Gardening Articles: Health :: Garden Crafts

Planning A Hummingbird Garden (page 2 of 4)

by Bill Thompson III

Consistent Alternative: Feeders

Next best to planting a hummingbird garden is placing nectar-filled feeders in strategic spots. Feeders come in all shapes and sizes and, like flowers, some are better than others. Choose one that is easy to fill, easy to hang, and easy to take apart for cleaning. Heavy-duty plastic feeders, especially those with red or orange parts to attract passing birds, are better than ceramic or glass feeders.

Making a Nectar Solution.
Nectar is easy to make. In a pan, combine 4 cups of water with 1 cup of white sugar and boil until dissolved. (This water-sugar ratio most closely resembles natural flower nectar; you can multiply amounts to make more at a time.) Cool before using, and store extra nectar in a sterile container in the refrigerator.

Nectar Don'ts

  • Don't use anything but white sugar; never use molasses, honey, sugar substitutes, powdered, or brown sugar.
  • Don't increase the proportion of sugar; more sugar is not better for the birds' digestive systems.
  • Don't add red coloring to nectar. There is debate about the ill effects of the coloring. If your feeder lacks red parts, tie a red ribbon to it.
  • Don't add any so-called nutrients to the mixture; these may promote the growth of fungi and bacteria. Hummingbirds get protein from insects.

Location, Location, Location. Place your feeder where you can see and enjoy it. Once the birds find the feeder, they won't be shy about visiting, even if you are nearby. In the hottest months, hang the feeder in a shaded spot to keep the nectar from spoiling rapidly.

Wash the feeder each time you refill it. Scrub feeders occasionally with a brush, after a soaking in a mild bleach-water mixture (1 part bleach to 9 parts water), which kills any bacteria in the feeder.

Now you're ready to enjoy hummingbirds all season. As days get shorter and hummers begin their winter migration, it's important to keep feeders clean and well supplied. Take the feeders down when you don't see any birds for a week or two.

Making a Nectar Solution

Nectar is easy to make. In a pan, combine 4 cups of water with 1 cup of white sugar and boil until dissolved. (This water-sugar ratio most closely resembles natural flower nectar; you can multiply amounts to make more at a time.) Cool before using, and store extra nectar in a sterile container in the refrigerator.

Nectar Don'ts

  • Don't use anything but white sugar; never use molasses, honey, sugar substitutes, powdered, or brown sugar.
  • Don't increase the proportion of sugar; more sugar is not better for the birds' digestive systems.
  • Don't add red coloring to nectar. There is debate about the ill effects of the coloring. If your feeder lacks red parts, tie a red ribbon to it.
  • Don't add any so-called nutrients to the mixture; these may promote the growth of fungi and bacteria. Hummingbirds get protein from insects.
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