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How to Feed Hummingbirds (Without a Feeder)

How to Feed Hummingbirds (Without a Feeder)
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Hummingbirds make for a beautiful visitor to backyards everywhere. They come in vibrant, beautiful colors and their small stature gives them a grace that few other creatures can match. There is nothing quite like looking out the back window and seeing them flying around the yard.

One of the best ways to attract them to your yard is through the use of a bird feeder. Bird feeders can require quite a bit of maintenance, so there needs to be alternative methods for attracting these beautiful birds to your yards.

Here are a few tips for attracting hummingbirds to your yard without the need for a feeder that can become filthy and potentially spread avian diseases.

Hummingbird Nectars

Leaving out containers that are filled with a classic nectar recipe can be a great way to attract hummingbirds to your yard. Not only that, but it can also help you save some money on those expensive commercial mixes that you may find at a pet store or online.

All you need to do is create a mixture of sugar water. The sugar is a natural food source for hummingbirds and should be enough to draw them into your yard on a regular basis. Just keep an eye out for other animals that may be attracted to the sugar water as well.

Nectar can even be mixed up in large quantities and then stored in the fridge or your freezer until you need to refill your current setup. Just make sure that you avoid using any products with dye in it.

This includes colored juices, red food dye, or any other additives. These chemicals can potentially harm the hummingbird and don’t do anything positive for their diets.

Use Natural Food Sources

Hummingbird Feeding from Flower

Generally speaking, the hummingbird’s diet is made up of several different food sources. Flowers that naturally produce nectars are the most popular option and the colorful blooms of some flowers can be quite attractive to hummingbirds.

There are other hummingbird foods such as fruit juices, tree sap, insects, and pollen. If you really want to get creative and deal with a spider problem around the home, you could capture them and use them as hummingbird food.

Just make sure that you avoid spraying any insecticides or pesticides that may remove those natural food sources. It can’t hurt to plan out a hummingbird garden, either.

Plant some top nectar blooms in the garden to bring in happy and hungry hummingbirds. The more varied that your food sources are, the better chance you have of attracting hummingbirds and a wide array of other birds to your yard.

Use a Different Feeder

If the idea of a bird feeder is not terribly attractive to you, you can also go with a feeder that is specifically designed for hummingbirds. This will dispel other, unwanted birds from flying in and eating the food.

Just make sure that you use a variety of hummingbird feeders throughout the yard to attract the widest array of hummingbirds. There are both plastic and glass and you can even use designs that have either one or multiple feeding access points.

Consider hummingbird feeders that don’t have perches, either, as this may appeal to different types of hummingbirds. Different sizes can also appeal to the different preferences of the various types of hummingbirds that may visit your yard.

Properly Position Food

Hummingbird on Garden Fence

Natural food sources – the flowers that produce nectar – can only be positioned in one way. But those mixtures that you present to the hummingbirds can and should be positioned in a variety of ways throughout your yard.

Keep hummingbirds safe from potential window collisions or even getting their beaks stuck in the mesh of window screens by positioning the food at least five feet away from the window.

It is also imperative that you place the food in areas that are out of direct sunlight and away from breezes. This will help to prevent spilled nectar and will slow down the fermentation process, keeping your nectar mixture safe and fresh.

To help the hummingbirds find your feeders, keep them near the flowers that produce nectar or any other colorful accents that you may have throughout your yard. If you have red decorations, even better, as these will almost definitely catch the eye of local hummingbirds.

Get Rid of Bugs

The downside to having nectar food sources throughout your yard is that it probably will attract more than just hummingbirds. Ants, bees, and wasps all find nectar to be an irresistible food source, so it can be of the utmost importance to keep their presence to a minimum.

Choose feeders that have built-in traps or insect guards to keep those annoying pests as far away as possible. You want to avoid food sources that have decorations or ports that are yellow; yellow is a naturally attractive color to wasps and bees in particular.

Make sure that you don’t put any sticky or oily products anywhere close to your food sources. These products may stick to the feathers of the hummingbird and prevent them from being able to preen properly.

Finally, avoid using insecticides that could be toxic and potentially contaminate the food sources. Some of these insecticides can even be deadly to these small birds, so be aware of what you put out near your food sources when trying to keep insects at bay.

Clean the Feeding Area

Adding Soap and Water to Sponge

Whether you are using feeders or just putting out some kind of food source you’ve concocted, it is important to keep the area as clean as possible. This means cleaning two to three times every week to ensure that everything is properly cleaned.

Frequent cleanings may be necessary in hotter climates. When the temperature is hot, the nectar can ferment far more quickly, and fermented nectar can eventually lead to mold.

Mold is gross and it can even be fatal to hummingbirds. Moreover, sour food will likely deter hummingbirds from visiting the area instead.

When you clean the area, make sure that you get all the nooks and crannies of the container or feeder. This will ensure that any potential source of fungus, mold, crystallized sugar, or old nectar has been thoroughly cleared.

Soaking the container in really hot water is a great way to get any potential residue that may be on the container or feeder as well.

Migration Meals

Whenever they are getting ready to migrate, hummingbirds tend to feed the most. This is to build up their energy reserves in preparation of the long flight ahead of them.

By keeping your containers or feeders clean and full late into the fall and early winter, the migrating birds can be properly fed. Do this again in the early spring to attract the first of the returning hummingbirds.

Likewise, you would want to choose early and late-blooming nectar flowers to create a longer-lasting hummingbird garden. When you have these setups, it may shock you just how early and late that the hummingbirds will show up and they will definitely be grateful for the meals that help them refuel.

Properly store any containers or feeders when they are not in use to prevent them from becoming dirty or rotted.

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Dave Veith

Tuesday 6th of July 2021

I have a good supply of excellent maple syrup that I would like to feed to the humming bird coming to my feeder on my 3rd floor deck. What is the best way to do this? Dave Veith