I read that it is 3:1 or 4:1 water/sugar, but does it have to be boiled? Then cooled & refridgerated?
It is generally 4 parts water to one part sugar. For example, a quarter cup sugar to 1 cup water. I do boil mine. That ratio is suppose to most closely resemble nectar found in flowers in terms of sugar percentage. Boiling it is suppose to enable it to last longer before becoming spoiled in a feeder. It also makes it easier to dissolve the sugar. Be sure to let it cool thoroughly before putting it out for the hummers.
I start my babies on 3:1 ratio for the first and last months...to fatten up from and for their journeys. Once the flowers are blooming and in good supply, I take it down to the 4:1 ratio.
I do the same as glo. 3:1 inb early spring and in the fall when they are getting ready to head south. 4:1 once things are actively growing and blooming. Either one is perfectly safe.
Good question. I've been studying hummingbirds for several years, and some of my friends and I have looked at the nectar concentrations of popular "hummingbird-flowers" in people's gardens. The concentrations vary from here to way, way, way over there! But as posted, 3:1 or 4:1 for your feeder are really good bets.
"Boiling to retard spoilage" really makes me nervous. Just because one person may boil their nectar doesn't mean that they can leave it out any longer than someone who doesn't! The "sterility" of a sugar solution is shot just as soon as you put it in an unsterilized jar -- when airborne particles hit it -- when the first hummer sticks it's unsterilized bill into the solution!
Boiling certainly helps dissolve the sugar, but I can't count how many times i've heard people tell me, "I leave my nectar out for ____ weeks because I BOIL IT FIRST." Ouch! No wonder they don't have a lot of hummingbirds!!
The last comment made me wonder something. I have two other hummingbird feeders in plain view hungy by neighbors. Hummer activity is all but none around here lately. I've been replacing every 2-3 days depending on weather (and every day when 90+ which was only once). My neighbors have never cleaned theirs or changed it. She says that is a waste and she's never heard of changing it so often. I haven't talked to the other lady but I've never seen hers changed either. I'm just wondering if the hummers can tell the nectar is bad like I've heard they can and if they know it is bad if that could be keeping them away. Can you tell I'm grasping at straws here? You'd think they would all say, "Hey, I think there is some fresh nectar over there. Let's all go visit her." But....nope.
I do know for a fact that the nectar will and does ferment in heat I have seen hummers leave one feeder and go to another where the nectar hadn't spoiled.
Oh well, I guess they are just not coming to mine. I'll keep filling. I think it is all the honeysuckle and carolina jasmine that is overrunning the sides of the roads. This happens every year. I know they'll be back. Especially when most of my flowers start blooming. Maybe that will keep them at my house instead of the neighbors. I'll share with some people, but not her.
Okay, so how often do I actually need to fill/replace the nectar. I am sure it is more often in the dead of summer, but now...mid-high 60* to low 70* weather and cool at night? Will it be good for more than a few days?
I have seen one hummingbird last weekend before I filled the feeder. Now that I have it filled, I haven't seen any. Oh well, it is still early.
if the carolina jessamine and honeysuckle is blooming they are going to be in the midst of the native plants gleening natural nectar and insects. Usually shortly after they arrive here they seem to disappear for a while as the are nest building and or nesting. they will be back soon. At least you know they are there.
If your feeder are in direct sun eve with temps in the 60's and 70's I wouldn't leave it more than 3-4 days. I change mine on Sunday and then again mid week. I only use about 4 ounces of nectar right now since I don't have any hummerss and I hate to keep throwing it out.
I usually change it every 3 days with temps in the 60's and cloudy 70's, 2 days with temps in the 70's and 80s and every day with temps in the 90's with the feeder that is in the sun and every 3 days with the shaded feeders. If the water gets cloudy or dirty looking it is too late so I like to catch it before hand. I've been only doing 4 oz too and throwing most of it out lately.
I know they'll be back. We do have a patch of carolina jasmine in the back woods and I've been looking. I'm sure there back there quite a bit.
I also use the 3:1 ratio in the spring and fall--I even spike it up a bit with just a little sprinkle of bird vitamins and a teaspoon of rose water--they LOVE it! Then I bring the mix back down to 4:1. I have quite a few hummingbird friendly plants in my yard, so they're getting a good variety of food sources. Now if I could just figure out where they all went! (I still have a few hold outs, but I want more!)
SHOULD I KEEP THE HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER OUT OF THE SUN SO THAT THE TEMPERATURE OF THE WATER WON'T GET TOO HOT????