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Hummingbird nectar-sugar&water or store bought?

good morning,
hubby and I were at EmmaJeans in Victorville Ca yesterday having breakfast.
it's a place GF featured on DDD's and hubby & shooting buddies go after shooting targets in the mountains...I've never been.
EmmaJeans use several hummingbird feeders - and the number of hummingbirds that were using the feeders was so fun to watch so on the way home we stopped and bought several.

I asked what they used in the feeders to attract so many birds and they said sugar-water-coloring. hubby bought a box of HD's brand of HB nectar .
I read how to make the sugar syrup which says NO food coloring.

I just want to attract lots of hummingbirds and wonder what you use.
the sugar syrup with/without coloring or store bought.
hubby is ready to hang them all, TIA

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  1. I use a simple syrup - one part sugar, one part water. Micorwave until the sugar dissolves and let cool. I get birds by the dozen.

    DO NOT use red food coloring! It's unnecesary and may harm the birds.

    Be sure to change the syrup every few days. If it gets moldy, it could harm the birds. Thoroughly wash the feeders. I put mine in the top rack of the dishwasher and I hit it with a bleach solution, then rinse thoroughly and dry, if it gets any mold.

    16 Replies
    1. re: shoes

      well although I know we have a lot of hummingbirds, we had one feeder that never attracted a single bird. so = parts water to sugar. well that's easy enough. so no coloring at all of any color?
      should I make sure there is red somewhere around feeder? we noticed that lots of feeders are red somewhere.

      1. re: iL Divo

        Yes, red is almost necessary to attract hummingbirds (at least shy hummingbirds). Any time we try to buy a feeder that doesn't have red (like a copper one we had), it just doesn't get used by the birds. I also plant "butterfly bushes" and other butterfly/hummingbird-attracting plants under our feeders, which seems to work very well.

        1. re: team_cake

          our copper beautiful ones were ignored and got no attention.
          but then some dumb plastic ones with red on them didn't do much better.
          one we love was $28 @ a "do it yourself store" is red clear apothecary jar-see thru so it's red baby RED. they totally ignore that now...BUT...they try to stick their beaks into our life size parrots on the patio. go figure...

          1. re: iL Divo

            Frankly, the most successful hummingbird feeders we use are the El Cheapo ones you can get for $10-$15 at any Lowe's or Home Depot or Wal-Mart, etc. They are clear plastic barrels for the nectar and red and yellow plastic flowers for the feeder part. Not classy by human standards, but the hummingbirds love them. Every now and then we try and buy a hummingbird feeder WE like to look at (like the copper one I mentioned before), and the birds send their disapproval by ignoring it. Then, we get a $12 plastic one like I described, and we have lots of little hummingbird friends. No accounting for taste. ;)

            Also, I make our nectar. A simple syrup on one part sugar to three parts water, no food coloring. We have just as many birds as when we used the pre-made instant nectar and I feel much better about giving them something that doesn't have food coloring in it. Also -- it's much less expensive, and one less thing to remember to pick up at the store.

            Good luck!

            ETA: Sometimes birds like to have a "cover" area nearby a feeder because they are especially vulnerable while pausing to feed. We currently have one hummingbird feeder hanging under a locust tree lower branch and another on one of those iron hook garden stands. The iron hook one is still quite near the overhanging branches of a lilac tree, so although the placement of the feeder is easy for us to see without branches obscuring our view of the li'l guys, it's close enough (I guess) to the lilac branches the birds feel safe using it; I often see hummingbirds scout the feeder for a minute from the lilac branches. I think it's definitely helpful to the feeder on or near a tree or at least close branches from a tree.

            1. re: team_cake

              i found the el cheapo ones very difficult to clean.
              the holes would get stuffed up by mold.

              also, i moved the feeder AWAY from the tree and bought a "shepherd's crook" type of stand when i saw the neighborhood cats sitting in the tree lying in wait for the birds. a

              1. re: westsidegal

                the Shepherds crook is a good idea. I know the little ones are scared when they feed wondering how close an enemy is.

                I've shelved the el cheapo feeders I bought in HD. they leak the mmers don't like them > they just ignore.
                last 3 days in a row, we've gone to HD to buy then
                return a glass globe feeder.
                all 3 leaked>returned and got last one they had yesterday. yeah it doesn't leak but so far the hb's are ignoring it :(

          2. re: team_cake

            the answer to the problem of the copper-colored feeder is to put a couple of pieces of red tape near the feeding holes.

            i use red electrical tape

        2. re: shoes

          Shoes, the standard is one part suga to four parts water. Simple syrup might draw ants and bees, or so I'm told by bird experts, and the Arizonan Sonoran Desert Museum.

          1. re: EWSflash

            = parts must taste fabulous though yes? yummmm

            1. re: EWSflash

              The 1:4 mixture attracts ants and bees, too. In any case, the 1:4 ratio was developed by researchers who approximated the concentration of sugar in natural nectar.

              Yes, it might help to have red and/or tubular flowers nearby. Other attractants are overhanging tree limbs. Feeders out in the open tend not to attract as many birds.

              1. re: Just Visiting

                I might disagree with you about feeders out in the open. I've got one hummingbird feeder that hangs on an "arm" that's attached to the house. The feeder is right on my deck -- on the house side, not the deck railing side. I've got hummers stopping at that feeder about every five minutes all day long.

                1. re: CindyJ

                  I have two feeders, each one sort of nestled into the trees. I have regular traffic from the two pairs of hummingbirds that live in our yard, one set in front and one in back. I was at a friends house where the feeder hangs in the sun outside their kitchen window with not a tree, limb or leaf in sight. There was a hummingbird at each of the four feeding spots virtually the whole time I was there, with others banging into them trying to get their own chance to eat. Changed my mind about out in the open being a bad thing.

                  1. re: escondido123

                    Agree--we live on a golf course, so the back is open completely, and the hums fight each other to get to our feeders.

                    1. re: pine time

                      They prefer to perch on dead branches or places where they have a wide view.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        it's fun to go outside and listen to see if they're around. if I don't hear them I call them. you're right, they have several trees they like to perch on. one is a huge silver eucalyptus with thin leaves. I think they choose that one cause they disappear sitting on a lone branch.

                2. re: Just Visiting

                  agree with Cindy,
                  the "out in the open" feeder not only attracted more birds but prevented the squirrels from raiding the feeder and prevented the cats from killing the birds.

            2. My mom has a couple of hummingbird feeders and a Baltimore oriole feeder. She cooks her own sugar syrup. And attacks a few hummingbird pairs and lots of orioles. No need for expensive mixes from the store. The liquid doesn't need colour as long as the feeder has colour.

              You need to make sure to clean the feeders regularly in really hot water. and keep everything clean when hanging it or you'll attract wasps.

              8 Replies
              1. re: Sooeygun

                when I put up other one that we owned last year, we noticed ants being attracted to the nectar albeit no birds. also wonder if they won't come anywhere wind chimes exist?

                1. re: iL Divo

                  You need a water cup that hangs above the feeder. The ants won't cross the water, thus saving the feeder from them. Can be had most places that carry feeders.

                  Also agree, no red dye for them. mix water & sugar in a 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. Not needed to cook it. Love our hummers. We had a dozen juveniles buzzing around our feeder last summer constantly, they were so cute. This year so far we have 1/2 a dozen, but I doubt they are this years crop of babies. We have never seen Ruby Throated Hummers sharing the feeders til last year, and sometimes all port had babies feeding at the same time. We're in De, halfway down the MD border.

