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Hummingbird feeders dispense liquid, not seeds. The mainstay of a hummingbird’s diet is made up of insects and spiders. The liquid in your feeder is more like emergency rations to your birds. During a typical day a hummingbird will collect nectar from about 100 different flowers. They avoid flowers with nectar containing less than 25 percent sugar.
History of hummingbird feeders
No one knows for certain how long people have been trying to attract hummingbirds to their gardens. Perhaps for as long as mankind has had an appreciation for beauty. The hummingbird has definitely been around for a long while. Fossilized humming bird remains recently found in Germany date back 30 million years! Today, hummingbirds only exist in the new world. With their lightning speed and jewel like iridescent feathers they have always captured man’s imagination. One of the mysterious geoglyphs, (huge pictures etched into the silt on the Nazca Plain of Peru), is a hummingbird. So vast that it is only visible from the air, this hummingbird dates back to 200BC-600AD and is surely the world’s largest hummingbird.
The first commercial hummingbird feeder was introduced in 1950 by the Audubon Novelty Company of Medina, New York. It was a glass tube type of feeder and immediately became popular in the U.S. It was designed by Laurence J. Webster of Boston, as a gift for his wife, who had read an article in a 1928 edition of The National Geographic Magazine. The story mentioned that it was possible to feed hummingbirds from a small glass bottle. Webster designed a feeder and had it produced by a glassblower at MIT. The August, 1947 edition of National Geographic Magazine featured an article by Harold Edgerton who, using his newly invented strobe flash, photographed hummingbirds at Webster’s feeder. The rest, as they say, is history. Considering Webster’s success, men should listen more closely to their wives!
Modern hummingbird feeders
During the 50 plus years that have followed the introduction of that first feeder, many styles and designs have come and gone. Today, feeders are usually made of ceramic, glass, plastic, or a combination of these materials. For the most part, they are divided into two types, bowl feeders and bottle feeders.
Here are some important considerations when selecting a hummingbird feeder;
Color is important. Red is the color of choice. Most of the flowers that are the hummingbird’s natural source of nectar are red, pink, or coral colored. Do not use a feeder that has yellow parts, yellow attracts bees.
Select a feeder designed to be bee-proof unless you want to attract bees instead of hummingbirds.
Select a feeder that offers the hummingbird a perch. While hummingbirds normally hover in front of a flower during feeding, they much prefer to rest as they feed. While they stay at an individual flower for mere seconds, gathering the little nectar that is there, they will stay at the feeder until they have drunk their fill. Treat them to a sit-down meal.
A feeder with a bottle reservoir protects the nectar from bacterial infection, contamination from insects and spoilage. This is important to protect the hummingbird’s health.
Select a feeder that is easy to disassemble, clean and refill. Maintaining a supply of fresh, clean nectar is vitally important to the well being of your hummingbirds.
Choose a feeder that has an ant moat, or similar device to keep insects from contaminating the nectar in your feeder.
Fancy glass and ceramic feeders are attractive, but due to their design they are difficult to clean and tend to drip, which attracts bees, ants and wasps. These insects can become trapped in the feeder, contaminating the nectar.
The National Audubon Society recommends cleaning your feeder once a week. To clean your feeder use 1/4 cup of white vinegar to 1 cup of water. After cleaning, rinse the feeder 3 times with fresh water.
Placement of your Feeder
Where you hang your feeder is almost as important as which feeder you choose. Here are some tips about hummingbird feeder placement.
Put your feeder where it will be noticed by the hummingbirds and will be easily accessible to them. Do not be concerned if the birds don’t show up immediately. Hummingbirds are extremely inquisitive. They will find it.
If possible, do not put your feeder close to your window. They may injure themselves by flying into the glass. If you have no other option, place pictures, or decals, of larger birds on your window to prevent the hummingbirds from getting too close.
Definitely place your feeder where you can see it. The antics of these tiny miracles of nature are better than anything you will see on cable TV unless you are watching a show about hummingbirds.
If you replace your old feeder with a new one leave the old one hanging empty next to the new feeder for a while, until the hummingbirds recognize it as a new source of food.
hummingbirds and our hummingbird feeder at our website.