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Helpful Hot Weather Hummingbird Hints


In our Tucson basin, and other Southeastern Arizona locations, hummingbirds can be fed all year around. A few simple, basic, but very important guidelines should be followed to achieve your goals in attracting and feeding hummers.

Keeping the feeders clean and free of bacteria:

It’s always best to clean your feeders between fillings. The most commonly used method is to wash or soak feeder in a mild solution of hot tap water with a little dish soap. When clean, rinse well. If left too long between cleanings, mold can occur. If this were to happen, soak the feeder first in a solution of 9 parts hot water and 1 part bleach. Then wash and rinse thoroughly. It is important to the health and well being of the hummingbirds that they always feed from a clean feeder.

Keeping the nectar fresh:

A high quality nectar mix will always provide superior results than most commercial nectar mixes or homemade sugar water solutions. Avoid any commercial nectar that contains red food coloring or has any additives or preservatives. The reason our nectar is highly favored by the birds is because it best approximates the nectar they find in natural flowers. In warm weather always use a ratio of five parts water to one part nectar. In our hot climate, evaporation quickly takes its toll and the hummers require the extra moisture beyond the 4 to 1 ratio that can be used in cooler climates. Change the nectar, as a rule of thumb, twice a week. In the hottest months, three times a week may be preferable. Only fill the feeder with the amount the hummers can consume in a short time thereby avoiding waste and insuring the hummer’s good health. Nectar left in the feeder too long will ferment, create harmful bacteria and mold, can ultimately kill the birds you are attracting. Our most important responsibility in feeding hummingbirds is to keep the nectar fresh. Spoiled nectar will become cloudy and should be replaced with fresh nectar immediately.

Proper placement of the feeders:

Hummers are fiercely territorial over their food sources. Locate your feeders so that the feeding hummer cannot see any other feeders from the feeding position. Locate them on all sides of your home rather than several on one side only. Stagger the heights above ground so that all the feeders hang at slightly different heights. Rufous prefer higher feeders. Place them in conspicuous areas so the hummers will easily see them.

Providing fresh water:

Hummers will usually get the amount of water they need daily from the nectar they drink, but they will appreciate your extra efforts in providing an opportunity to bathe. Hummers will leaf bathe in the tiniest amount of water trapped on a leaf. Create a low pressure mister and install it in a tree or bush and the hummers will entertain you with their shower and bathing behavior.

Providing habitat requirements for perching, roosting, and nesting:

Any number of nectar producing plants will help draw hummers into the yard. Native bushes and trees are favored over exotics, although they have been observed using a wide variety of vegetation. They need branches for perching and preening, roosting and nest building. Larger leafed plants and trees are preferred to smaller leaves. If you want hummers to nest on your property you first need a food supply and they will remain, raise a family and thrive.

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