Nectar question

paulsm(z5)April 24, 2008

We had two visits for the first time late last year on our deck. We are going to try the feeder path this year. I guess we will go with the hummzinger ultra as we have enough bee and wasp problems already for such a small deck in the city. Even have a large bumble bee who waa a consistent pest last year. He was there today just checking things out I guess.

Our deck has very little shade on it. If I keep the feeder up during say the hotest part of the day in full sun won't the nectar get too hot for the hummers. I was going to hang it from a small hisbiscus tree we have.

It looks like most everyone is making their own nectar which it looks like is just a simple syrup. Does the nectar get any more complicated than that.


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It's as simple as it seems: 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Some people boil - some don't. I don't. I nuke the water just a minute or so to make the sugar dissolve faster. And yes, the nectar could get too hot for the birds - and will spoil faster, too. Give it any shade you can.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 12:50AM
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Ditto, I dont boil either. I might add here that you should not add red coloring to the nectar , it is not needed since most feeders already have red on them which tends to attract them and tests have shown the red coloring is potentially harmfull to them. Mention the use of red dye to hummer enthusiasts and you could get a landslide of negative reaction. Mention it at network54/hummers and see what happens.

Here is a link that might be useful: red dye

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 1:31PM
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I have a feeder in nearly full sun, and had to change the nectar so often (every day in the dog days!) that I bought one of those overpriced sun/rain guards. It does help with giving the hummers some shade for encouraging longer perching and keeping the nectar cooler and fresher longer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rain Guard

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 9:47PM
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I do have a question about boiling...I have read that you should boil to kill the bacteria, but then it sits to cool, and I have to wonder if that doesn't let bacteria get to it. Has anyone ever had sick hummers from NOT boiling? I'd sure prefer to do it that way if it's OK for my birds!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 9:00AM
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I always boil the water if I am using our well water, it is tested safe to drink but I just want to make sure that there isn't a spike in bacteria. I have wondered this, if I use well water that is high in iron and has that well water taste if that is undesirable for the birds. Last year I used both water from the well and bottled water and I couldn't tell if they have any preference. I have been using bottled water so far this year because I don't want to turn off any birds.

Is the store bought nectar anything different than just sugar water and red dye? I don't use red dye, I actually tie red surveyors tape to the feeder.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 11:09AM
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Whether you boil or not, the nectar is quickly contaminated with bacteria from the hummer's beak and tongue, and fungal spores from the air.

I also have well water with a high iron content, and I read some time ago that excess iron was bad for hummers. So buy distilled water (about $.70/gal at WM) and mix it 50/50 with my filtered well water. It may be unnecessary, but I worry less about them. To assuage my guilt for using distilled water, I recycle the jugs and watch TV with the lights off. (It's fun!!, sorta' like going to the movies, which I can no longer afford because of the sugar & distilled water.)

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 10:26AM
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I am relatively inenexperienced at the ins and outs of attracting hummingbirds but I am learning and want to tap the mind of the more experienced.
How often do you check your feeders to find out if your nectar is fermented. Is there a secret to knowing without taking the feeders down. Also will they be more attracted to the flowers in my new hummingbird garden than to the feeders.
thank you

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 8:53PM
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That's a good point about the birds themselves bringing bacteria into the mix...never looked at it that way. We're on a well, too, but I'm not sure about iron content. All I know is is tastes good to me, so I hope it does to my birds, too! My hubby and I were discussing how much sugar the little guys go through. Certainly more than we do. But I'd buy sugar for my birds over food for us if it came down to it! Mac & cheese and TV in the dark - works for me!!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 9:28AM
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I, too, am brand new with hummers. I put my first feeder out about 4 days ago (and it's not been more than low-60s since). How long before it usually goes bad? Do you all change it everyday? I haven't seen a hummer at this feeder yet, but I'm being hopeful...

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 9:42AM
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Most of my feeders are on the north side of my house, shaded by a large Red Cedar in the morning, and get direct sun only in the late afternoon. With temps like they are now - highs 70/80, lows 50/60 - I leave my nectar out 3-4 days. In the heat of Summer, they're changed every 2 days. Now that's in the shade, if they're in the sun, cut those times in half. Put just a few ounces in your feeder at first, there's no need to fill it. jet, in my experience, the hummers prefer the feeders. I guess they're just lazy and want to perch while dining.

ltlhbgrl, I've been feeding hummers for about 15 years, and I noticed after several years, they were using more sugar each year (actually, the DW pointed it out to me). So I started keeping the hummer sugar separate from the household sugar to get an accurate check. I wish I had records, but I don't. But in 2006, the little hogs used 72 lbs, in 2007, they used 133 lbs.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 11:17AM
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I have well water, and have never boiled it. It was tested 3 years ago and all levels were good. Doesn't boiling it get rid of the good minerals? I change mine every 2 days in cool weather. Change it every day when it's hot. Always change it after it rains,and looks cloudy.civicminded0400,
what is spike?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 8:01PM
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Civicminded, maybe instead of using bottled water, you could try a Brita filter and put it in your fridge? A Pur filter for your faucet? Or buy the really big containters of water? Or even try collecting rain water to mix with sugar? It might be cheaper, and instead of wasting all of those bottled water containers, it could be better for the environment!!! Christy :)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 9:29PM
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