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Hummingbirds – Why can’t they get along? Print E-mail
Saturday, 10 July 2010 10:54

For a bird that is not much bigger than a large bug, hummingbirds are sure a feisty lot. As most people who attract hummers to their yard with a flower garden or just a nectar feeder have seen, these little guys are pretty territorial. The male bird that finds your food source first and claims it for himself will not tolerate intruders. Any other male hummingbird that ventures too close will quickly learn that he is not wanted there.

If you have a hummingbird feeder you have probably been entertained by this ongoing struggle by the dominant male to keep the nectar for himself. It seems as if the time, energy and calories burned chasing intruders away from the feeder cannot be worth the effort, since there is enough nectar to feed 100 hummers. But that’s the way they are.

A good way to avoid conflict is to place multiple feeders on different sides of the house so the birds can’t see each other. That way they can spend more time eating and less time squabbling.

Hummingbird feeders come in an endless variety of style and price, from works of art to basic utilitarian. They all do the same thing, and a basic feeder works as well as an expensive one. Look for one with a wide mouth and a wide shallow feeding tray that opens for easy cleaning. Cleaning is important because in the heat of summer mold will form in the feeder, and that is bad for the birds. Feeders should be taken down and cleaned every few days to keep mold from forming. Don’t fill the feeder all the way; a cup of syrup in each feeder is plenty or you will throw most of it away.

Simple Syrup, or sugar water, is easy to make.
4 parts water
1 part sugar
Heat the water above 160 degrees F
Add the sugar and stir
When you have a clear liquid it is ready
Let it cool before filling the feeders.

Attracting hummingbirds to your feeder

The best way to attract hummers to the yard is to have a garden full of colorful flowers, but it may be a little late in the season to start a flower garden if you don’t already have one. However, since color is the thing that attracts the little birds, there are other ways to get their attention. Hummingbirds are attracted by bright colors – red, orange, yellow – with red seeming to be the favorite. Hanging colored ribbons or other colored items near the feeder will get their attention, and when they come by to investigate they will find it. Once they know about it they will be back. A neighbor saves the red bows from the Christmas decorations and hangs them outside in the spring when the birds are due back from down south. She always has plenty of hummingbirds around her house.

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 May 2014 09:02