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 15, 2016

No hummingbirds at feeder

Hummingbirds are truly one of the most fascinating groups of birds on the planet and it’s not too late to put up a feeder! Hummingbirds don’t need feeders to survive, but they might appreciate a reliable source of food with this cold spring we’ve been experiencing. Also these incredible little birds are fascinating to watch and a hummingbird feeder can bring them up close.

When they aren’t at the feeder, hummingbirds find nectar from a variety of flowers as well as sap from trees. Throughout the day a hummer drinks more than half its body weight in nectar. But that pointy hummingbird bill isn’t only for lapping nectar; it’s also made for snatching bugs out of the air. They use the flexible tip of their bill to capture insects and insect eggs from the ground and on plants. They love spiders and spider eggs.

This spring foraging for natural foods has been good with the abundance of flowers and natty bugs available to eat. Visits may be less frequent until females begin to incubate their eggs in June. Then they will appreciate quick bites at the feeders between sittings. Just make sure to clean your feeder and change nectar once or twice a week for the best results.

Related Articles:
What is the nectar recipe for hummingbirds? http://goo.gl/MK3AU
Fun Facts about Ruby-throated Hummingbirds http://goo.gl/jcjcr
The Best Hummingbird Feeders http://bit.ly/L4yY3i
Why the color on a hummingbirds’ throat flashes http://bit.ly/JZ31qX
When did people start to feed hummingbirds?: http://bit.ly/o8Y8HR

3 comments:

Jane Schneider said...

The hummers seem turned off by my organic sugar.
Any advice or are they just not hungry enough yet.
Thanks!

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

This spring has been especially good for natural foods and the hummingbird activity might not pick up until momma birds begin nesting.

However Hummingbird.net also has a warning about Raw sugar: Organic sugar is brimming with vitamins, minerals. The result is a less-pure sucrose that contains about five times as much iron; since iron is essential but normally rare in hummingbird diets, their bodies hoard it, and even a modest excess of iron can poison them. If you have the choice, use only white sugar in hummingbird feeders.

The recipe for nectar (syrup):
• Use one part ordinary white sugar to four parts water.
• It's not necessary to boil the water. The microorganisms that cause fermentation don't come from the water; they are transported to the feeder on hummingbird bills.
• Store unused syrup in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

This mixture approximates the average sucrose content (about 21%) of the flowers favored by North American hummingbirds, without being so sweet it attracts too many insects.

Distilled water may be used instead of tapwater. However, some researchers are concerned that distilled water lacks minerals that hummingbirds need, and believe it would be prudent to add a pinch of sodium-free salt, which contain potassium chloride, to feeder solutions made with distilled or demineralized water. This should help bring the salt content of artificial nectar back in line with that of natural nectar and help prevent electrolyte deficiencies. Do not use table salt (sodium chloride). Adding salt is not necessary if well or tap water is used.

Any syrup solution will spoil eventually, regardless of temperature, so strict maintenance is required.

Jane Schneider said...

I will go back to ordinary sugar right away. Thanks!