Even if you think it is too early for hummingbirds, put up your feeder now. If you have a feeder out when they arrive, there is a better chance a hummingbird will stick around and nest in your area.
Though it depends on the weather, those of us in the northeast can expect hummingbirds to make an appearance around April. The southern U.S. welcomes them back as early as February, in central U.S. it is in March, for Canada and Alaska it is May.
Hummingbird feeders range from simple plastic to really cool glass art. It is best if there is a splash of red somewhere on the feeder to attract them, eliminating the need for the addition of artificial red dyes to the sugar water. It's not needed and better safe than sorry in offering anything that could be harmful.
Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Recipe
- 1 part sugar
- 4 parts water
InstructionsThe ratio is 4 cups of water to 1 cup of sugar.
You can store left overs in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Using a medium sauce pan, add the sugar to the water, stir to dissolve, and continue stirring as you bring it to a boil. Gently let it boil for about 3 minutes, turn off the heat and let cool before adding to your feeder.
Do not add red dye. It is not needed using a hummingbird feeder.
Experiment with where you decide to put your hummingbird feeder. You want it in a spot that is easy for the birds to find yet somewhat shaded from the full sun. Exposure to full sun will encourage quicker spoilage of the nectar.
Though it may seem wasteful, even if there is still some nectar left in the feeder after a week you need to dump it, clean the feeder, and add fresh food. The sugars in both homemade and store bought nectar can grow bacteria and yeast. This can be harmful and prevent your hummingbirds from coming back.
During normal temperatures below 70 degrees F you should change your hummingbird food every 7-10 days. Hotter temperatures will result in needing to change the food more often. Should you notice the nectar turning cloudy or any floaties, assume it is going bad and dump it.
Use this temperature degree chart as your guideline during hotter weather
71-75 change every 6 days
76-80 change every 5 days
81-84 change every 4 days
85-88 change every 3 days
89-92 change every 2 days
93+ change daily
Try to pay attention to keeping your feeder stocked.
Hummingbirds will start eating every morning about a half hour before the sun rises and will stop every day about a half hour after dark. They will eat 25% of their daily intake of food during the first hour they are awake, and take in a bunch more nutrients like food and nectar just before they go to sleep.
At the end of the summer season hummingbirds will migrate, but keep your feeders up until you have not seen them for two weeks. There are always stragglers and with dropping night time temperatures you want to have available nourishment to help them prepare for their long journey.
The departure periods are weather dependent, but generally, hummingbirds will start leaving in the fall (northern hemisphere time) as early as August way up toward Canada and Alaska, September in the upper portions of the United States, October for the middle United States, and November in the southern part of the United States.
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