Hummingbirds’ specialty is eating nectar; their trademark is their extended bill which is ideal for pursuing tubular flowers. Though their bills can vary in shape and size, each of them protects a long, sensitive forked tongue, which the hummingbird uses to lick, not suck, its nectar, whether it is from a flower or feeder, from three to thirteen times per second. The fork of the tongue creates a trough that pulls up the nectar by capillary action. Ninety percent of a hummingbird’s diet is dependent on rich sugary nectar and the remainder is made up of pollen and insects that furnish needed protein. Keeping and maintaining a backyard feeder for hummingbirds helps provide them with nectar that is critical to their survival, particularly in the fall when they must double their body mass before they migrate. A common fear is that the extra food we supply to them will prevent them from migrating south, this is not true, when it is time for them to fly south, they will.
Hummingbird feeders come in many shapes and sizes such as pie or saucer shaped, tubes, blossom feeders, and many other designs. Some are designed with perches so these tiny birds can sit and feed. Hummers use an enormous volume of the energy while hovering and would have a preference to settle where they have feed available. A good place to hang your feeders is in the shade; this will help prevent spoilage and fermentation of the sugary hummingbird food. Be sure you change the nectar regularly, before it has a chance to get cloudy, or roughly twice a week in warmer weather. If you have problems with ants or bees getting into the sugar solution, try smearing the petroleum jelly around the ports of hummingbird feeder so as to discourage them.
You can make your own hummingbird nectar by using 4 parts water and 1 part of sugar. You have to boil water for a minute or two at low temperature and keep stirring. Now cool the solution before pouring into the feeder or storing in the refrigerator. You should avoid using use honey as it gets spoiled very easily and cause harmful bacteria; you also do not want to use red food coloring because this could be harmful to the hummers. If you do not want to mix your own food, you can purchase instant hummingbird nectar for your hummingbird feeders. You may click here to learn more about hummingbird feeders.