                  1. re: Nanzi

                    yea Nanz, we're in southern California and it's probably too hot for those type of HB's :(

                  2. re: iL Divo

                    I have several wind chimes on my front deck where two of my feeders are and they don't deter the hummers. You could try brightly colored hanging flower baskets to attract them to where your feeders are.

                    1. re: BeefeaterRocks

                      Beefeater+Rocks, used to love that drink :)))
                      We have a few more than several ;:+/ .
                      My husband and I buy all the chimes we see and love so there are a lot. Ok it's made using water&sugar (and bought stuff in other half) all feeders hung. NOW WHERE ARE THE LITTLE BIRDS?
                      Now I need to get hanging brightly colored flower pots? sheesh, they're demanding little guys huh? :)))

                      1. re: iL Divo

                        It may take a few days for them to find you, depending on how much natural flora competition is in your area, but when they find you they spread the word like little winged Paul Reveres.

                        1. re: Veggo

                          " but when they find you they spread the word like little winged Paul Reveres"

                          hahahahaha, where are you veggo, in Philadelphia, Boston or Lexington......hahaha

                          ok so not to worry if we're underwhelmed with lack of HB's for a short bit...thanks veggo

                      2. re: BeefeaterRocks

                        We have wind chimes near one of our feeders, too, and it doesn't appear to deter hummingbirds, either.

                  3. Sugar and water, one part sugar to 4 parts water, according to the Audubon Society. And here is an interesting link for next spring--a map that tracks the northward migration: http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: sparrowgrass

                      I used 4-1 water to sugar also, when I had my mountain house in Colorado. I learned quickly to bring the feeder in at night because the bears would whack them like pinatas and lick up the sweet liquid.
                      il Divo, you will enjoy watching the social order of the hummers, and which ones won't let another feed along side it. Then at the end of the day, they all make peace and bulk up for the cool night ahead. I used to get 8 of them at a feeder with only 6 ports. They all had names; Ralph was the alpha male.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        veggo: I LOVE YOUR STORY...
                        there are a boatload of varieties of birds where we are and we do see HB's so I know they're here. we have a few water fountains in the yards as well and I've seen the HB's dart for the huge wall hanging one on front porch to simply stick their beak in the formed calla Lilly part just for a drink, I even took a pix which of course now I can't find :(

                      2. re: sparrowgrass

                        thanks for measurements that are more to my liking. sugar at times can be pricy even in WalMarchay. so a cup of sugar to 4 cups water, good deal. we'd asked the waitress first about ingredients and tgen asked the manager or owner for his list and he said they use "flavoring" in their mix too, I thought "wut?" I didn't ask bcz my meal was mediocre and I was just ready to leave.

                      3. To begin attracting hums, try a sweeter solution: 3:1 water to sugar ratio. Once they're used to your feeders, you can go to 4:1. No coloring. Some people prefer to boil the syrup, saying it keeps longer, but I just use 1 cup of hot water to dissolve the sugar better, than add the remainder of water. Happy Humming!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pine time

                          better walk into the kitchen. think I'll wash (well) the new feeders and make the solution but I'm gonna do half (so 4) of the feeders with recipe found here by you kind folks and the other half will get the $5.99 HD box of premixed that by the way is RED. \*+*/

                        2. 4:1 water:sugar, no coloring, the hummers seem to like it fine.

                          1. Attracting HBs is more about the feeder than the solution. I'd scrap or return the store bought stuff. Don't use it. I use 4:1 ratio water to sugar. I beef it up a bit late in the season as we are on the southern migration path. They spend quite a bit of time here bulking up for the final flight.

                            The feeders I use are First Nature brand (http://www.firstnature.net/product_hu...). We get them at WM for about $5. Very inexpensive and easy to keep clean. I only use the 16 ounce size because the 32 ounce size is harder to keep clean. There are 10 ports on the feeder and I've have 20 birds at one time. We do have ant moats that we got on clearance really cheap one year and I highly recommend them.

                            You can add a few drops of vanilla extract to your sugar water as an additional attractant. The best thing you can do is start a hummingbird garden with plants they enjoy. The sugar water is nothing but bulking up food and a place for them to practice their territorial skills. If you build a good garden, they will have plenty of nectar and protein from the little bugs they eat. They will use the feeders as the supplement they need for migration.

                            If you have banana peels, you can hang them outside near the feeder (but don't keep them out too long!!). The peels will attract gnats and the hummers will snack on them.

                            I see a huge increase in hummers later in the summer for the southward migration. I have one feeder out now and will put out a total of 10 at peak. If you want way more info on hummers and want to involve yourself in a group of folks who are obsessed with them, check out this GardenWeb forum. http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/hu...

                            Good luck!!!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Dee S

                              Dee I'm very inclined to believe you on several accounts.
                              You're right in my opinion about the mmer's being very picky about the feeders. yesterday again we went to the 3 big home stores and WalMart may or may not have had the brand you mentioned, they all started running together in my mind as went from hither to thither as my husband says.
                              of course he bought 2 new ones convinced they detest our 2 beautiful highly ornate decorative ones and would not budge to buy the cheap plastic things. my thoughts are if they like and use the cheap plastic things I don't care if they're not as attractive or not attractive at all. he's just a stubborn schmootz sometimes. you know what they like to do? < be able to stand on a ring of some sort instead of standing on the *stand where the holes are for their beeks to stick into. in other words they're lazy little twits.

                              you're also right they do not like that powdered dust nectar stuff we got from HD. took it back with no problem. also this morning they were annoyed with another HB coming to drink from a feeder and would stop feeding to chase it off. pretty amusing.

                              1. re: iL Divo

                                We also gave up on buying the "pretty" feeders for the utilitarian plastic things, especially if they have what we call a "landing pad." However, they will helicopter hover over if need be. Gosh, they're so much fun. I actually apologize to our Tomato Cage Watch Hum when I have to disturb him in order to harvest some tomatoes.

                                1. re: pine time

                                  the pretty metal sculpture thing on the entire side of one of the feeders we finally took off thinking they didn't like the look of it or it somehow scared them away. but that's one of the pretty reasons we bought it. uff da.

                                  I could go buy the plastic generic types and make nectar and hang 'em myself but the husband would cringe.

                                  that landing pad you spoke of, yes they helicopter hovercraft for sure, but we've seen they much prefer, at least here in our mountains, to be able to set their tiny feet on something.

                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                    I bough a simple one at Amazon. It has a red plastic base, but the container is glass. I like it and so do the birds.

                            2. We have two feeders and with the red plastic on them I see no need to color the sugar water--I also use 4 water to 1 sugar. We used to do about 2 cups of solution at a time for each feeder, but have now cut that amount in half because we were having it go bad before it all got used up. I solved the problems of the ants, for the most part, by spraying the branch right where the feeders hangs with Pam. It's a spot where the hummers don't go so it seems to work out fine. I also finally found a tiny, flexible brush that allows me to scrub out the feeding spots well without using soap--which I understand the hummers hate.

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: escondido123

                                Pam's a great idea.
                                With our one and only other try, I used Vaseline on partial branch thinking that was brill but the ants just walked over the dead ants that stuck to the Vaseline. Problem is the go into the nectar holes and plug it up so yes a lot of tiny pipe cleaners may be in the very near offing.

                                1. re: iL Divo

                                  little water cups above the hum feeders work like a charm.

                                  1. re: pine time

                                    can I make water cups using styrofoam ?

