How to Care for Hummingbirds

How to Care for Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds may need your help from time to time!

Hummingbirds are fascinating little creatures that may need your help from time to time!  Many people enjoy feeding hummingbirds, and you can do the same by offering homemade sugar water in the hummingbird feeder.  While this water won’t provide the nutrients the hummingbird needs, it does give them the energy to look for other plants, such as the flowers you’ve planted in your backyard for them.  If you find injured or stunned hummingbirds, including, you can also take steps to help, though you should call a wildlife rehabilitator for professional guidance.

1.  Feeding Hummingbirds

Make a 1-to-4 ratio of sugar syrup.  The mixture should be 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.  Boil the water in a pan you’ve rinsed thoroughly to make sure there’s no soap left.  When it’s cool enough to measure, measure out the amount of water you need.  Add the sugar to the warm water and stir until it completely dissolves. Let the mixture cool completely.

For instance, boil a little over 4 cups (950 mL) of water (to account for evaporation).  Measure it out, and then add 1 cup (225 grams) of sugar to the water.

Only use white cane sugar.  Don’t use brown sugar, turbinado sugar, honey, or artificial sweeteners, as these are toxic for hummingbirds.  Use spring water if you can, but you can also use tap.

2.  Pour the Mixture into the Feeder and Put it Outside

Change the mixture every 1-2 days.  Store any extra sugar water in the refrigerator, and it will stay good for about a week or so.  It’s bad when it starts to go cloudy.

When you change out the mixture, rinse it out thoroughly before adding more solution to the feeder.

3.  Put the Feeder in a Shady Area away from Predators

If you leave the food in the sun, it will ferment faster.  Fermented sugar is bad for the hummingbirds.  In the shade, it can last 1-2 days before going bad in the summer, but in the sun, it may go bad in a couple of hours.

Also, place the feeder out of reach of animals like cats, which are natural predators of the hummingbird.  Try to place the feeder at least 4 feet (1.2 m) off the ground.

4.  Clean the Feeder at Least Once a Week with Mild Soap and Warm Water.

Take the feeder apart.  Pour in warm water and a dash of dishwashing soap.  Use a sponge or scrubber to clean out the inside, and then rinse it thoroughly.  Make sure to scrub out the nectar ports, too.  You may need a small straw brush to get inside the ports.  It’s even better if you can clean it every couple of days.

If you can’t take the feeder apart, try to use a bottle brush to scrub the inside.  Alternatively, pour water and soap in it.  Shake it up and then rinse it out.

If the feeder is moldy, clean it out with soap and water, then leave it in a solution of 0.25 cups (59 mL) of bleach and 1 gallon (3.8 L) of water for an hour or 2.  Rinse it off when you’re done.

Some of them can be put in the dishwasher, so check the bottom of yours to see if it says it’s dishwasher safe.

5.  Include a Wide Variety of Flowers in Your Backyard for Food

Hummingbirds will eat nectar from perennials, annuals, and biennials, so plant a diverse selection to help feed your friends.  You can try hollyhock, geraniums, snapdragons, lantana, Indian paintbrush, bee balm, and/or impatiens.

You can plant flowers in the ground or in flowerpots; the hummingbirds won’t care

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