Sunday, March 19, 2017

Time to Feed the Hummingbirds

Time to feed the hummingbirds. Here's what you need to know. |
It's only mid-March, but the weather here in the mid-South decided to warm up for spring break, so I decided to get ready for visitors. Hummingbird visitors, that is. Yes, it's time to feed the hummingbirds!

To make sure I wasn't rushing things, I turned to a very helpful online hummingbird migration map that shows sightings of the beloved and easily-recognized ruby-throated hummingbird. Sure enough, there are three sightings already mapped in our state this year with one not very far south of us. I would be so thrilled to have a dot on the map to represent a sighting that we make in our own yard! I fully believe that could happen over the coming week with the predicted calm weather pattern and high temperatures in the 80s and lows well above freezing. But first, I need to make a batch of hummingbird food and get a feeder filled.

This male ruby-throated hummingbird's bright red throat makes him easy to spot. |

Recipe for Hummingbird Food

I use a simple recipe of four parts water and one part sugar to offer to our birds. No color, no additives, just clean measuring cups and one of the pitchers that I dedicate to hummingbird food every summer.

Just boil the water, measure out 1/4 cup of sugar into the pitcher for each cup of water that you plan on using, then stir the hot water into the sugar until it's fully dissolved. During the summer when I make a large quantity at a time, I add just enough of the boiling water to dissolve the sugar then finish adding the proper amount of cool water so the mixture will cool down faster.

Fill your clean hummingbird feeders and put them out for the birds, then refrigerate the leftovers for up to a couple of weeks. If you have an active population of birds, you may need to refill the feeders daily.

Keeping Hummingbird Feeders Clean

When choosing a hummingbird feeder, consider what it will take to keep the feeder clean. My favorite feeders have wide openings and come apart and go back together easily. In the past I've chosen cute feeders with small openings that are almost too small to insert or maneuver a brush. I like to scrub my feeders really well so the birds will stay healthy, including scrubbing the inside, and that task is made nearly impossible with some designs.

The red feeder in the pictures here is the feeder that I use and prefer. It holds a good amount of food (32 ounces) and the bottom screws off and comes apart easily for easy cleaning access. It's not expensive and not fancy, but it gets the job done and keeps the birds well fed and happy. I see that this year's version of the feeder comes with a squared-off container that looks like it will be very easy to grip and still easy to clean. Likely I'll be ordering yet another feeder soon.

Keep hummingbird feeders clean by using hot water and a brush when it's time to refill the feeder. |
I'm going to start with just a small amount of food today to see what happens. If we don't see results in a few days, I'll put out more. Perhaps hanging the hummingbird feeder close to the seed feeder that has stayed active all winter might make it harder for the hummers to find, but we'll see. (I've never put both types of feeders out at the same time before, but I read on an online forum that it's perfectly fine to hang the two near each other.)

I'm really looking forward to our ruby-throated winged visitors. I'll be back, hopefully soon, to let you know they've arrived. UPDATE: The hummingbirds are back! Official arrival date at our house, April 8, 2017.

So tell me, is it time to feed the hummingbirds where you live? Do you enjoy watching and feeding birds? I'd love to read your comments, below.


  1. Great pictures! I'd love to get a few pictures (or at least one) of the hummingbirds as my recently placed feeders!

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Candy! I use a tiny camera and do a lot of cropping. I'm hoping that this year I'll be able to get some much better shots. Of course most of the fun is in just watching these amazing birds. I'm looking forward to seeing your pics, too.

  2. I've never had a hummingbird feeder, though I've thought about it. I use to see hummingbirds in Templeton, but so far I haven't seen any here in Paso Robles. I plant shrubs and flowers that should attract them, but I evidently don't have enough of them.

    1. Barbara, perhaps a hummingbird feeder would help get the population to visit and then they'll find your flowers. I don't think I ever saw a hummingbird in our yard until after I started putting out feeders, but I probably didn't have enough of the flowers that attract them in the first place. As much as I know you love nature, you'll be hooked on hummingbirds once they start visiting your yard!

  3. Enjoyed the photos and thanks for the good information! We just started feeding the hummingbirds last year and so far this year we have more purple finches in our hummingbird feeders than hummingbirds. We have a bee hive and they haven't discovered the feeders yet but they like them, too. We had about a dozen hummingbirds here last year and are hoping for more this year. We live in Colorado at 7600' so it takes them a while to get here.

    1. Hi Galen! Glad you've discovered the joy of feeding hummingbirds. Interesting about the purple finches. We have plenty of those during the winter and I probably did see one or two on the hummingbird feeders when I first put them out, but mostly right now we're happy to have several active hummingbirds. Also very interesting about your bees. I wish you the best of success with those and hope their population multiplies profusely. I guess your hummingbirds do have quite a climb to get to that altitude! Hope you have a very successful year with them as well. Thanks so much for your comment!