Hummingbird House and Cotton Nesting Dispenser

eigdeh(z6 NJ)January 11, 2010


Watching that PBS special got me thinking of hummingbirds! Last year I was thinking of getting two products and I wonder if anyone uses them with any success?

First is a cage that holds cotton for hummingbirds to use for their nests. I can post a link to the specific product if anyone cares, but it basically is two grids of wire with cotton sandwiched between leaving the cotton exposed and ready for a bird to take for their nest.

The second is what is called a hummingbird home. It is not a house, but rather a small bracket that has a Y that the birds can make their nest on. It states to put under eaves of your house so the birds will be out of the wind and away from predators. Comes with two brackets, a small roof, and some cotton. Again I can post a link to the specific product

Has anyone used these? Did you have any success?



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I have not Ken. I wonder if I could put cotton in a suet holder I bought. Would the openings be too small?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 9:32AM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

Hi mimidi,

I am sure the openings on the suet feeder would be fine. Below is the link to the one I was thinking of getting and they only difference I see between it and a suet holder is that the cotton cage presses tight against the cotton. Holes seem to be about the same in both. I wonder if the cotton would blow out in the suet holder, but cotton is cheap enough I guess.

One thing I was thinking about is if cotton is the best material for nests. The ad in the link below states that cotton is ideal because it is soft and dries fast, but as anyone that goes outdoors in the winter knows it is a horrible insulator when it gets wet. Not sure if this applies for nests though.


Here is a link that might be useful: Link to Cotton Holder.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 10:02AM
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What consistency of cotton do you use? Cotton balls? Cotton strands of some sort?

I would love to put out material for nest making. Do you think that would encourage them to nest close by? I usually don't see hummers until the end of July, 1st of August, and I don't know why. We only get the Ruby Throats. I would like to encourage them to stay on the spring migration, but don't know if that is even possible.

Any suggestions other than the nesting material? Do you think the "house" would work? I have a carport that could be used to set up a house, but I think there are other wild birds that make nests under it (in it, over it...) and I wonder if that would deter them from nesting there. My porch is so small and with traffic in and out the door, don't know that it would be feasible either.

I would appreciate your opinions and suggestions. Thanks!


    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 8:17AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Susan, Ken and Mimidi

cotton lint from the dryer should be used instead of lint from polyester as the polyester hold moisture. The cotton lint will breath and dry if it gets wet. Also dog and cat fur can be used as well as people hair and cotton threads. Put the nesting material inside a suet cage or one of those mesh onion bags and all the birds not just hummer will pick at it. I wouldn't waste the money on that cage at Duncraft. you can pick up a suet cage for a couple of dollars at WalMart, Big Lots or some dollar stores.

As for the Hummer House, Don't waste your money on that either. Hummers won't use it unless there are no natural nesting places anywhere in area and even then The likelihood of it being used is next to ZERO. It is another gimick to make money.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 3:21PM
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Thanks Penny.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 3:36PM
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peggiewho(z9 Ca)

Sorry but I though this was a ridiculous idea of a hummingbird house and cotton supply. I looked around and found that Dan and Diane True have put a lot of research into hummingbird nest building and that the bracket might actually work if you had a spot at the right height and bird neighborhood. Thanks for your post. If you have any luck I would really enjoy the details. It's a fun idea that I am now considering for myself.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2010 at 1:02PM
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I have had a lot of success and fun with cotton, cotton fabric scraps and animal fur.(horse and cat)have used suet feeders with no problem at all. In fact if you do get rain, it seems to drain and dry better in the open suet feeder.
Last year, we tried chopped strands of cotton yarn, could not keep it stocked!
Here in SE TN, hummers will show up as early as late march. But many other posters like the nest material, so we put it out early in march.
What gets really fun is to use bright colored yarns and cotton scrap (cut thin short strips of cotton) We get bluebirds frequently enough that we have four houses. When we clean the houses it is always fun to see they include gifts we left them for nesting!
The bright colors also help to find nests up in the trees, but alas, we have not seen any hummingbird nests... :-(

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 11:28PM
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So are you talking about cotton balls or real cotton?

    Bookmark   March 6, 2010 at 8:03PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Hi Ken! I did buy the Hummer Houses (comes 2 in a box) and I put them up on my porch last spring. No action yet, but you can never say never. Obviously (as per photos), some people have had great success with them. I thought that it was worth trying anyway. The Hummer Houses do come with some nesting cotton which is to be hung near to the Hummer House. I put out regular cheap wire suet cages in the spring and fill them with bits of different sorts of nesting materials for the yard birds. My friend has Huskies, and some of their fur goes in, along with bits of yarn and such. Have a happy happy hummer season!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 8:43AM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

Thanks bandjzmom!

I did not order the Hummer Houses, I am still thinking about it though. I am thinking that since I have a lot of natural places to make nests on my property I wonder if they would even consider making a nest right on the house. If I get more hummers this summer perhaps I'll give it a try next year. Good luck with yours, let us know if they get use this year.

I am definately going to use a suet feeder to put out cotton and other nesting material though. :c)

Shenanigans, I am going to use cotton balls as one of my fillers.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2010 at 8:08PM
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Im going to put out cat Tail heads and cotton from a cotton field in my suet feeder. When should I put this out in SE Missouri?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 5:24AM
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Ken, so cotton balls will work? My suet feeder is going to get a workout this year! First, it will serve as nesting material container; then as rotten fruit feeder for the butterflies; and, yet again, as an actual suet feeder for the birds in winter! Of course, I will clean and disinfect in between uses. Or, maybe I'll just get a couple more because they are not expensive at all.

I have four cats that I can "borrow" fur from, too.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 7:39AM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

Hi Susan,

I have not personally tried suppling nesting material for the hummers yet. I was going to buy a product that had cotton wedged between two wire mesh panels and someone suggested to use a suet feeder. This is what I am going to try. Cotton balls I believe are 100% cotton, similar in looks to what is picked off the plant, but I assume it is machined into that shape for the cotton balls that we buy.

I would think that cotton would not be the best of materials to use, but it seems that is what others use, and what was offered in that product I was going to buy. I know that cotton is absolutely HORRIBLE to use in winter for us humans as it does not wick water away from the body like wool and some synthetics. From experience wearing wool socks is definately much better than cotton!

Of course we are talking about warmer weather here and the birds themselves have insulation, so it probably is a non issue.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 2:35PM
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I just installed my hummingbird homes. I too am interested to see if anyone has had success. I know this is an old thread. I thought maybe someone had luck since it was posted.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 1:49PM
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Nowhere in Nature does a Hummer encounter cotton as a nesting material. They generally use spider webs. Cotton may actually harm the tiny chicks within...
Perhaps cotton is for larger birds but not necessarily for hummers.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 2:43PM
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