In our experience, we have never had any trouble attracting hummingbirds. All I do is put out the hummingbird feeders and they will come. We usually have so many that they fight over the feeders. We put out 3 or 4 feeders and sit on the porch and watch the hummingbird wars begin. It is fun sitting on the porch watching them zooming in and out of the porch at a 100 miles an hour making little squeaking noises. We space the feeders about 75 or a 100 feet apart, because the dominant hummingbirds at our house will sit on a tree branch in between two of the feeders and guard them, attacking any other hummingbirds that come near, but while he is attacking one, the others are feeding. It really keeps them busy and is fun to watch. So put out the feeders and let the fun begin. The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only species that nests and breeds in Georgia. They're easily identified by the male's bright, shiny red patch under their beaks. They are visible from March to October. You can observe up to 11 different species of hummingbirds a year as they migrate to or pass through Georgia.
What should you feed hummingbirds?
Hummingbird feeders, both bottle and saucer types, are designed with red parts to attract the hummingbirds. Never add red food color to sugar water, and never use mixes that have red dyes. Nectar in flowers is clear, and red food coloring may be harmful for hummingbirds. Never use honey to make hummingbird food - when honey is diluted with water, bacteria and fungus thrive in it. Sugar is perfect. The normal mixture, especially ideal during hot or dry weather, is ¼ cup of sugar per cup of water. During cold, rainy, or foggy conditions when fresh water is plentiful but birds need more energy, it’s fine to make the mixture 1/3 cup of sugar per cup of water. Concentrations of sugars in natural nectar's vary within about that range. If you mix up small quantities of sugar water every day or two, there’s no need to boil the water. But if you mix up larger batches and refrigerate part for later use, then it’s wise to make the mixture with boiling water.
What kind of feeder is best?
There are things to consider in selecting a hummingbird feeder. How easy they are to take apart and clean, and how large they are. Bacteria and mold grow in sugar water, and sugar ferments, so hummingbird water should not be left out for more than two or three days, and changed daily in very hot weather is a good idea. The easier it is to clean a hummingbird feeder, the better. The fill hole should be large enough for you to be able to get a bottle brush inside, and every part should be easy to clean. Hummingbirds are usually very territorial around feeding sites, as I talked about above and so three or four feeders, set in different trees or at different windows, will attract and maintain more hummingbirds. Bottle or tube hummingbird feeders can be glass or plastic, often with red plastic flowers and bee guards, little plastic screens that keep insects away from the sugar water on the feeding holes. If the bee guards are yellow, they may, attract bees. Plastic saucer-type hummingbird feeders have feeding holes in the top, making them fairly bee-and wasp-proof. These feeders often have little moats in the center that should be filled with regular tap water that will keep ants from climbing down the support wire or rod and getting to the sugar water. If hummingbird feeders have large enough perches, other birds may try to us the feeder. In some places, bears can be a problem if feeders are accessible. Hummingbird bottle feeders tend to leak in the sun, because air trapped in the top of the bottle expands as it warms and pushes the nectar out. This doesn’t happen in tray feeders. Either way, you should avoid locating your hummingbird feeder in direct sun, which causes the sugar water to spoil rapidly. Just put out the feeders and they will come, sit back and enjoy the show.
By Gary Duncan