Find helpful tips for attracting Hummingbirds to your garden along with an easy nectar recipe to slow down spoilage and the best way to clean your feeders. You’ll also find a method to revive a tired feeder and give it a refresh.
August is a peak month in North Carolina for hummingbirds
in the garden and at the feeders!
Hummingbirds have been late to arrive this year, but I decided to
Keep Calm and Hummingbird On
refilling the feeders with fresh nectar in anticipation of their arrival.
I always get a thrill when I see hummers or hear them chirping as they go zipping by,
dashing from flower to feeder, defending “their” territory.
We have three feeders placed around the yard and by the Potting Shed.
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After several years, the UV rays and frequent washing had taken its toll,
fading the feeders from their original vibrant red, making them almost
clear in color and in need of a some TLC.
I decided they needed a makeover to entice the hummers!
I found Krylon Stained Glass Paint in Cranberry Red, a translucent paint for glass,
to restore the finish and still allow me to see the level of the nectar in the feeder.
Note: Krylon Stained Glass Paint states that it’s for indoor use, so after applying it,
I sprayed multiple coats of Krylon Acrylic Spray Paint Crystal Clear to protect the finish.
Follow manufacturer’s directions for use, applying in a well ventilated area or outdoors.
I cleaned my feeder and let it dry before painting, applying 8 light coats of paint
to achieve the color I was looking for.
Tip: To make sure feeder is free of any oil or residue, wipe down the glass surface
with rubbing alcohol prior to painting.
I was very happy with the outcome and highly recommend this paint for glass!
To apply the paint, hold the can 10-12 inches from the surface of
a clean feeder and spray in a light sweeping motion. Wait 1 minute between each coat
before applying the next light coat. It dries to touch in 30 minutes
and to handle in 1 hour. I allowed it to dry overnight before applying
4 generous coats of the clear acrylic sealer.
The sealer seems to have done the trick
as we had several torrential downpours last week and the feeder is still vibrant red.
When I take the feeders down in late fall, I’ll give them another
couple of coats of sealer after cleaning them before putting them away.
The metal flowers had faded from the blazing sun,
so I gave them a ‘refresh’ with red nail polish!
I applied the polish to the petals, avoiding the metal throat port.
To keep the polish off the feeder, I used squares of wax paper to protect the base of the feeder.
Bees and wasps are attracted to the color yellow, so you can use
red nail polish to paint over any yellow parts of the feeder as well.
Apply multiple coats until the yellow is covered.
After the polish was dry, I gave the base and the flowers a couple of coats
of acrylic sealer for protection and to refresh the base of the feeder.
As good as new!
Hummingbird nectar is easy to make with white refined sugar and water,
mixing in a ratio of 1:4, sugar to water.
Note: Do not use red dye, “raw” sugar, honey or sugar substitutes.
Plain white table sugar mixed with water mimics the chemical composition of natural nectar.
Do not use organic, natural, or raw sugars as they contain levels of iron that could be harmful.
Also, do not use honey, which can cause fermentation, promoting bacteria and fungal growth.
Avoid red dye in your sugar water which may be harmful to hummingbirds.
To mix your nectar, combine four parts hot water to one part sugar. Mix it until it’s completely dissolved.
Once it cools to room temperature, it’s ready to go.
Boiled tap water is the preferred water to use.
Using boiled water removes any potentially harmful bacteria, chlorine, fluorides, etc. that hummers don’t need.
I mix up a quart at a time (1 cup of sugar and 4 cups of water).
After the sugar is dissolved and has cooled, I store it in the fridge to have on hand for quick refilling.
Nectar spoils quickly in hot weather so clean your feeder every time you refill!
I only fill my feeders about 1/3 full in the summer, as I empty, clean and refill
every 2 – 3 days with our 90+ August temperatures.
Avoid soap to clean your feeders as hummingbirds can taste the soap/detergent residue.
To clean and kill bacteria and mold in your hummingbird feeder,
use a bleach/water mixture, mixing 1 part bleach to 10 parts water,
filling your feeder and allowing the bleach water to stand 15 minutes.
Rinse well and allow to air dry before refilling.
I discovered Hummingbird Feeder Fresh Nectar Defender last year, which stops spoilage!
It’s an all-natural product that protects the freshness of hummingbird nectar
and is safe for hummers. It uses a micronutrient, copper,
naturally consumed by hummingbirds in their diet of nectar and insects.
One bottle will last an entire season as you only need 1 tablespoon per quart of nectar.
I add it to my batch of nectar after it has cooled. It says it will keep your nectar fresh in hot weather up to 2 weeks.
Note: Even with the addition of Feeder Fresh, I don’t go longer than a week before cleaning and refilling my feeders, but it does allow me to feel the nectar is safe in hot weather and I can skip the every 2 day cleaning / refilling.
I use ant moats to keep the hummingbird feeders ant-free!
I like that you use water only with these moats, with no chemicals to keep the ants away.
You do have to be diligent about refilling the moats with water with evaporation in the sun.
If possible, place your feeder near trees.
Hummingbirds are territorial and like to perch in nearby trees
to chase away intruders at their feeding area.
Hummingbirds are a prolific pollinator of flowers.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds deposit 10 times as much pollen as bumblebees.
Hummingbirds like flowers that produce a lot of nectar, such as bee balm, salvias,
weigela, trumpet honeysuckle and other trumpet vines, cardinal flower, petunias
or anything that is tubular in shape.
There are 320 species of hummingbirds, but only 14 breed in North America, and only one,
the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, can be found east of the Mississippi River. Male Ruby-throats
have a distinctive ruby-red throat, hence the name. Females are greenish,
with a white throat and a notched tail, while juvenile males resemble adult females.
It’s a myth that leaving hummingbird feeders up too late in the fall will prevent the birds from migrating.
Hummingbirds have an internal clock regulated by the changing day length,
which lets them know when it’s time to go.
A flash of harmless lightning,
A mist of rainbow dyes,
The burnished sunbeams brightening,
From flower to flower he flies.
~John Bannister Tabb