                                      1. re: meatn3

                                        Mr Pine cut single-serve plastic soda bottles into about a 4" "cup" and attached with wire above our hum feeders. Guess styrofoam would work, too. We saw some commericial variieties, but they were about $8. each, which is crazy. Just keep 'em filled with water, which will baffle the ants to no end!

                                        1. re: pine time


                                          so do the ants go into the water cup thinking that's where the sweet liquid is then go belly up?

                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                            Yup. Mr. Pine gets an evil grin to see ants un-swimming in the water cups.

                                            1. re: pine time

                                              please check my last post Mr. Pine, it's at bottom of this page. TIA

                                        2. re: meatn3


                                          bet his idea is swell if I had even the slightest clue how to do what he's speaking of. is the red merlot and the cheese and crackers just part of his wit?

                                          I'll admit to only looking at photos so maybe there were words that followed pix...

                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                            I only looked at the pictures enough to see that the idea seemed workable and low-tech.

                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                      I soak a cotton ball in mineral oil then wrap it around the wire holding the feeder - that works great for keeping ants away.

                                      1. re: judybird

                                        judy, now that's something I CAN do :)))
                                        I have cotton balls and mineral oil, how lucky can a girl get?

                                  2. 4:1 here too.

                                    I don't boil it but get it the water hot enough to dissolve the sugar.

                                    1. Since I discovered the super fine sugar that is called here "Baker's Sugar" I don't even have to warm the water at all. (And it's the same price as regular sugar.)

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: escondido123

                                        Less sugar per unit of volume however.

                                        1. re: johnb

                                          Why would it have less sugar? We poured a cup of baker's and a cup of regular--they both weighed the same.

                                          1. re: escondido123

                                            I did some checking, and apparently "bakers sugar" (which appears to be a proprietary C&H product) is a different thing, so you're right, but in general substitution among different types of sugar by volume is dicey. For example, confectioners sugar by volume yields only about 2/3's the weight of granulated, i.e. there is less sugar there by volume. There are many conversion tables on line. Here is one:


                                            1. re: johnb

                                              I was bewildered that the measurements were identical to regular sugar, but it's true. It's not confectioners.

                                          2. re: johnb

                                            I use Baker's Sugar for everything in my household....have for years. I use the exact same amount of this sugar as i would for granulated.

                                            1. re: latindancer

                                              don't know where any of you live but I've never seen it in southern California, but then I've also not known to look for it. so it's in the sugar section and called Bakers Sugar? interesting

                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                I live in Escondido and got it at one of the big grocery stores, right next to the regular sugar, the kind that comes in a big carton that looks like a milk carton...C&H Brand.

                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                  I purchase mine @ Bristol Farms...
                                                  In BH.

                                          3. Simple syrup,with food coloring, I mix up a batch and lasts me for about 3 refills for my small feeder...the coloring absolutely doe NOT harm the birds in any way, the return of my birds day after day, week after week, and year after year is proof. Do not be dictated to by city dwelling eco-bullies!

                                            37 Replies
                                            1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                              well BiscuitBoy, I know there are answers for each of those quandaries. To color or not to color.
                                              I'll be the first to say that some I put up have coloring due to clear glass, others no food coloring due to colored glass and the store bought stuff is a dark pink when mixed with water.

                                              I can also say that WE'VE NOT SEEN A SINGLE HUMMINGBIRD. we're very sad but hopeful.
                                              is there a song I can sing or a jig I can do to make them visit our home?

                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                It took a full season to get them coming to our house (also So. CA), but now they think they own it.

                                                1. re: pine time

                                                  "but now they think they own it."

                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                    You have given me hope!

                                                    My neighbor, two buildings down from me, has dozens of hummingbirds and about as many feeders. She said they have been coming each year since she has lived there.

                                                    In my building I have a feeder surrounded by many red flowers, the woman next door has two feeders in front with red liquid, and the other two units have a great many things in bloom. No sign of hummingbirds at all. Bees sometimes pause though.

                                                    Perhaps the neighbor with the hummingbirds keeps them so well fed that they don't venture past her deck? Any idea what size territory they prefer? I'm in the East, so fewer varieties than you have in Ca.

                                                    1. re: meatn3

                                                      My neighbor stopped feeding them due to ants. They finally started exploring new options!
                                                      They would visit my flowers but ignored my feeder.

                                                      My neighbor has several feeders of various styles but I noticed the birds only used one.
                                                      I purchased this style the other day and SUCCESS!

                                                      I am ridiculously happy. Here is a link to the feeder that worked for me:


                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                        you can buy ant guards, basically a little cup that sits above the feeder which you keep filled with water. Altho' Mr. Pine, being--ahem--economical--thought $6 for an ant guard was nuts, so he made his own from cut down single-serve plastic soft drink bottles. They really work. We now call 'em ant moats.

                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                          Yes. I told my neighbor about them but for whatever reason she wasn't interested. I'm just happy to have the hummingbirds make their way down to my place finally!

                                                          I am convinced that the styling of the feeder is crucial.

                                                        2. re: meatn3

                                                          I am convinced they are picky diners. they ignore fully half my feeders until they get less fussy or are starved but even if they're starved, I empty full feeders that have not been touched. like today I'll take down all of them and wash then reload and I'm dumping at least 3-4 feeders that are ignored. same solution and although I watch them buzz by the less favored ones they choose not to stop.

                                                          1. re: meatn3

                                                            I have one very similar to the one you bought, but I don't use it because it's too hard to clean the bottle.

                                                        3. re: pine time

                                                          This is true...once they find it, watch out! The jig may be interesting tho, might attract more than birds!

                                                          1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                            "The jig may be interesting tho, might attract more than birds!"
                                                            uh, what does that mean? you've got me concerned now, yikes!

                                                            WELL WE NOW HAVE LIFT OFF!!!!!
                                                            I am so excited.
                                                            One in front that I made new nectar for this morning, light green again by the way, seems to be very popular indeed. The one next to it is a different kind of feeder and so far nothing. One in the extra large tree in front yard, so far, I've seen nothing there either.
                                                            So I ventured in the back yard to put up the new feeder we bought for all the other birds in the area, that I'd gotten seeds for this morning after gym. I stuck it hanging from a big pine tree and an hour later there was a big bluejay sitting on the branch, guess he/she found it. I bought special extra good mix for that feeder. As I sat at the table on the patio in back yard, one of the hummingbird feeders had several little guys coming around and beaking it to death. One also hangs over my kitchen window and it also had a HB on it, but flew away when I moved to take a better pix of it. Oh, the light green one is nectar I made using = parts water&sugar and tiny bit pastel green food coloring (got that kind at Easter). The red one in the back yard is the store bought nectar. The one at the kitchen window is 1 part sugar to 4 parts water and light orange coloring.

                                                            All in all good news! Now if they only find the other 5 I'll be thrilled.

                                                            Everyone thanks for all your help.

                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                              Didn't I tell you 4 days ago they will find you in a few days and spread the word? O ye of little faith!

                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                Veggo, just call me doubting Thomas :)

                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                  Patience is your virtue, Il Divo! As another option, if you're in southern CA, plant salvias--they're a lovely plant (bush-like), and the hums love them. Our hums feed at both our sugar feeders and the salvias, being the little chowhounds (chowbirds?) that they are!

                                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                                    PineTime: I'm a lot of things but one thing the good Lord forgot to bless me with is much of that. But if it's any consolation I do have a massive amount of lilacs and many varieties and the humms love to nibble there. the photos I pulled up of salvias look similar. I should go online and see where salvias are sold....HD Lowes etc?

