We’ve got hummingbirds! You know, those tiny little birds that flap their wings at a million miles a second. Ok, so maybe that’s an exaggeration. But they DO flap their wings so fast that they appear to be flying still (Yeah I know. But have you ever seen a hummingbird STANDING still while its wings are flapping?).
A Few Things About Hummingbirds
Over the past several years, I’ve learned a few things about these awesome tiny creatures (besides the fact that they eat a helluva lot more than I do comparatively for our difference in body sizes):
- When they’re parked in a tree, they have a unique way of chattering with each other that distinguishes them from other birds.
- They don’t typically like to share the hummingbird feeder, so they’ll chase other hummingbirds away.
- When they’re moving to and from the feeder, they make a clicking sound (I call that their reverse signal since you only hear it when they’re backing up).
- You don’t have to feed them red colored food. In fact, clear foods, without the coloring, are much better for them, same as us.
- Some species fly south for the winter (I know, because in AZ we have more species in the winter than the summer).
My Hummingbird History – They Love Me, They Love Me Not
I don’t remember seeing many hummingbirds when I was a kid. I remember lots of Robins, BlueJays, Cardinals, and Starlings. So on the rare occasions that we did happen to catch sight of one, it was super fun!
After we moved to Arizona, I started seeing a lot more of them. So one day we decided to see if we could attract them to the house. We bought a hummingbird feeder at the store, along with some sort of red powdered mix they called hummingbird food. I followed the directions on the box, mixed the powder with water, and put the feeder out on the patio.
Not a single hummingbird ever came! I eventually stopped mixing fresh food.
I just figured they didn’t like my cooking any better than the humans I cooked for!
A few years ago (living in a different place than the first time we’d tried attracting them), I noticed lots of hummingbirds around the bushes outside whenever they were flowering. We also had a neighbor with two hummingbird feeders on her patio that were regularly attracting these cool birds…
I wanted one!
Since I didn’t think my neighbor would appreciate my stealing her feeders, I went online to find one of my very own. (As many of you know, I prefer to have things delivered rather than going out to hunt them down).
So, in usual “nerd girl” fashion, I headed over to Amazon to see if their were any reviews for hummingbird feeders. You know, the ones where people say they actually attract hummingbirds?
I found several so it took a couple hours to read thru reviews.
It’s important to make sure you’re using a bird feeder that actually attracts birds right? Are there really birdfeeders that DON’T attract birds?!
Choosing the Right Feeder – Really?! I’m Feeding You… What’s The Problem?
After reading review after review, I know more about hummingbird feeders than I’ll ever need to know. I also learned that what are positives to some people, are definite negatives to others, so some of the things I learned depend on personal preferences.
The big negatives I read were in regards to feeders that either leak, or crack easy… not a good thing unless you wanna feed the ants instead of the birds!
Several people stated that particular feeders don’t attract hummingbirds at all, but no one could say why. I don’t know if birds are really that picky, but hey, I’m not a hummingbird!
Then there are the comments that fall under positive for one, negative to another…
Some hummingbird feeders attract other types of birds besides hummingbirds. You’ll have to decide where you fall on this one. If you’re planning to attract hummingbirds that don’t like to share, it’s a negative. If you don’t mind attracting other types of birds, could be a positive. 🙂
For me, I’ve gotta laugh some days because I’ve got a single Woodpecker I see regularly that hangs off of bottom of the feeder. He’s WAY too big for the thing, but he manages to get food because he’s got such a long beak for getting bugs I suppose!
The Feeder I Chose
I decided on the First Nature Feeder, for a few reasons.
It’s got really great reviews. As of right now, there are over 1100 customer reviews with an average of 4.4 out of 5 stars. I’d definitely recommending reading thru some of them!
It’s only three pieces, so it goes together super easy!
Because of the way it comes apart, it’s really easy to clean. That means I shouldn’t have to worry about finding the birds I enticed into stopping by, dead on my patio… that’s a win!
It holds 4 cups of liquid, which is perfect for the homemade food!!
