FAQ's About Hummingbirds

Emily White


Here are some of the most common questions that we, at Featherfields, are asked about hummingbirds. Plan to attract more hummingbirds this year with the help of the following advice.

What's the best way to attract hummingbirds in the spring?

Have feeders cleaned and ready for hanging by the end of April. If you know the usual arrival date of your local hummers, plan to put feeders out at least a week prior to this date. The more feeders, the more hummingbirds in your yard. As long as you can maintain them you can't have too many.
We live in a region where hummingbirds tend to arrive ahead of the first flower bloom, so you could try using some brightly coloured ribbon as a way of attracting them. Tear in fat long strips and tie to shrubbery or near feeders.

How can I prevent my feeder from dripping?

Many hummingbird feeders tend to drip due to either feeder design or environmental conditions. Try to place your feeders out of the wind and in the shade. The hot sun has many negative effects. When air in the feeder gets hot it will expand and push the liquid out of the feeder ports. Sun also allows the nectar solution to ferment more quickly and can be destructive to the material of the feeder.
A very good idea is to use a high quality saucer-style feeder. Because the feeder ports are above the level of the liquid it will not drip and won't splash due to wind. Featherfields has many best-sellers of this variety.

I can't seem to avoid the inevitable ants, bees and wasps at my hummingbird feeder. Any advice?

There are quite a few feeders on the market that come with bee guards over the feeder port. These are quite successful in keeping bees and wasps from accessing any nectar. The hummingbirds easily push past the bee guards to feed. Ants can easily be discouraged by using an ant trap with your feeder. Many feeders now have one built-in but you can also buy them separately. It is a small cup which you fill with water. Ants are not able to cross over this barrier to access the feeder ports.

Why are there no hummingbirds at my feeder?

Many people have trouble attracting hummingbirds and their first inclination is to blame the feeders, but the situation is more complex. First, you may live in a poor habitat. With few flowers, shrubs or trees, hummers don't stop by. You may live in too good a habitat. If there are too many hummingbird flowers in the area, birds may not bother with feeders. They will also sometimes temporarily desert a feeder for this reason especially with an abundance of wildflowers in the vicinity.
Not all hummingbirds visit feeders. Certain individuals have their own behaviour pattern, potentially influenced by prior experience. They may just prefer to feed from flowers.
Hummingbirds are always more likely to come to feeders that are full of clean, fresh nectar. Remember to change the nectar often to avoid fermentation. During the hottest times, this should be done about every 3 days. In the cooler spring and fall weather, once a week should be fine. The goal of any hummingbird lover is to supply clean, safe sugar solution in clean feeders. Once they start coming, keep your feeders filled. If empty for too long they will seek food elsewhere.
Finally, keep your eyes peeled! If there are not many hummers in the area, it could be easy to miss their visits.

Orioles are monopolizing my hummingbird feeders. What should I do?

If only this was everyone’s problem! Many people try to attract orioles without success. That being said, orioles can be frequent visitors to hummer feeders which may discourage hummingbird activity. The problem will likely be solved by providing orioles with their own oriole feeder designed with larger feeding ports and sturdy perches. Choose hummingbird feeders with no perches so that it is more difficult for orioles to access the feeder.

What time of year should I stop feeding the hummingbirds?

It is completely fine to continue to feed hummingbirds well into the fall. Their instinct to migrate is governed by daylight hours, not by available food. It is a myth that hummingbirds won’t know to migrate south if we continue to feed them. Consider that there are also many flowers still blooming in the fall and they don’t stick around to feed from their nectar either. A full feeder in September and even October can be helpful to stragglers in cooler weather. Wait until you haven’t seen any hummingbirds at your feeder for at least a week or two before taking them down for the season.

I hope this advice has been of some help to all of the hummingbird lovers out there. Remember; think about your surrounding environment first. Planting nectar-rich flowers, shrubs and trees will make your yard much more attractive to hummingbirds.

Visit Featherfields for a huge selection of hummingbird feeders, oriole feeders, and all the accessories.

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