This spring, my husband and I decided to put out a hummingbird feeder. The previous owners of our house had hummingbirds that came around, and we wanted to see if we could get them to come back after a few years of not having a feeder out.
I know these are not the best pictures, but I did what I could with what I had. Hummingbirds are fast little critters!
Hummingbirds are such fascinating creatures. We have a male and a female hummingbird that have been coming around. We have yet to see them at the feeder at the same time. As they were flitting to and fro, my husband asked me to look up some facts about hummingbirds. The few facts I looked at (on the National Parks Service website, which I consider to be a reputable source) were truly amazing. A hummingbird’s heart can beat up to 1,260 times per minute and North American hummingbirds beat their wings an average of 53 times per second! What amazing little creatures!
Even though stores sell bright red hummingbird “nectar”, I have read that the dyes used in the concoctions are not healthy for the hummingbirds. So, I did a little research and chose to make my own.
It was actually very easy to do! Basically, it is just a simple syrup. The ratio is four parts water to one part sugar. So, for me, that meant using one cup of water and ¼ cup of sugar. The feeder that I have will hold two to three times that, but I will explain why I only use 1 cup of water a little later in this post.
I put the water and sugar into a saucepan, stirred it up a little, and brought it to a boil. (Funny side note: I took the lid off of the jar of sugar and went to shake the sugar around so that it was loose and easy to scoop with a measuring cup. Well, apparently I shook it a little too vigorously because I ended up with a sugar mess all over my island, chair, and floor. One talent God certainly blessed me with was the ability to make a mess in the kitchen!) After the mixture boils for about two minutes, remove it from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool to about room temperature.
Once the nectar was nearly cool, I brought the feeder inside to clean it. I just rinsed it out with some warm soapy water to get rid of any dirt or residue. I then poured the simple syrup into the feeder, which requires turning the clear bottle part upside down. I probably should have used a funnel, but I actually did not make a mess this time!
I then screwed the bottom back on, flipped it right-side-up, and took it outside to hang it back up. Piece of cake!
I read on the National Parks Service website that changing the feed mixture out every 48 hours is recommended to prevent spoiling. Now, I realize that I will probably never remember to change my hummingbird feed every two days. The last time, I left the syrup in for a few weeks, and I checked it when I changed the mixture. It did not smell spoiled or look cloudy or show any other signs of not being good any longer. Also, if the food was spoiled, I believe the hummingbirds would not have kept returning to the feeder to eat. My recommendation is to follow the National Park guidelines, but you can also choose to leave it out longer. Regardless, I plan to change my nectar about once a week from here on out. That is why I only made one cup of food: to reduce waste when I change the nectar. If the hummingbirds empty the feeder before one week passes, I can simply just change it out early.
Do you have a hummingbird feeder at your home? I would love to hear about it! What mixture do you put in it? How often do the hummingbirds visit your feeder? Feel free to comment and share your hummingbird stories!
UPDATE: The hummingbirds made a liar out of me tonight! As my husband and I were enjoying dinner together, a new hummingbird came to visit the feeder. It had different coloring on its neck and tail than the other two we are accustomed to seeing. It stuck around for a little while, and then one of the original hummingbirds (I think it was the male) came to the feeder. He started chasing the other hummingbird around the feeder, and then flying up in the air and diving toward the new hummingbird! I have herbs growing beneath the feeder, so the new hummingbird hunkered down in my oregano to attempt to hide from the attack hummingbird! What a show! We never expected to see something like this! I did a little research, but I do not know if the old hummingbird was being territorial or trying to complete a mating ritual. If you have any insight, please share!