It has 10 feeder ports, so it’ll accommodate lots of hummers (although I’ve typically got 4 around at any given time – and the do NOT like to share). But most of the reviewers talk about several sitting and feeding together regularly, so maybe I’m just attracting selfish ones! 🙂
It’s less than $10 bucks!
I wanna share some of the concerns that caused me to read lots of the reviews, along with my personal experience in regards to the issues.
It melts in the sun – I live in AZ with a West facing patio. I’ve not had that issue (and it was outside for over two years), nor have several other AZ reviewers.
It attracts ants – In the time that I’ve had mine on the patio, the only ants it’s attracted are the ones that come when I accidentally spill some of the food on the patio while I’m hanging the thing up. I’ve learned to grab a glass of water to clean up spills. And I bought an ant guard with the feeder because I’d seen reviews saying that they work well at keeping ants from climbing down from the top of the hangar. So far so good!
I know that Amazon carries some other ant guards. Some are prettier and some, IMO, are uglier, so feel free to check out the choices for yourself if you wanna keep away the ants. I’m a functional gal… it’s an ant guard… so it wasn’t a tough choice for me! 😉
DON’T BE STUPID!
I MUST include these couple of notes because when I read the reviews, that’s the only thing that came to mind… if you disagree, feel free to let me know in the comments… and then tell me why you disagree… I’m certainly not a hummingbird expert, but these are just common sense to me (which I do realize isn’t as common nowadays as it used to be).
Stupid Issue 1: The feeder isn’t strong enough plastic to hold hot liquid – Really?! Why the hell would you put hot food in a feeder and risk that a hummingbird would stop by before it cools?! Do you think they have the ability to “blow”?
Stupid Issue 2: The feeder makes a great Splenda feeder for hummingbirds – Why the hell would you be putting Splenda in a bird feeder. Regardless of where you stand on sweeteners and which you prefer for your own foods, not EVER would I think to feed artificial sweeteners to a wild animal!!
Make Your Own Hummingbird Food (For THEM, Not YOU!!)
I went Googling for hummingbird food one day because one, my birds can’t (they don’t have thumbs or the internet), and two, because I’d run out of food at least twice during times that were super inconvenient to hunt down more mix.
And let’s see how YOU feel when you get used to having Hummingbirds all up in your face and then suddenly, you have to leave for work knowing that their feeder’s empty and they’ve been dependent on you for so damn long that you just know they’re gonna starve before you get back home or they’re gonna be so super angry and hurt that they’re gonna pack up and move to someone else’s feeder and then they’re gonna bad mouth you to other birds that might have considered moving into the neighborhood but then decided not to for fear you’d make them starve too and… and… well, ok, so it might not be THAT tragic… but still… it makes you feel like a really bad bird parent to not have extra food around when their feeder’s empty!
Anyway, this somehow came up in a conversation with a friend one day who nonchalantly mentioned that his mom mixes her own. Of course my immediate reaction as he moved onto the next topic as if bird feeding advice wasn’t important was, “Wait! What?! You can do that?! HOW????”
He didn’t know the amounts, but said said it’s just sugar and water. Really! (As if it would be anything more).
Back to Google I went. Guess what? A single cup of sugar boiled in four cups of water and voila! Instant hummingbird food… without the red dye!! And guess what. They have NO problems finding the feeder and knowing there’s food there even if it’s a clear liquid.
Instant hummingbird food – 1 cup of sugar boiled in four cups of water – NO red dye – AND, they have NO problems finding the feeder!
What more could you ask for?
Most people always have sugar and water on hand. Hell, I keep sugar in the house and I eat low carb!
It’s a whole lot cheaper than buying pre-made hummingbird liquids or powders at the store! I ordered a nectar concentrate when I originally ordered the feeder. It’s around $8 and makes enough food to fill the feeder twice. Making my own takes 2 cups of sugar to make the same amount. I can buy four pounds of NAME BRAND sugar (enough to fill the feeder NINE times) for a less than half that!!!
You can make it at any time, day or night, so you never have to feel like a bad bird parent again!
It’s just a huge win-win all the way around!
So have you ever made your own hummingbird food? If so, have you noticed any difference in how many hummingbirds hang around? What other birds come around? Let me know in the comments!
Debi aka @GenXBrat
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