                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                      Yup, we've bought salvias at both HD and Lowe's. The hums favorite variety is called Hot Lips (white with a hot pink tip) that we found at Anderson's Nursery in San Diego. We re-did our entire yard for xerioscaping, but everything HAD to be hum or butterfly-attractant. Hey, just made up a word.

                                                                      1. re: pine time

                                                                        Look for any tubular flower--envision what that hummingbird beak would fit into nicely--and those are the ones they love.

                                                                        1. re: escondido123

                                                                          pine and escon

                                                                          you two are brill..........
                                                                          I'm going to Lowe's and Home Depository this morning after gym/car wash/oil change.

                                                                          here's a question for all the brills in here I've been wondering about.
                                                                          would it be smart (or not make a difference) if we changed out the locations of the feeders? the one on the front porch, that has light green nectar that I've refilled now two times, is definitely being used. but the one next to it is a different kind of feeder, turquoise in color so you can't see the nectar color inside, it's the store bought nectar I think, and hasn't been taped into/used.
                                                                          the one on the huge tree in the front yard is different also, it's a big round glass clear globe with a red bottom and big red cherries painted all over it. it can be seen from Mars it's so brilliant in color, but not being used as I've marked where it was originally filled to.
                                                                          two of them in the back yard are being used but barely and two are being ignored.

                                                                          my husband is a creature of habit and if it was up to him alone, he'd have gotten all feeders alike. he knows me though and knows that I like variety.

                                                                          so switch out the feeders and reposition to where we know and see they're being used. or leave where they are and hope for more activity later? also, is there a time when I need to empty the ones not being used and redo the nectar in them or are they ok, meaning is the sugar/water mix in there fine if it sits for a couple of weeks until they find the feeders?

                                                                          was in MalMarchay yesterday and they don't have the Baker's sugar. I bought regular sugar and I'll make the nectars now after first putting it in Cuisinart to make superfine sugar.

                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                            My experience is that hums really are attracted to red, whether in the feeder color itself or the water (but since I buy red feeders, I don't add coloring to the sugar water solution). We've found we need to clean the feeder/replace the syrup at least weekly. It would be an interesting experiment to switch the used/unsed feeders to see if the hums stay loyal to one type/color/placement. We find, since our guys are so territorial, that it helps to spread the feeders around the front, sides and back of the garden so more than one little selfish bugger can feed at a time. As Escondido wrote, any tubular flower works, but again, IMHO, they do prefer the red flowers.

                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                              Hummingbirds do not need tubular flowers to find their nectar. My garden is filled with everything that attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and everything else that I love. The shorter beaks of the varieties of hummingbirds in S Cal are an adaptation feature that reflects that.

                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                I had absolutely no luck with Lowe's or HD or Walmart yesterday regarding flowers that attract hummers. The man at Lowe's looked up (in his provided book and also on his iPhone Google feature) flowers that attract hummers and said they carried none of them currently. I didn't want to spend a truckload on hanging flower pots just to hope they'd work. I walked away with nothing.

                                                                                I'd like to take back the box of hummingbird powdery stuff that hubby bought because it gets the least attention of the feeders or none at all of late. but no receipt, so I'm stuck. I leave tomorrow on an obligation for many days so I want to have all the feeders newly washed and filled. I'm going to use = parts sugar and water when I do them today simply because someone on here mentioned that that solution may be the kicker in attracting them from the get go. then after I see they're being used [ < hopefully] I can change it to the 4-1 recipe. not going to use color either today on any of them and want to try moving them around also. the few that get attention will be swapped to same place but with different feeders. guess you could say I'm experimenting with if it'll make a difference if they will or won't still feed there if it's a different appearing feeder with colorless nectar.

                                                                                did I mention wanting to put the regular white sugar in the food processor to make it extra fine? thinking that'll dissolve more quickly.

                                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                  I'm sure granulated sugar's fine....I just happen to use Baker's for everything since I found it and like it.
                                                                                  If I were you I'd rely on my own judgment to come up with bushes/flowers/trees to attract the hummingbirds. Once they find you they'll love your garden and you'll find them happily zooming in/out, over/under and coming up to you and looking at you to see what you're doing :). They're amazing creatures and bring good luck to your garden.

                                                                                2. re: latindancer

                                                                                  No they don't have to be tubular, but in my garden those are the ones they like the most....and to me tubular does not mean particularly long just not the shape of say a daisy or rose. EDIT ADDITION I did some checking and the most important thing is flowers that produce a lot of nectar...though many are tubular there are many others, including the butterfly bush which I'm glad to say I have in the front yard.

                                                                                  1. re: escondido123

                                                                                    Right. Hummingbirds, to the surprise of many, spend most of their time sitting and observing and scoping out their surroundings. They are constantly searching for the perfect environment to feed from.
                                                                                    My garden is loaded with roses, flowering palms, citrus trees, milkweed (which is highly toxic) for the monarchs, butterfly bushes for the other butterflies and hundreds of different varieties of succulents and cactus that the hummingbirds go nuts for....most of the flowers are not tubular, however full of sweet nectar.
                                                                                    Bringing hummingbirds to our gardens requires patience and planning. Once they do come they never leave and will flourish.

                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                      For three years, we've had a hummingbird nest multiple times in our backyard. My husband caught this photo of a little one about to leave the nest.

                                                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                                                        I've only experienced it once and, to me, I felt honored to have had them there. We did the same as you....watching them build the nest and the whole entire progression from nest to flight. There were (2) babies.
                                                                                        This was last spring and they never did it again this spring. I'm curious...did they come back to the same area? Did you take the nest down the first time? I did because I know they're loaded with mites, etc...I'd love to see them do it again.

                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                          The sad thing is they have not returned to that spot this year. Year 1 they nested once/2 chicks. Year 2 they nested twice/4 chicks. Last year, they nested 3 times/6 chicks. (We left the nests. The first washed away over the first winter, the second stayed up. They built a new one each year right near the old one.) A few things got moved around in the yard so that might have change their nest spot but we know we have two pairs and I assume their hatching chicks in the trees.

                                                                                          1. re: escondido123

                                                                                            That is so awesome. The nested that many times in a season? Incredible. I guess leaving the nest (s) is a good idea then? If it ever happens again (hope hope) I'll not remove the nest.
                                                                                            Lucky for you :).

                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                              So jealous--only saw a nest once, in all the years we've been feeding the little guys.Il Divo, if it's ok to post, this nursery has a great list of native plants (that's mostly what we've used) that attract hums:


                                                                                              If the big box stores don't carry any of these, do you have an Armstrong's or Andersons?

                                                                                              We were told that a 3:1 is adequate sugar to begin attracting 'em, then 4:1. I also use just plain granulated sugar, but will use hot water for the first cup to dissolve the sugar better, then the rest of cold.

                                                                                              Wore red garden gloves yesterday, and had one sit on my finger--weighs nothing!

                                                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                                                Lucky pine time! THAT is amazing!

                                                                                                And all this hummingbird talk made me clean and fill my feeder, proudly on display for the first time this year. 4:1 ratio, no dye and not needed because my feeder is deep, dark red! Just need to get something red and flowering in my windowbox again. Last time around I had red obsession (type of verbena?)...but with or without, they find their way here.

                                                        4. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                          BiscuitBoy claims:
                                                          "...the coloring absolutely doe NOT harm the birds in any way, the return of my birds day after day, week after week, and year after year is proof. Do not be dictated to by city dwelling eco-bullies!"

