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.

Monday, June 13, 2011

When did people start to feed hummingbirds?

When was the hummingbird feeder invented? ~ Gladstone, Michigan

I don’t know when people began feeding hummingbirds. I do know that with their lightning speed and jewel like iridescent feathers, gardeners have been trying to attract hummingbirds to their gardens for a long while.

Feeding hummingbirds may have started with beekeepers feeding the bees in the early spring to give bees an ample supply of food during cold months and get an early start in the honey-gathering season. One method of feeding bees in the 1800's was to invert a bottle of sugar water into a supply cup, similar to some hummingbird feeders you still see today.

So I searched www.google.com/patents and found a 1941 patent for a Sweet Liquid Bird Feeder built for birds only and made to exclude the bees. Click the link to see the full patent: http://goo.gl/64eJ2. It was a glass jar that screwed into a cup that had a wire screen on top to allow the hummingbirds to lap up the sugar water.

Another patent in 1951 took a test tube and attached an artificial flower to a little hole in the bottom. According to the patent “The object of this invention is to provide an artificial supply of food for humming birds for the purpose of attracting them and make the food inaccessible to bees at the same time that will otherwise be attracted, leaving the food accessible to small insects on which the hummingbirds may feed.” The link to this patent is at: http://goo.gl/UTUK8.

The National Audubon Society claims that the first commercial hummingbird feeder was introduced in 1950 by the Audubon Novelty Company of Medina, New York. They say it was a glass tube designed by Laurence J. Webster of Boston, as a gift for his wife, who had read an article in a 1928 edition of The National Geographic Magazine.

Today hummingbird feeders continue to be improved. Always look for feeders that are easy to clean and easy to fill. To see a list of my favorite hummingbird feeders of 2011 click the following link: http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/2011/04/best-hummingbird-feeders-of-2011.html

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