You can find hummingbirds in the western hemisphere from south Alaska to south Chile—and likely in your backyard, given the right habitat and conditions. You can boost your chances of watching these high-energy birds by providing an attractive environment.
Mix 1 part white cane sugar with 4 parts boiling tap water. Tap water is better than distilled, which lacks minerals that hummers need.
Stir vigorously to dissolve the sugar and to delay fermentation.
Allow solution to cool completely before filling feeders. Note that nectar can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Don’t add red coloring to hummingbird food, as edible dyes can be harmful to hummers. These birds are attracted to the color red, but this can be satisfied by choosing a red feeder.
Inverted bottle feeder
How to choose a hummingbird feeder
Feeders come in two basic styles, and both work for hummers, so the choice is up to you. You’ll attract more hummingbirds if you choose a red feeder, but avoid yellow decorations or embellishments, which can attract bees and wasps.
1. Inverted bottle feeder
A nectar reservoir sits atop a base with one or more feeding stations.
2. Basin feeder
Easier to fill and clean than the inverted-bottle type, this type feeder consists of a shallow basin covered with a lid.
Each time you clean your feeder, discard any remaining nectar and rinse the reservoir with hot tap water. Use a bottle brush for an inverted-bottle feeder and a clean sponge for a basin feeder.
Don’t use soap when cleaning your hummingbird feeder—it can leave a residue that’s foul-tasting to the hummers.
Once a month, soak the hummingbird feeder in a solution of ¼ cup of full-strength white vinegar and 1 gallon of water. Scrub with a brush and rinse thoroughly with clean hot water.
If your feeder has collected black mold, use the vinegar and water solution to eliminate this problem.
Hummingbird migration and feeding times
If you live in the Western Hemisphere between southeastern Alaska and Chile, you’ve probably caught glimpses of hummingbirds flitting around your garden, furtively dipping their long beaks into your columbines, impatiens, and petunias. Some regions of the United States are lucky enough to have hummingbirds in residence year round while other regions serve as fueling stations on hummingbird migration routes.