Find fun hummingbird facts and tips for attracting Hummingbirds to your garden. You’ll also find a hummingbird nectar recipe to slow down spoilage and the best way to clean your feeders.
Summer is winding down but the hummingbird visits at the
feeders and in the garden are picking up here in North Carolina!
Hummingbird sightings had been fewer in number until recently,
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 these fearless flyers go zipping by,
dashing from flower to feeder.
It seems they spend more time defending their territory and food sources,
than actually feeding. ;)
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Hummingbirds’ wings move in figure-eight patterns,
allowing them to hover in midair and fly backwards.
Their wings beat more than 50 times per second,
requiring them to feed every 10 to 15 minutes.
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 1/2 full, 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 a couple of years ago,
which slows down 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.
A 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 – 3 day cleaning / refilling.
Ant moats will keep your hummingbird feeders ant-free!
I like that this is a chemical-free way to keep your feeders free of ants,
as only water is required in the moat.
You do have to be diligent about refilling them with water due to evaporation.
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.
While a small number or Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will winter in Florida and along the Gulf coast,
most will overwinter in Central America. You have to be a fearless flyer to make a nonstop flight
of more than 500 miles across the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico!
It also means that hummingbirds need to double their body mass with a steady diet
of nectar and insects prior to their migration in the fall.
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.
In terms of area however, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds occupy the largest breeding
range of any of the North American hummingbird species.
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.
As a general rule, leave your feeder up for two weeks after you have seen your last hummingbird.
There might be one or two stragglers migrating in need of a rest stop to refuel.
These fearless flyers reach speeds of up to 37 mph and up to 60 mph in courtship dives.
While resting, the average 4-inch hummingbird takes about 150 breaths per minute.
Banding research shows hummingbirds are likely to return to the area
where they were born and visit the same feeders and flowers every year.
The oldest known Ruby-throated Hummingbird was a female and at least 9 years, 2 months old
when she was recaptured and rereleased in 2014, during banding operations in West Virginia.
We had a surprise visitor at our hummingbird feeder, a Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly.
I think this hummer was as surprised as I was to find a butterfly visitor at the feeder.
I think this hummer was as surprised as I was to find a butterfly visitor at the feeder!
Are you seeing and feeding hummingbirds in your neck of the woods?
Hope you’re enjoying these fearless flyers and the last days of summer. ♥