                                                          That's just proof that the coloring doesn't _kill_ the birds. How exactly do you know that it doesn't harm them? There doesn't seem to be conclusive evidence in either direction, so why take a chance? The commercial mixes have red dye because they sell better that way.

                                                          1. re: Steve Green

                                                            Steve: we all know what red food coloring is made from right?
                                                            no wonder red velvet cake is something I'm not as fond of anymore.

                                                            1. re: Steve Green

                                                              Is there conclusive evidence in either direction that feeding hummingbirds at all increases their chances of being snapped up by a predator? Causes them to speed into a car windshield? My grandparents success, my parents success, and my success in keeping hummies is ALL the evidence I need....sell your propaganda somewhere else steve-o

                                                              1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                "My grandparents success, my parents success, and my success in keeping hummies is ALL the evidence I need....sell your propaganda somewhere else steve-o"

                                                                oh you're funny BB.........hahahhaahah

                                                              2. re: Steve Green

                                                                re: the red food coloring controversy:


                                                                Also there's anecdotal evidence that hummingbirds prefer plain nectar and will choose it over the red food coloring ( one common example is 2-naphthalenesulfonic acid, 6-hydroxy-5-((2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo)-, disodium salt, and disodium 6-hydroxy-5-((2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo)-2-naphthalenesulfonate ). Apparently the birds don't like the taste of the red food coloring, and prefer plain sugar water.

                                                                1. re: Steve Green

                                                                  Cornell's Laboratory of Ornithology and the US Geological Survey both say "no dye". I, at least, shall bow to the experts on this one.

                                                                  1. re: Steve Green

                                                                    Apparently our birds haven't read the anectodal evidence...they prefer red to clear :)

                                                              3. I use a ratio of one part water and one part sugar and hang it high amidst plants that attract them...
                                                                Every year for the past several years i've had the same hummingbirds come back to my home. Last year we watched a pair build a nest in a low branch of one of my trees and experienced the entire process until the (2) babies were taught to fly and leave. It was, without a doubt, one of the most amazing things to watch...
                                                                I've read here that some people don't use food-coloring...there's no evidence the coloring harms the birds. For those who don't have the plants that attract them....it's the color of the water that'll bring them and I know many bird lovers who use it.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                  appreciate your input Latindancer....
                                                                  I just want to see the little guys around my house.
                                                                  we did everything right so I'm not sure where they are hanging out but it's not here.
                                                                  we do have hummingbirds because as I've said they drink from our water features, all of our water features and they have buzzed me before when I've worn my Antique Vanilla Lace oil.

                                                                2. I just use table sugar. 1/4 cup of sugar in a cup of hot tap water. Stir to dissolve and then fill the feeder.

                                                                  1. We have two areas for hummingbirds. Use a 1:4 sugar/hot water mixture. We do not boil or add food coloring. Sometimes have 20-30 hummers buzzing around. They've gotten so brazen that they will return to the feeders while we are still hanging them up. Currently go through 25 pounds of sugar every 2-3 months. The funny thing is that we have several birds that "think" that they're hummers...

                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                    1. re: justanotherpenguin

                                                                      Yup, we get "dive bombed" by our hums while we're filling their feeders. However, ours are super territorial, and one has taken up a watch-post on a tall tomato cage and quickly chases out any interlopers. There's enough feeders and solution to feed 1000 hums, but he thinks it's all for him. We even found a little garden sign saying "hum haven" that describes our yard well. Even our plants are all hum/butterfly friendly.

                                                                      1. re: pine time

                                                                        hey pine, love that story, imagine that, little hummingbirds buckin their shoulders up and getting all puffed up over who's feeder it really is..............

                                                                        hubby just went to work @ 'early 30" again and we were talking about the [still] lack of hummers around the house. one of our feeders only has 1 1/2" left of nectar and it's not dripping, we checked so something is devouring it but we've not seen any humms.

                                                                        question: it's 5:30am here when hubby left and I asked him if it's too early for them to be up and awake, I know, sounds so dumb. do you see yours all hours of the day and early evening? is it too early to go outside with my coffee and hope to see them?

                                                                        also: we have the wind chimes as described as well as Mardi Gras beads from NOLA hanging from the trees but only 6 beads, they were my moms so I think of her when I see them+they make no noise. we also have 6 blank colored CD's that hang from the Jacaranda trees that create colors on the block walls when the sun hits just right. do you think maybe that it is too much a distraction and is keeping them away?
                                                                        the way you describe your hummers is that they are fearless.

                                                                        I'll make a batch of nectar [of = parts of water to sugar, plus a little color to really lure] before I go to the gym in a few minutes to fill up the one that only about 1 1/2" left. I'll mark it with scotch tape so I can monitor the level and then I'll cross my fingers.

                                                                        1. re: iL Divo

                                                                          Mr Pine and I are early birds, so we do see hums just after day-light, but they're more active here (San Diego, inland) after maybe 7 a.m. Yes, they are pretty fearless, and they stand their ground with the big birds who come to the seed feeders. Some folks say they like some "cover" of bushes, trees, but our back yard is quite open. Even with a few bushes nearby, the one still protects his stash of feeders from the tomato cage. There's a fun magazine called Birds & Blooms, and this month's cover & feature is about hums--maybe you can find a copy?

                                                                          1. re: pine time

                                                                            I'll look at Barnes and Noble today after the gym............... thanks Pine...........

                                                                            I've seen humms in the Italian Cyprus trees that line our side yard and are about 40' tall. they dodge in ad our of there and there are no flowers in there to stick their beaks into so I don't know why they buzz there. also you mentioned other birds coming around the feeders. that's a question I was going to ask you about 'other birds'. our land is @ 3200 feet and to say we have birds a plenty, is an understatement. but from what you say 'the mmers' are fine with other birds being around, so I won't worry about the BlueJays, Morning Doves, Owls, Catbombers or Big Giant flying black buffalos.

                                                                            our son is in SD and his patio is gorgeous. I think I now know what to get him and his wife for their anniversary :) . . . thanks Pine

                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                              Hummers eat insects, that is probably what they are doing around the Cyprus trees.

                                                                              1. re: BeefeaterRocks

                                                                                oh well that makes sense, thanks gindrinker :)
                                                                                ok update:
                                                                                hubby and I left early and got home after dark last few days so we had no opportunity to see Amy humm's.
                                                                                liquid@about same levels as a few days ago.
                                                                                did they leave us? do they hate us? do others have better nectar? prettier feeders?
                                                                                should I buy about 7 heavily colored hanging flower pots and stick them by feeders so the 'all' get the hint what's goin on here? or se la vie and rest it be as us and hope for better turnout next year. or as one so aptly put it earlier in thread:
                                                                                patience is a virtue

                                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                  They'll be back, they are fickle just like the American public, dashing off in pursuit of the to the latest shiny object.

                                                                    2. Here's a great PBS video about hummers of the world. It is truly fascinating, and very informative. It is about an hour long I think. I first saw it about 2years ago, and it has been on again recently around here in MA. Enjoy.

                                                                      I am of the 4 to 1 mixture with no coloring.


                                                                      1. Once your birds are used to your feeders you can hold the feeder in your hand, in the place it normally hangs, & the birds will eventually come in & feed pretty much like normal. It sometimes helps to take down the other feeders.

                                                                        Please, no food coloring. Use feeders with some red on them.

                                                                        Researchers have color-marked hummers & have found that for each bird you can see at any given time another 5 are tucked away in the foliage. So if you think you have 4 birds, you're actually feeding about 24.


