About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It's a Sweet Month to Feed the Birds

As spring migration brings countless numbers of birds north to their nesting territories, I am waiting patiently for two of my favorite birds, the hummingbirds and orioles. Many customers in mid-Michigan have already sighted these birds at their nectar feeders, making it a sweet month to feed the birds.

It takes between 30 to 50 minutes for a bird to digest nectar. In fact, hummingbirds eat about every ten minutes and can drink up to twice their body weight in nectar every day. However, nectar-eaters must also include other foods, to obtain essential amino acids and other nutrients.

When orioles are not feeding on nectar or fruit, they forage for spiders, caterpillars and other insects. Hummingbirds foraging for flower nectar, sap from trees, small insects and spiders. If you throw your old banana peels in the garden it will attract fruit flies for the hummingbirds and make your plants green.

You may purchase ready made nectar at Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing, MI or make your own with white sugar and water. It is a 4:1 ratio for both hummingbirds and orioles. That would be four parts water to one part plain white sugar. You may be tempted to use honey, turbinado sugar, drink mixes or brown sugar, but this is not a good idea. These sugars contain too many minerals for the hummingbird's system and can cause illness or death.
Powdered or confectioners sugar should not be used either. Powdered sugar has cornstarch added to it and that will cause the nectar to ferment.
Nectar (sugar water) recipe
1 cup granulated sugar4 cups water
1. Bring the water to a boil and then add the white sugar.
2. Stir the mixture and let it boil for 2 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let it cool.
4. Fill your nectar feeder & refrigerate any unused nectar for up to 2 weeks.
5. If the birds don't come to the feeder within a few days, you can try moving it to another location near plants that have brightly colored flowers.
6. Be sure to replace the nectar & clean the feeder thoroughly once every three to four days. If you leave it out longer the sugar water could go bad and harm birds.

Color isn’t required either. There have never been any scientific studies done to prove red dye harms hummingbirds, but they come to clear nectar (sugar water) so leave it clear just in case the red is bad for the birds. If you think your feeder needs more color to attract the birds it is okay to attach a bright ribbon or piece of cloth to catch the birds’ eye.

1 comment:

Joy K. said...

Last week, I got to see a hummingbird pluck a tiny spider from the end of a trailing line of spiderweb. It was one of those wonderful coincidences where I noticed the spider seeming to float in midair a few seconds before the bird buzzed up and snatched it.