For best viewing, it’s fine to place a hummingbird feeder near a window as long as you place decals on the glass to deter strikes against the reflective surface. Some feeders attach directly to a window, but placing the feeder a few feet away from a tree branch or post generally offers a better view. Try to keep the feeder out of the direct sun when possible to slow spoilage between changes. Since you’ll need to refill and clean the feeder regularly, don’t place it somewhere you need a ladder to reach. Watch out for swooping territorial birds and keep the feeders high enough that ground predators like house cats can’t reach the visitors.
How to Mix Hummingbird Food
Pre-mixed hummingbird nectar quickly becomes expensive when you change out the feeders as often as recommended. Consider making DIY nectar instead of spending dozens of dollars a month just to attract more hummingbirds. According to recommendations from sources like the Smithsonian National Zoo, all you need is plain granulated white sugar and water. The recipe is:
1 part sugar
4 parts warm water.
Simply mix until the sugar is all dissolved. Don’t add red dye, herbal extracts, or any colorings or additives in general. Hummingbirds don’t need them, even if they’re included in commercial products you find at the store. The healthiest mix mimics the nectar found in flowers that’s purely a combination of sugar and water. Brown sugar or sugar substitutes aren’t safe for hummingbirds either because they can affect their liver or encourage fungal infections. Stick to granulated white sugar even if you don’t personally include it in your diet.
The Risks of Forgetting to Change the Feeders
Hummingbird drinking from feeder
A dirty hummingbird feeder full of mold and spoiled nectar is more dangerous to the hummingbirds than no feeder at all. Hummingbirds can’t always tell they’re drinking bad nectar, resulting in illness that can wipe out most or all of the birds that visit your feeder. If you can’t commit to changing the nectar at least every other day, take the feeder down and only hang it for a day at a time. Sugar water is fine to store in the refrigerator in a separate container, but the feeder should only contain what you expect the birds to consume in 48 hours. Don’t fill it to the top unless you’re sure you are feeding a whole crowd. Fungal infections are very harmful to hummingbirds are hard to detect in a feeder, so clean it thoroughly between nectar changes to prevent illness issues.
Proper Cleaning Procedures
Close-up of hummingbird with beak in feeder
Bleach is necessary for sanitizing these feeders due to the high sugar content of the nectar. However, leaving too much bleach residue behind could also risk damage to the hummingbirds. Choosing an easy-to-clean design that allows for the use of a small bottle brush in each feeding tube is the best idea. The feeding ports for the birds are the hardest part to clean on most designs, yet that’s the spot that also puts them in the most direct contact with mold. Soaking the whole feeder in a 10:1 water to bleach solution should be enough to sanitize it each time you change the nectar.
What Seasons to Put up Feeders
Hummingbirds around a feeder
For the parts of the country with cold winters, most migrating hummingbirds arrive in April through June and depart by the end of August to early September. This means that you can safely put your feeders away in fall and wait until late spring to return them to the yard. In some areas, hummingbirds only visit for a month or two at the height of summer. Following the blooms of the wildflowers in your area will generally be a good guide. In warmer climates like Florida and some parts of California, hummingbirds feed year-round, and there’s no need to put your feeders away unless you want a break from cleaning them.