Our hummingbirds are on their way back! They give us such joy, don't they? So the one thing we shouldn't give them in return is a fungus that can kill them and may be passed on to their babies. By allowing nectar to ferment, and mold to build up in feeders, that's exactly what we're doing.
Here are some pointers to ensure you have healthy, happy hummers this year:
• Make your own nectar (never buy it) using 4 parts clean, boiled water to 1 part white, cane sugar. That's 4:1
• Never make the nectar stronger trying to attract more hummers
• NEVER, EVER use red dye. This is a rookie mistake, and for some reason, people and companies still do it. There is nothing good about adding manmade products to nectar. Have you ever seen Red Dye #40 occur in nature?
• Never use artificial sweeteners or honey, they can be toxic
• Cool nectar to room temp before filling your feeder
• Buy easy to clean feeders
• Place feeders in the shade, whenever possible, to make the nectar last longer
• Hang feeders where outdoor cats can't reach them
• Wash your feeders with hot water and/or vinegar (never soap) and change the nectar every three or so days. Cloudy nectar is fermented. If you see black mold anywhere on the feeder, soak it for 1/2 hour in vinegar and rinse WELL
• Don't fill feeders to the top unless you have very popular feeders. Only put enough for three or so days in the feeder, since you'll be changing it and washing the feeder
• Store extra nectar in the fridge for two weeks
• Always offer trees and shrubs for natural sources of nectar
It's a commitment that not everyone should make. If you are not able to change the nectar and wash the feeders regularly, or if you think it's okay to leave feeders up when you travel, this may not be the right hobby for you. Instead, please plant nectar sources in your yard or garden and refrain from feeding hummingbirds. They depend on us to keep them safe, so not feeding them at all is a much better option than causing them harm.