Recently we noticed a hummingbird that kept coming to our red geranium flowers but didn't stay to feed. That got us wondering what was going on. We did a little research and found out that Hummingbirds need to eat almost constantly just to stay alive. They must eat more than their own weight each day just to survive. In fact, they have to eat more frequently than any other type of bird or animal.
So, we made a really easy feeder to attract that little hummingbird ... or maybe there were more than just that one. It was hard to tell. Since Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, we took a small, red, plastic coffee container we had saved from our recyclable box. You could use any red container that will hold up outdoors, but the coffee container already had a lid, so it was perfect for our feeder.
Simply cut an opening on each side of the container, like a little window. Our opeining is about 2.5 inches wide and 2 inches high. You can either set your feeder on a fence post or balcony or attach string/wire to hang from a tree branch or garden hook. You don't have to make the opening too high up on the container, otherwise you will have to add a greater amount of "homemade nectar" when you refill it.
We had a few fly-bys from a hummingbird within the first half hour. Since the hummingbird didn't stop to feed after the first two flybys, we decided to strengthen the sugar solution. We have found, and also read, that to first attract the hummingbirds you need to mix a solution of 1 part hot water to 1 part sugar. This ratio is similar to the flowers that the birds get the most calories from. In fact, if you keep a strong solution of 1:1, then the hummingbirds won't need to feed as often each hour. They may still need to feed around 5 times in an hour, but if they are getting less caloric intake, either from the sugar nectar or certain flowers, they sometimes have to feed as many times as 14 times in an hour. Wow. How incredible.
Within about 20 minutes of strengthening our sugar solution, we had our first Hummingbird feeding from our feeder. You can see the hummingbird in the photo, which isn't the best but we did capture it in the photo.
When you fill your feeder, fill it to the edge of the opening, so the birds can get the nectar. Change out the solution every 4 or 5 days and clean the feeder before refilling. Once you attract the Hummingbirds, be sure to keep the feeder filled. They will conme to depend on it and they really need the nutrition prior to flying South once it starts to get cool. But be aware that you may have a bird or two that won't fly South until very late in the year. In fact, we've read that occasionally a bird will stay into part of winter. But it does depend what part of the country you live in.
It is simply amazing that these tiny Hummingbirds will fly all the way into Mexico, and other parts of Central America ... even into South America, then fly back up North again in the Spring. They fly straight across the Gulf non-stop. There are over 50 species of Hummingbirds and some even fly as far North as Canada.
After about 6 hours, we have now seen 3 different Hummingbirds. Two of the birds appear to be Ruby Throated Hummingbirds and the other is very tiny and we think it is a Calliope, which are usually seen in the western part of the country but sometimes they fly East prior to migrating. We have seen Hummingbirds over the years that visit the geraniums but our geraniums are sparse this year. We are located in central Pennsylvania.
For more Hummingbird Facts