Hummingbird food

Female red-throated hummingbirds at the feeder

Did you mark your calendar when you saw your first hummingbird this year? The first hummingbird I saw was April 28th, which was about the same time I saw them last year. I like to write these small events on the calendar to remind myself the following year when to prepare the hummingbirds food or to watch out for turtles crossing the road or even when those wonderful wildflowers are in blossom.

Have you ever watched a hummingbird? Hummingbirds are the smallest bird species, and are the only bird capability of flying backwards. They can fly 15 mph, hover in mid-air and fly up and down. The most amazing part is you can watching them right out your window.

There are many flowering plants that can attract hummingbirds to your yard, but the easiest way is to buy or make a feeder. Check out this great pattern for making a feeder out of a bottle, from Birds and Blossoms. When you buy your feeder they may also selling commercial food, no need to buy it you can make your own, just follow this recipe!

Hummingbird food recipe

1 cup white granulated sugar

4 cups water

Add water and sugar in large saucepan and bring to boil, which will help prevent fermentation or spoiling. Let sugar water cool. Use a funnel or spouted cup to fill the hummingbird feeder. Red food coloring is not necessary to add to your sugar water, researchers are unsure if these commercial dyes are harmful to hummingbirds, so the best rule would be to avoid it. Store any extra sugar water in a glass container (canning jar) in the refrigerator and use at the next fill up.

Only use white granulated sugar, other sweeteners (honey, molasses, brown sugar or artificial sugars) do not resemble nectar and can cause bacterial infections in hummingbirds.

Placement of your feeder is also important! If you have multiple feeders place them about 6 inches away from each other. Try to also keep your feeder in the same location each year and if at all possible place it near an area that allows the hummingbird to sit and rest, such as a bush or even put a few branches in the ground around the feeder. If you live on the second floor, hummingbirds are known to visit feeders you most likely will just get less traffic, and if you are able add some colorful potted flowering plants to attract the hummingbirds. Your feeder will also attract ants and bees, when it gets too buggy, wash it out and replace with fresh food. Your sugar water will only last a couple of days in the summer heat and about 5-6 days in the cooler weather. Placing your feeder in partial shade will make your sugar water last longer. As long as you keep your feeder clean and full your hummingbirds will be happy!

My feeder attracts ruby-throated hummingbirds and during the fall seasons right before they migrate (late September to October) they go crazy! They chase each other away from the feeder and I have to fill it up every 2 to 3 days! I even had one hummingbird that would hang out by the feeder and whenever anyone got close she would puff herself out (see below for a before and after picture) and make high squeaking noises. It kept me away too!

Before (Female ruby-throated hummingbird)

After (Female ruby-throated hummingbird)

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the most common breed in the eastern half of North America and according to Birds of New York State have a long bill, iridescent, green back, light under part, and dark tail. The males are identified by their ruby red throat and black chin. Hummingbirds like orchards and open woodland and wetland areas.

Your flower gardens may also attract the sphinx moth, which are sometimes mistaken as hummingbirds. The sphinx moth has clear wings and has a coil like tongue and doesn’t hum when they fly. The sphinx moth will also allow you to get pretty close to it before flying away.

Sphinx moth, photograph by IronChris, courtesy of Wikipedia

Readers do you have any funny hummingbird stories or pictures of hummingbirds? Send them in to farmhousemag(at)gmail(dot)com.

3 Responses to “Hummingbird food”
  1. vintagejenta says:

    Wow! This is so cool. I had no idea all these practical and helpful tips about hummingbirds. And the photos of the puffed up hummingbird are hilarious! What kind of hummingbird is she? Since I don’t see a ruby throat.

    Also – can you tell us more about sphinx moths? Now that you have mentioned them, I am super-curious to know more!

    • Irma Elaine says:

      Thanks Sarah! She is a ruby throated hummingbird, only the males have the ruby throat, I will add that information to the photographs.

      Yes, sphinx moths are amazing and I would love to write something about them, I have to locate my photographs first or take more!

  2. Those pictures are amazing, Ashley, and the puffed-out-chest one especially. And this is my first introduction to the sphinx moth – he looks like a terror of the moth world. One time a hummer hung right near me for awhile .. I was wearing a fuscia colored T, I think he thought I was a big flower.

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