Hummingbirds are fascinating and beautiful, lots of us enjoy seeing them around our homes and in our gardens. These precious little birds are great pollinators and make any yard more fun.
However, just because you put up a feeder doesn’t mean you are helping them out. Many people simply put their feeder out and do not bother to clean it or refill it as often as they should. You see, if you do not take the necessary steps to provide healthy nectar and clean feeders these hummingbirds could literally die.
These hummingbird feeders have to be kept free of mold and fungus as it can cause serious infections and be fatal to these adorable little creatures. The main fungal infection they can get is something that causes their tongues to swell making it impossible for them to feed. Yes, not keeping your feeder clean could force a hummingbird to starve to death.
The possible negative outcomes don’t stop there either if you don’t change your nectar out as needed the nectar will ferment. If a hummingbird eats fermented nectar it can cause liver damage. It is very important that when you are purchasing a bird feeder you get one that is easy to clean.
When it comes to cleaning your feeder flushing it with hot water is the best place to start, you should then use a bottle brush to scrub the insides well. Please avoid using any kind of soap as it will leave a residue. Vinegar is great to use when rinsing. Always inspect your feeders thoroughly for mold. If you notice mold you don’t have to throw your feeder out just boil it in a gallon of water with about a fourth cup of bleach for an hour.
I myself do not buy nectar from the store, I make my own. It is actually quite easy and you will never have to question whether what you are using is safe for the birds or not.
Homemade Hummingbird Nectar
- White cane sugar
- Bring a pot of water to boil (I use four to six parts water as I fill several feeders.)
- Mix cane sugar in (ordinary cane sugar, for the six parts water I use about two parts cane sugar.)
- Stir the sugar in order to dissolve it.
- Then turn off the stove and allow the solution to cool to room temperature before filling the feeder.
You see, by boiling the water you are also slowing the fermentation process of the nectar itself. The hummingbirds will add healthy microbes to this as they feed and it will become even healthier for these pretty birds. If you notice the nectar has become cloudy it is time to change it. This solution will spoil in about two or three days and will need to be changed. If you want to avoid wasting nectar only fill the feeder as much as the birds will ingest over the two or three-day time frame. You can refrigerate the excess and it should stay usable for a few weeks.
If you want these amazing little birds to stick around you need to take good care of them. Please take this into consideration as summer is approaching and spring is here. They will appreciate what you do for them.