hummingbirds at dusk


What does pizza delivery have in common with sugar water? Well in the spring hummingbirds are choosing mates and when they do finding an easy food source is pretty important. Normally they have a half acre territory of flowers that the males guard so that when the females fly through and see all the flowers in their location they stick around long enough to build a nest and have a couple of babies. They also will check to see if the fellow has taken over a feeder as well. This is where you come in….

{Interesting tidbit; the eggs of a black-chinned hummingbird is about the size of a coffee bean.}

A hummingbird feeder creates an easy food source so that the little birds can focus all energy on mating. (hint; what sugar water is to hummers; pizza delivery is to humans.)

That said I’ve gotten a couple of questions about hummers in the last couple of days. One from Science Guy, a really nice student, who writes a great post called Science & Soul. (It has really amazing neat facts on science.) And another about hummers in Washington state. Most of the questions I get (fundamentally when all thought out) is about food. I put in the video as proof that the recipe works. (The children giggling in the background are our girls and a friend trying to climb up our hill – I was too lazy to edit that out.)



Okay I got my recipe from a website called; which has tons of information on hummingbirds. It has a really great page on feeders. The basic deal is forgo the hummingbird food at pet stores and simply make your own with white cane sugar and water at a ratio of 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of hot water. Boiling it I think is only necessary if you live in an area where you think you might have too – we live off a water tested well and our hot water heater is set so high that I don’t boil it. For example; if your in city and they use fluoride in the water – that might be good for you but not for a hummer {who has no teeth.} And don’t add anything else to it; like red food coloring, jello or anything just pure sugar water for the high energy needs of these little birds.

Most of the time hummingbirds will not eat out of a feeder of water that has mold so I clean them out every time I refill them. I just use very hot water and if there seems to be any signs of mold or odd coloring on the glass I bleach them with hot water for about a half an hour and then clean them with a baby’s bottle brush.

I hope some of that helps to draw them to your feeders too. (As you can see my feeder could use a break.) Expect your numbers to dwindle down to just males when the females nest and while the babies are hatching. There will be a trend when only the males will suddenly be the ones who show up and that’s very normal. With a little patience eventually the females will come back with the babies and then you’ll have more to feed.

If there is any problem with dead hummingbirds don’t fret – it probably does not have anything to do with the food you gave them or the feeders but just his or her time to pass. A hummingbird in general will not feed out of a contaminated feeder. If suddenly you get an ant or two in the sugar water also don’t fret and consider that the birds eats on small insects as well as your sugar water. I would just change it out if it seems the bug has been there a couple of days. Ants; In my case I spray the very top of the feeder with cooking oil (I wrap the feeder in a dish towel so only the top is showing so it does not get on any of the feeders) and this works wonders at keeping the ants away. In my case I only have to do this once a year.

I hope that the info helps and being raised on the food in pet stores I’ve found this works a lot better at getting a lot of hummers in to visit. My grandmother’s feeders only got one or two all summer long and I’m sure it’s because the store bought feeder juice is too low in sugar content to really attract any birds.

And lastly, many people make gardens solely to attract hummingbirds which is a nice way of luring them to your home. Especially if you don’t want to go to the trouble mentioned above or you have a green thumb and you know it. As of late I’ve had to fill them everyday. The page mentioned above offers various plant ideas you can surround yourself with that they love and will lure them in also.

p.s. because I love a day I can destroy a myth – no they do not migrate in the wings of other birds.



17 Responses to “hummingbirds at dusk”

  1. 1 Bo

    very sweet video – pun intended, unfortunately! 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for your help. I will definately be trying out all of your tips. I do have fluoride in the water, so I will be using water from the water purifier from now on. Thanks once again for that and the bit of publicity as well.

  3. thanks Bo for the giggle (you’d of thought the girls did it enough in the little video – one of the best parts of being a mom is hearing that laughing with regularity.)

  4. My pleasure on both counts Scienceguy. Like I had mentioned I had gotten a couple of questions and one man seemed deeply concerned about a hummer that had passed away on his feeder. I tend to dig up info on many topics and like you I’m happy to pass it around. 😉

  5. 5 montucky

    Excellent post, Lori! Lots of good info there. Happily, our feeder is getting some new species this year, but I’m turning out to be a lousy hummer photog! I’ll settle for weening yours!

  6. This is wonderful and I will second the joy of hearing the kids in the background.

  7. Neat post Lori. I like the addition of the video and nice writeup as well.

  8. What a beautiful hummingbird dance 🙂

  9. Good informative post. Can I suggest an ant moat (a water filled cup of water separating the hanger from the nectar) INSTEAD of cooking oil? The ants crawl down the hanger but can’t make it past the cup of water to the nectar.
    Thanks also for emphasizing CLEAN feeders and no DYES in the nectar. Nice job.

  10. Ants are a very common problem with hummingbird feeders, but here are some suggestions about what can be done to solve this problem. I hope you will find the information to be helpful.

    The best thing to do to prevent the problem of ants at your hummingbird feeder is to block their passage to the feeder. This can be done through the use of Vaseline or tanglefoot, which is a sticky substance commonly found in garden stores. You would place the substance on whatever is holding the feeder, usually a pole or wire.

    Some people choose to wrap a strip of cloth that has been soaked in insect repellant around whatever is supporting the feeder. A brief word of caution here, if you choose to use this method or even if you use a spray insect repellant, please be sure that none of it gets into the hummingbird feeding solution.

    Another suggestion of how to prevent ants is to sprinkle some ginger around your feeder pole. For whatever reason, once you do this, the ants won’t go near the area. I have no idea why this works, but several people have told me that it does. Give it a try and see it for yourself.

    You can also prevent ants and other insects from drinking all the nectar in your hummingbird feeder by hanging your feeder using a piece of clear nylon sewing thread. The tread is very fine and slippery, thus preventing the ants or other insects from climbing it and reaching the nectar.

    If you would like much more information about hummingbirds, please click the links below. The sites contain many articles about hummingbirds, video clips about hummingbirds, an informative tips booklet on hummingbirds, and much more.

    Click Here To Visit About Hummingbirds

    Hummingbirds For Mom

  11. Thank you Zoe for that comment. I loved it so much! Great advice I am so using the fishing line idea this spring!

  12. the pet store here in our area offers me a great deal of discount when i buy from them ,-~

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  1. 1 ant facts
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