Choosing a Hummingbird Feeder
With so many different kinds of hummingbird feeders out there, it is difficult to decide which one to try. There are many factors to take into account when buying a hummingbird feeder.
One of the most important things to remember is that hummingbirds are very attracted to the color red. That is why almost every hummingbird feeder you see will be red or have red on some spot on the feeder. As discussed in last week's article, red flowers will help to attract these birds too, but you want to make sure that your feeder has red on it as well.
As the nectar that hummingbirds feed on is made of sugar, you can imagine that it attracts not only hummingbirds but also bees and ants. Look for feeders with built in ant moats to discourage ants. The ants drown in the moat and never get to the nectar. Just as hummingbirds are attracted to the color red bees are attracted to the color yellow. Make sure that the feeder doesn't have any yellow on it.
There are many feeders on the market without perches. While it is true that hummingbirds do not have to perch, they prefer it. It burns up a lot of energy for hummingbirds to remain in air to feed. So, always look for a feeder with perches. Some saucer types will have a ring around it and others will have a hook for the birds to perch. Either is fine.
As is the case with many seed feeders, many consumers feel that the larger the better. This means less frequency for filling. However, since hummingbirds feed on nectar, larger is not necessarily better. A couple factors affect this.
First, it is recommended that hummingbird feeders be cleaned approximately every three days. After a couple days in the sun and heat the nectar will start to turn rancid and be harmful to the hummingbirds. So, if your feeder is not very popular you will end up having to throw out the nectar after a couple days.
Second, it is actually better to put out several small feeders than one large one as hummingbirds can be very territorial. By having 2 or smaller feeders strategically placed in your yard, you are more likely to enjoy several hummingbirds.
If you would like to make your own nectar, it is always 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Please do not use honey or sugar substitutes as they can be harmful to hummingbirds.
Look for a feeder that comes apart easily. This will make it easier to clean. There should be no little crevices for mold to grow. Some feeders are even dishwasher safe. If they are they will typically state this on the packaging. Also, many feeders now come with small brushes to clean the feeding ports. Even if the feeder doesn't come with one, you should purchase one (they are pretty cheap) for this purpose. When shopping for a feeder, if one isn't on display don't be afraid to ask to take it out of the box to fully examine it.
If you live in an area that gets pretty windy, your feeder may spill, or if it is made of glass is might fall and break. Look for a hummingbird feeder that can be mounted on a pole to avoid this problem.
As with any product, sometimes the ones that are the most attractive are not always the most functional. Keep this in mind when choosing a feeder. In my experience, the worst ones are the glass feeders with the plastic port at the bottom. These tend to leak no matter what you do.
Your best bet is a plastic saucer feeder. I love the plastic saucer feeders because I can see my beautiful hummers from any position on the feeder. My favorite model is Droll Yankees feeder (see below). It's the perfect size and comes with Nectar Guard tips, which prevent insects from getting into it. It also includes a built in ant moat as well. Try it and I think you will be very pleased.
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