raccoon and alien abductions, too.
Good news.... if the tab, that keeps the feeder on the hanger, no longer holds up the feeder, just let us know and we will ship you new parts. Just send us a message on the "Contact us" page. We'll need to know if you have the large, Hum Sweet Hum or the Lil Sweety. Please include an address to which we can ship parts.
Because these feeders were extensively field tested, we do not accept returns because your hummingbirds won't use it. There are too many variables and human practices that affect hummingbirds' behavior.
Downloadable Instruction Sheet
Instruction sheet for Lil Sweety and Hum Sweet Hum
Downloadable Instruction Sheet
Instruction sheet for Garden Pole Mount Set