                                                                        1. We have two of these hummingbird feeders, one right on our back deck, the other about 15-20 feet away. The reason I put two feeders out is because the birds can sometimes be aggressive toward each other, and if one gets chased away by another, there's another feeder nearby where they can go. The little hummers LOVE it and they come by all day long and into the evening. They're attracted to the red color of the feeders. These feeders are especially good because they have a small well in the center that I fill with plain water. It traps any crawling insects that are attracted to the nectar. I bought these feeders at a local store called Wild Birds Unlimited -- they're also online.

                                                                          I use a homemade mixture of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Add the sugar to the water, heat it until it boils, stir to dissolve and cool before filling the feeder. NO food coloring. I change the nectar and clean the feeders weekly.

                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                                                            Glad your feeder is working well. We bought one of these at Wild Birds Unlimited, too (fun store), but that stick in the middle broke off on maybe the 3rd day. The design idea--moat in the middle--is good, but we found it flimsy.

                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                              I've had my h'bird feeders for several years now, and haven't had any problem with either one. That stick in the middle is metal and screws in, so maybe there was a defect in the plastic part it screws in to. As for the moat in the middle -- it's molded in, not a separate part, and it's therefore as sturdy as the entire feeder is.

                                                                              I hope you know that almost all products sold by WBU carry a lifetime warranty, and they're really good about honoring it. I had an old finch feeder that cracked. When I brought it in to ask if they sold a replacement part, they gave me a brand new feeder at no cost.

                                                                              1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                Shoot, didn't know about WBU warranty. Oh well, Mr. Pine likes making his homemade ant moats, altho' they're hardly attractive. Thanks, Cindy!

                                                                            2. re: CindyJ

                                                                              These are the feeders we have too. 4:1 sugar and we've been boiling it (just to a boil only, not sure why or where we read about it), make up a quart or two at a time and keep in the fridge. No coloring. If you get a feeder with no ant moat there are separate ant moats you can buy that have an integrated hanging system. You hang the moat from the hook and then the feeder from the moat.

                                                                              Whatever feeder you get should have red on the feeding part, and not yellow. Yellow will attract bees! Only red seems to truly attract the hummingbirds from what I've read and what I've seen, the yellow is not necessary. Red flowers are good too. They will go to other flower colors but I've watched them seek out the red ones.

                                                                              Once they know the feeder is there you can be outside and they will still come to a feeder just a few feet away from you, as long as you're mostly quiet at least. (Some other birds will also do this at a regular seed feeder, like chickadees, etc.) Also don't be afraid to hang a hummingbird feeder right in front of your window. They will not be put off by the proximity to the house, and you can get a good closeup view without really disturbing them most of the time.

                                                                              1. re: CrazyOne

                                                                                thanks for the advice Crazy, appreciate it............
                                                                                we seem to notice a few more today.
                                                                                one finally showed up at the ultra large tree in front yard with huge globe ball and lots of red painted on it.

                                                                                1. re: CrazyOne

                                                                                  I've got a feeder right on my deck, just a few feet from a table and next to two chairs, and the h'birds aren't at all shy about feeding while we're right there.

                                                                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                    DDIL and I were sitting on front porch late afternoon yesterday when out of nowhere a 'mmer'' came buzzing over our heads. we ducked (they're loud little schnoogs) I referred to it as a flying buffalo. plugged right in to the feeder above our heads.

                                                                                    pretty little thing-green/blue/purple with small amount of orange on chest.

                                                                              2. The correct ratio is one part sugar to 4 parts water. No coloring is necessary and I personally would never add it. The red feeders attract the birds fine. I make up a 1 cup sugar/ 4 cup water batch at a time. You can dissolve the sugar in about 1-2 cups of water over the heat. It will not need to boil. Then add your remaining water. Wait for it to reach room temp, which happens faster if you only warm part of the water.

                                                                                Until your hummingbirds find your feeder and start feeding in larger numbers, you should only add about a cup at a time. When it starts to look milky you need to wash the container and add more nectar.

                                                                                In the evenings now, I get such a magnificent number of hummingbirds that I actually videotaped them to show on Facebook.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Becca Porter

                                                                                  Becca, this is a reason I'd like to use Facebook but can't.
                                                                                  and thanks for the heads up about only doing a small amount of nectar in the vessel because the amount of sugar I've used and ended up dumping is really dumb on my part. I've written down where the nectar came to on each of the feeders so I'd see how far it goes down, and the only thing that's gone down is my checking account :;-/

                                                                                  Again the interest in the feeders has waned.
                                                                                  Dang, I'll change the water/sugar again today, as I see a ton of "mmers" for whatever reason, they are not frequenting our feeders now.
                                                                                  the regular bird bird feeder I fill once a day, as they are chowhounds and love their munchies.
                                                                                  the bluejays and morning doves look so funny standing trying to balance on it and are huge food hogs. The smaller birds stand at bay until they big dudes vacate then they go in for their meal. pretty cute...

                                                                                  1. re: Becca Porter

                                                                                    I recently saw a You Tube video where hummers were drinking nectar directly from people's outstretched hands. Then they poured a small amount of nectar into what looked like red jar covers and held those out in their hands, and the hummers swarmed around and drank from them.

                                                                                    Although I see lots of hummingbirds at my feeders, I rarely see more than one bird at a feeder at any one time. In fact, they seem to chase each other away. But they do feed all day long and well into the evening. They're so much fun to watch.

                                                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                      When I was late at putting out the feeder in the morning at my mountain house the hummers would circle me and stare me down with scorn. They were angry.
                                                                                      As to the 4-1 water-to-sugar mix, that water has to go somewhere. My friend's father was visiting, and he was sitting on the deck near the feeder with his great big bulbous whiskey nose, and a hummer dropped a whole load of hummer pee on it.

                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                        We have feeders at our weekend cottage and like Veggo's, mine also get angry if I dare sit down for a glass of wine before filling their feeder. They will buzz me and then hover right in front of my face. Our feeder is right next to my chair and they seem to have no fear or concern about our presence.

                                                                                  2. I've switched out nectar many times now including all 8 of them a few hours ago. seems like a huge waste of sugar (and effort as hubby's height is needed, I'm too short to be of any service in that respect). seriously they only really desire one of the feeders. it's the only one with an added 'ring' so they can perch instead of remaining in flight. I have a mind to go to Home Depository and buy the typical feeders of clear plastic tube and red plastic flower shaped beek inserters. they're only $5 whereas the ones hubby bought are almost pieces of glass art and they seem to have zero interest in them. plus they were between $12-$22.

                                                                                    I know from reading in here they can take a few seasons to frequent an area or your feeders. why is it though that they fly up to them all-take a looksie, and fly away disinterested?

                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                        Are the openings big enough for them to get their beaks into the 'nectar'?

                                                                                        1. re: OCEllen

                                                                                          OC, oh yes they seem standard size holes for ample beak inserting.

                                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                            We even get orioles (the males are SO colorful) at our hum feeders, so even they can get a beakful.

                                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                                              The hooded orioles here are regulars, too!

                                                                                              1. re: OCEllen

                                                                                                OC you and pine, must live other than southern California.
                                                                                                didn't know what they looked like so I took a looksie: google imaging


                                                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                  I'm in San Diego county. Orioles are very shy, but have a distinctive sound, so I get a quick look at the hum feeder when I hear the oriole's song. We bought specific oriole feeders (orange), but the birds didn't like them, prefering the hums' feeders instead.

                                                                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                                                                    "We bought specific oriole feeders (orange), but the birds didn't like them, prefering the hums' feeders instead."
                                                                                                    who knew birds could be such stinkers.......

