Attracting birds to our backyards is easy with bird feeders. My favorite birds to watch zoom around outside are hummingbirds because they can actually be quite friendly! Hummingbird feeders are different than other bird feeders because hummingbirds sip nectar instead of eating seeds. Attract these beautiful birds to your backyard with these tips and this super easy hummingbird food recipe!This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure.
How to Choose a Hummingbird Feeder
It’s easy to find hummingbird feeders in the spring at many local stores. They come in many sizes and you can choose between plastic and glass. For hummingbird feeders, bigger is not always better especially if you live in a warmer climate. We have to change out the hummingbird food more frequently than those in cooler climates, so it’s a waste to have large feeders.
At first I thought plastic was better because it’s less prone to break. However, glass is much easier to clean and I think the glass hummingbird feeders just look better. The plastic can discolor from being out in the sun. If you choose glass, just watch your little ones if they like to help fill the feeder. If you can’t find many options in your local stores, you’ll find many to choose from here!
What do Hummingbirds Eat?
These tiny birds have quite an appetite! They consume about half of their body weight in bugs and nectar everyday. Here’s a great article that goes into depth about what hummingbirds eat AND the research that led to this discovery.
Setting out hummingbird feeders won’t take them away from their main food sources – bugs and flower nectar. Leaving them out in the fall as their migration starts won’t make them stay around longer. You don’t have to worry about messing up their migration.
Easy and Cheap Hummingbird Food Recipe
If you’ve seen hummingbird feeders in stores, I’m sure you’ve also seen the big bottles of red dyed hummingbird food. While it may seem easy to grab a bottle or two to fill your feeders, it’s super easy and much cheaper to make your own hummingbird food. Plus, it’s probably healthier for our bird friends!
You only need 2 ingredients for hummingbird food. No, red dye isn’t one of them!
Granulated sugar and tap water in a 1:4 ratio. That’s it! Use 1/4 cup of sugar for every cup of water.
Bring the water and sugar to a boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, let it cool completely before filling your feeder. A quicker way is to use a 1:2 ratio of sugar to water and then add the remaining water amount as cold water to quickly cool the mixture.
Fill your feeder when the hummingbird food is at room temperature. You can make a larger batch and refrigerate the extra. Just bring it to room temp before using it.
No Red Dye in the Hummingbird Food Recipe?
Commercial hummingbird food usually has a red color to it so many people assume they need to do the same when making their own at home. Not only is red dye not needed, it can actually be harmful to our hummingbird friends!
Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red because they associate that color to flowers with high quality nectar. Most hummingbird feeders are brightly colored with red as a dominate color. No need to add red to the food to help attract the birds.
How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Yard
If you’re not having any luck finding hummingbirds at your feeder, you can plant flowers that they enjoy in your yard. After all, feeders are a supplement to their normal diet – not a replacement. They love brightly colored tubular flowers. The National Audubon Society has a wonderful native plant database that you can use to find plants for your specific area. You can even narrow down the search to which birds you want to attract. Find this awesome tool here!
Related – Gardening Fun with Kids
How to Clean Your Hummingbird Feeder
If you live in a warmer climate, wash and refill your feeder twice a week. If you live in a cooler climate, you can do this once a week. If your hummingbird friends are emptying your feeder more frequently, wash it every time you refill it.
Washing your hummingbird feeder is super easy. Simply rinse it with hot water or use a diluted vinegar solution. I take apart the feeder and soak the parts in the sink with hot water and some vinegar. Rinse well and then refill! Dish soap can leave behind a residue so it’s best to just use plain water or vinegar to clean the feeder.
Hummingbirds are delightful to watch zoom around our backyards. Using a hummingbird feeder is a great way to get a close-up look at these beautiful birds and give them a little snack. They can also be very friendly. When we neglect to put up our feeder, our hummingbird friends remind us by flying up to the windows near where the feeder is usually hung and chirping at us. I’ve even had them fly right up to me while I’m out in the garden!