A friend and I just had a conversation about hummingbird nectar. She said she makes her own. I said I buy mine. She said she has very few birds at her feeder. I said I have plenty. So what’s the deal?
After reading much about hummingbird food, I think it’s not the food or the color, but rather the population of the birds in an area. I must have a large “charm” of hummingbirds in my neighborhood, or perhaps even my yard, because like last year they are everywhere. I don’t know if they over-wintered here or they are migrating, but I see them feed and often return to one specific tree (a pear tree near the window feeder). I’ve looked for a nest but can’t see one, which is not surprising considering how small they are.
I’ve also learned that hummingbirds live on average of three to five years, and researchers have tagged and identified one female at 12 years old. Who knew?
But back to the nectar. I’ve changed my mind and will make my own nectar without food coloring. Since learning that hummingbirds can live a relatively long lifespan, I think those chemicals and preservatives might harm the birds over the long haul.
What I need to do is cook up a batch, which is simply four parts water to one part white cane sugar. NOTE: if the concentration is too strong the birds will feed less often, but if it is too light, they may move on to a more suitable nectar. So maybe it should be five parts water and one part sugar, an amount that might bring them back more often, but keep them happy with the amount of sugar in solution. I’ll make just enough to fill the feeder once so there is no leftover to store, and really clean my feeder more often. This is where I wish I had a working dishwasher as these feeders are a pain to clean. But I’ve read how the bacteria brought to the feeder by bats, bees, and other critters can harm the birds, and I’m more motivated than ever to keep my tiny birds healthy, happy, and humming away. They are such a joy to watch.