                                                                                      2. 2 of our HB feeders leak so I took them down, filled them with new nectar and rehung.
                                                                                        They are the really fancy big globed ones. HD doesn't carry them any longer so all they had were the plastic one that hubby hates, and apparently so do the H'mmers because they still have the nectar in there and all others are empty. I tried the method that someone suggested in here about using a treat the mmer's would like by adding vanilla, to my knowledge the activitiy seemed the same.

                                                                                        CindyJ, I saw those exact kind that your picture shows at either HD or Lowe's. I didn't buy them but maybe I should have instead of the plastic dumb ones I did buy.

                                                                                        One thing I've noticed is that when I come outside, they talk or yak at me. Almost like they're telling me "more food please lady, and quick!" I hear them in all the trees, their voices are very distinct. And again I've watched the aggressive ones shoo off other would be feeders and the newbies do scoot away in terror :()

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                          This is kind of funny. A few times over the weekend, we had hummers kind of hover right near us as we sat at the table on the deck. They were right there, under the umbrella for a short while, and then they continued on over to one of the two feeders we have on the deck. At one point, one of them was not more than 2 feet in front of me.

                                                                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                            Count me in as smitten with my hummingbirds! "Ours" are very social and more than once, I thought they were going to land on my head and shoulder. There are several males that will start by hovering close to my ear and then move around front to stare directly at me while hovering for several seconds.

                                                                                            There are very small ones trying to get to the feeder right now but keep getting chased off. They are considerably smaller than the others and I wonder if they are this years babies.

                                                                                            We have a cheapy glass feeder with a plastic base with four holes. Two of the four landing pegs have broken off but they seem to be evenly divided on hovering versus sitting while feeding.

                                                                                        2. For the past 8 years, I've had hummers year round. Use a 4:1 ratio also. Had luck attracting them to my deck by gowing huge pots of any kind of salvia, fucshias and butterfly bushes. Live on the coast in NC, where the winters can actually get quite cold. The sugar/water has frozen before. Solved this by purchasing a second feeder and just switch it out. Have only used plastic feeders as the glass ones make the water mix goes rancid quicker, in the heat of the summer.

                                                                                          1. Interesting how everyone is going with 4:1. The instructions on our Droll Yankee feeder specify 5:1, and that's what we've been feeding our happy little buzz-birds for several years now. We now have a higher-capacity feeder in place, but I never fill it more than a quarter full, because I don't want the stuff to be in there long enough to get moldy. When it does start showing black or grey specks I dump it. give it a good cleaning out with hot water and bleach (surefire mold killer) and then rinse it really well before refilling.

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                              That's good to know. I burn through enough sugar on my own pretty quickly, nevermind feeding the birds! I will give it a go my next batch. Thanks!

                                                                                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                                                Same here--we fill any size feeder with only about 1/3 c. of solution at a time to avoid the mold syndrome. Even after we clean feeders with a bleach solution and rinse like mad, we also leave the clean, emply feeder in the sun for a day to air out, so we always have a rotation of filled and soon-to-be-filled feeders ready.

                                                                                                1. re: pine time

                                                                                                  I remember reading one time that you should never use bleach, especially with hummer feeders. It suggested using vinegar instead. Has always worked for me. Not harmful to the hummers.

                                                                                                  1. re: Phoebe

                                                                                                    I only put in a cup of sugar water at a time so I'm refilling twice a week. I got a tiny brush to clean things out but use only hot water and no soap or bleach since I understood the smell/taste of both of those could keep hummers away. Seems to work fine for me.

                                                                                              2. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                my last batch of nectar was 5-1 simply because I was too tired to measure correctly and figured if they don't drink they hate it and I'll concentrate better next time. they're empty.

                                                                                              3. I lost track of time the other day and didn't take down or refill the feeders but did yesterday.
                                                                                                I hornswaggled my husband into taking them down and I'd wash and refill if he'd put all back up.
                                                                                                he did and we did.
                                                                                                so far, the stinkers must have forgotten that there was ever any nectar in them because I'm watching and looking and calling them [when they're around the yak at me when I go outside]
                                                                                                and they're scarce.
                                                                                                hope it's not the extra added yummy I sneaked into their nectar. thought I'd already posted it here but can't find it. anyway, a few days will tell if they're still here or not.

                                                                                                I read on here somewhere that their time is fleeting as they are on a migratory venture soon.
                                                                                                so will I be seeing less and less of them and then will they be gone through the winter?

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                  Not even less and less. They pretty much pack their little suitcases and all leave on the same day, just like Lindsay Lohan. The date depends on your latitude and altitude. I'm not sure where your Scudville is, but they will return next April or May.

                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                    oh Veggo, I was afraid of that. just yesterday they were out talking to me. I try to mimic their little cheeping/chirping noise and yesterday they were flying around like mini buffalo. and when they come close I startle a bit. < they're noisy. hope it's later than sooner that they depart.

                                                                                                    about my location, very southern California and at 3200 ft.
                                                                                                    SCUDville is associated with my screen name which is il divo. SCUD is a name I made up for "my boys" as I call them and they know that as I've told them at numerous times I've had the good fortune of talking with them outside a concert. SCUD > Sebastien Carlos Urs David.........so that answers that and the rest of what I wrote in my location is something I won't expound on. thanks for noticing though and thanks for your input on this thread, I've certainly learned a lot here.

                                                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                      Also in southern CA, but sea-level, but our hums stay year-round. Just cleaned & refilled 8 feeders yesterday. The orioles also try to feed at 'em, altho' their beaks are a touch too fat. Hollowed out most of an orange, filled w/ grape jelly, and the orioles are thrilled (sadly, so are the ants).

                                                                                                      1. re: pine time

                                                                                                        Gee, I wonder why il Divo's hummers don't simply glide down the hill for the winter, rather than fly internationally....

                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                          I'm surprised that they leave at all but I do get snow every year. maybe flying in freezing air isn't too welcoming.

                                                                                                2. This link has an interesting article and videa which show how the hummingbird drinks - not through capillary action as once believed.


                                                                                                  1. My friend who is a hummingbird expert has a half-dozen feeders and goes through 2 gallons of 4:1 nectar every day. On any given day, there are 75 to 200 hummers flitting about the yard. The buzzing of their wings sounds like a beehive, and the air around your head is sometimes so breezy from the wings beating that you can feel it in your hair.
                                                                                                    She uses the standard glass and red plastic feeders - nothing special.

                                                                                                    Her yard is also a Certified Butterfly Habitat, and she is a member of Monarchs Across America, so you can imagine the activity around the flowers, too, between the hummers and the butterflies. People come from miles around just to sit on her back patio under the pergola and let the hummers swarm around their heads.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                      That is a very nice friend to have--I can almost picture myself there. :) That is A LOT OF SUGAR! Wonder how many pounds she goes through in a season?

                                                                                                    2. jm~
                                                                                                      what state is your friend in?
                                                                                                      what a treat that has to be.
                                                                                                      I was outside an hour ago and saw about 7 'mmers flying in back yard.
                                                                                                      I went out there because I heard them yakkin and hadn't heard them in a week or more.
                                                                                                      funny thing is these that I saw today are different colors than earlier in summer.
                                                                                                      and they must be boys because they're beautiful and look like miniature peacocks, brilliantly colored.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                        My friend is in West Georgia. The migrants have been coming through, and yes, the boys are beautiful, aren't they?

