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Planning A Hummingbird Garden (page 3 of 4)

by Bill Thompson III

Location, Location, Location

Place your feeder where you can see and enjoy it. Once the birds find the feeder, they won't be shy about visiting, even if you are nearby. In the hottest months, hang the feeder in a shaded spot to keep the nectar from spoiling rapidly.

Wash the feeder each time you refill it. Scrub feeders occasionally with a brush, after a soaking in a mild bleach-water mixture (1 part bleach to 9 parts water), which kills any bacteria in the feeder.

Now you're ready to enjoy hummingbirds all season. As days get shorter and hummers begin their winter migration, it's important to keep feeders clean and well supplied. Take the feeders down when you don't see any birds for a week or two.

Which Hummers Do You Have?

The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only regular, widespread summer visitor in North America east of the Great Plains. In mountain regions of the West, several species are widespread, including black-chinned, broad-tailed, calliope, and rufous hummingbirds. Along the Pacific Coast, the large Anna's hummingbird may be found, as well as Allen's, black-chinned, broad-tailed, calliope, Costa's, and rufous hummingbirds. All of the West Coast hummers are also found in the desert Southwest along with the blue-throated and broad-billed hummers. The berylline, Lucifer, violet-crowned, and white-eared species are found only within a limited range in southeastern Arizona. South Texas is now home to the northward-expanding buff-bellied hummingbird. While most North American species migrate out of the United States for the winter months, the Gulf Coast states host many wintering hummingbirds of several species.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why aren't there any hummingbirds at my feeders?

Most hummingbirds are not regular feeder visitors because they don't encounter feeders in the wild. A hummer must find a feeder and use it before it will recognize it as a food source. When natural sources of nectar, such as wildflowers, are available, hummers may not visit feeders at all. Place feeders near flowers that hummingbirds visit, and be patient!

One bully male keeps all the other hummers away. What can I do?

To solve this common problem, hang additional feeders near the main feeder. The bully won't be able to keep the other birds from the feeders and may give up. Or hang other feeders on the opposite side of your house, though this may serve to set up other territorial males.

How do I keep ants, bees, and wasps away?

To deter ants, coat the feeder's hanger wire with petroleum jelly. Offer bees and wasps a small dish of nectar placed a few feet away from the feeder. They will gravitate to the easy meal. Once the insects find the nectar dish, move it farther away. If feeders don't already have bee guards, install these plastic screens that cover the feeder holes.

My solution keeps turning cloudy and then black. Is this bad?

Yes. This indicates that mold or fungus may be growing in the solution. It can harm the birds. Remove the feeder immediately, and clean it out with a mild bleach-water solution. Rinse it, and allow it to air-dry before refilling. When temperatures are higher than 80oF, clean feeders every day or two.

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