                                                                                                        1. re: jmcarthur8

                                                                                                          well they're either back or never left just slept a few months. lotsa boys not nearly as many lady's

                                                                                                      2. loved these recent reports. thank you all for chiming in.
                                                                                                        ours have never hung around long enough for me to get a look at any of them let alone be close enough like Mutti is to know a girl 'mmer has a white dot on her nose. I'm envious Mutti.
                                                                                                        for the last couple of weeks, my husband and I have been in and out at various events-his birthday, we always are gone about a week around 911, our friends race cars events < Sacramento, Bakersfield etc. so we've sort of ignored the feeders. plus their constant chatter had all but gone away. when I saw a few flying around and heard them 'talking' I went out side and saw a few. I had refilled 4 of the 8 feeders because they kind of ignored the plastic jobbies that I'd filled with clear nectar and not wanting to keep wasting the sugar if they don't want it, I filled the 4 others and they've been sippin away at it. I think you're all right that they're passin through on their way to
                                                                                                        greener pastures. but those colorful beauties are amaze-balls, can not believe the colors!

                                                                                                        1. I'm a slow learner-realizing that like most of you have said the 'mmers like certain spots.
                                                                                                          I've seen my pretty boy on the same pin hair thin tiny branch last few days in a row.
                                                                                                          today I was filling the regular bird feeder on the patio table and was being dive bombed by a few hummers. they are so loud when they do their fly-byes.

                                                                                                          1. they're still not all gone thankfully.
                                                                                                            they also continue to eat out of certain feeders while others.
                                                                                                            one of the plastic feeders has completely been taken over (by bees) that they've emptied.
                                                                                                            when the hummers go near it they quickly pass by realizing perhaps the danger of being stung.
                                                                                                            smart little fella's.

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                              Our last Hummer was about a week ago, but georgiahummers.com says to keep the feeders up all winter for the late travelers.

                                                                                                            2. NO food coloring.
                                                                                                              i have tons of them.
                                                                                                              you just have to make sure that something on the feeder near the feeding hole is red.
                                                                                                              i usually put a couple of little strips of red tape near the feeding holes if the feeder didn't come properly "color coded."

                                                                                                              i use tap water and "vegan" sugar.

                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                what's vegan sugar?
                                                                                                                are you a 3 to 1 person or a 4 to 1? I've stopped measuring this season, rather wing it.

                                                                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                  Still cool in my area for their return. I see westside's vegan sugar and raise my hormone-free, locally grown, free range, organic, cold pressed, fair trade sugar

                                                                                                                  1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                    Where are you located? East of the Mississippi, the ruby throated hummingbirds have been spotted almost everywhere. http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html

                                                                                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                      Connecticut..Still have some cold nights, not sure the little guys would like

                                                                                                                      1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                                        we had nights and days that were 28┬░ just two weeks ago.
                                                                                                                        we thought the cold was gone, it was not. at that time, they still came out only judging by the the nector that was depleated.

                                                                                                                  2. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                    vegan sugar is sugar that is not filtered using bone char.

                                                                                                                    i wing it too.
                                                                                                                    i wash and replace the syrup whenever i suspect any mold has formed.
                                                                                                                    the mold tends to form faster when the weather is warmer.

                                                                                                                2. "Cheap" feeder, 4:1, with coloring and they're back!

                                                                                                                  1. We had our first hummer sighting here in southeastern PA over the weekend. I put the feeders out about three weeks ago after looking at the hummingbird migration map (http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html). I used my usual sugar/water mix (4:1 water:sugar; no coloring necessary), It's likely they've been here for a while, but this past weekend was the first time we were out on the deck for any length of time, and that's where my feeders are.

                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                      that map doesn't show my state so maybe we don't have them here. I probably should stick to the same nectar ratio every time which I don't do. at this point, I simply add *some* amount of sugar to the water in the saucepan. poor little guys/gals, think it confuses them. I've even added a simple syrup of strained naval orange or vanilla to entice. the coloring added apparently isn't a big deal but I have little buggers here that sometimes are very fickle. not sure the color matters but...............

                                                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                        That migration map is specifically for ruby throated hummingbirds, which, as far as I know, are the only hummers found east of the Mississippi. West of the Mississippi there are other varieties, so if that's where you are, you might want to google other migration maps.

                                                                                                                        As for your nectar, it's easy enough to make up a batch of 4:1. That seems to be the recommended ratio, most likely because it works.

                                                                                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                                                          "As for your nectar, it's easy enough to make up a batch of 4:1. That seems to be the recommended ratio, most likely because it works"

                                                                                                                          yah, but why would I do something just because it works?
                                                                                                                          I've never even made my favorite food, spaghetti, ┬░foolishly┬░
                                                                                                                          the same way twice. I'm funnin with ya here Cindy, and honestly I should just stick to a formula and not deviate from it..........you are exactly correct.
                                                                                                                          think I'll resist my temptation and give that a try for say, a month and no coloring in there either, now 'that's' gonna be hard. < you see, I collect food coloring :)))))

                                                                                                                          I will say I think the nectar flavored with honey instead of sugar was a bad move on my part ;-( duh............

                                                                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                            Not sure about your high desert location, but most of SoCal only gets the Anna hums.

                                                                                                                            And on the ratio: I thought I was being nice to the hums by keeping up with a 3:1 mixture. Later read that that's too sweet, and actually isn't healthy for them, something about the need for a 4:1 balance of water for adequate hydration. So, it's 3:1 to attract 'em, and 4:1 after that.

                                                                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                              pine time:
                                                                                                                              you are so helpful -thank you.
                                                                                                                              I am not sure it's even a 4-1 I do now. it could be without measuring more like 5-1.
                                                                                                                              I'm gonna look up Anna mmers and see if they're familiar. they are brown&small assuming those are girls then the others are bigger and colorful and love to dive bomb me. thanks again PT

                                                                                                                    2. last several weeks we're noticing a new to us variety of hummingbirds. Don't know if it's a family of them or just passing through to Mexico but the sound they make is different as are their colors/markings. Fun to see new kind in the area.
                                                                                                                      Referring to Rufous hummingbirds.

                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                        I'm jealous. We get only the Anas--love them, but would be fun to get a variety.

                                                                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                          pine-Ana's are all we've seen too-these little guys are speedy, loud, and lovely.
                                                                                                                          love it when they perch on the 'landing gear' :)

                                                                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                            In Colorado @9000 feet we had mostly ruby throated, but I had one outlier that was a bright copper color, like a new penny. I don't know what type it was.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                              Rufies are brilliant orange, in good light, male Rufous Hummingbirds glow like coals: bright orange on the back and belly, with a vivid iridescent-red throat. Females are green above with rufous-washed flanks, rufous patches in the green tail, and often a spot of orange in the throat. I always have a migration in late May & June, headed north I think. They ravish my feeders and terrorize my Anas.

                                                                                                                              1. re: BeefeaterRocks

                                                                                                                                Thanks, my outlier must have been a male Rufous with that description. And he did not play well with others.
                                                                                                                                I posted early in this thread I made a 4-1 mixture.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                  4:1 sugar water per the bird feel store Boil, dissolve, cool. No color. The color is on the feeder and that is what attracts them.

                                                                                                                              2. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                I think it was like the ones I talking about. today I was in the backyard watching the turtle roam wild and getting some sun while writing a long email. I heard the unfamiliar sound of the newbies because their sound is nothing like the Ana's. he scared the life out of about 10 Ana's at a time-he was fierce-they were scared. he's also bigger

                                                                                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                  I did Google them. They are pretty and quite distinctive looking, but they are known to be bullies around the feeder.