problem with glass flower type feeder

hummiegoMay 2, 2007

I recently purchased two beautiful blown glass hummingbird feeders from Lowe's. They're "Garden Treasure" brand feeders. One is an aqua color teardrop and the other is a yellow crackle glass gourd-shape. Both have ports towards the top which are surrounded with red rubber grommets, into which fit removeable red glass flowers. The flowers have long hollow, open ended tubes as stems. The idea is that, when the flowers are inserted into the filled feeder, the nectar should enter the tube and the hummers can then drink it by inserting their beaks & tongues into the flowers. My problem is that the nectar doesn't flow up into the tubular stem. Even if I fill the flowers directly using a funnel, the nectar just drains right down into the main body of the feeder. The hummers are interesting in drinking, but can't get any nectar. I've looked at various websites on the Internet that have glass feeders for sale and this glass flower/port idea seems to be a common style right now, so I'm wondering why it isn't working for me. Does anyone have advice or hints that they can share?

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Just to be sure we're all talking about the same thing, does it look something like this? (Click the link).

Maybe someone else is more familiar with this feeder than I, but I do have some thoughts. Does it fill from the top? Are you filling it completely?

Just from looking at it, I don't see how the sugar water could defy gravity and flow upwards. It would never be higher than the level in the main reservoir, except, possibly with capillary action. Capillary action only works if the tubes are thin enough, and it doesn't seem from the picture that they are. Seems to me the only way they could reach the sugar water would be if you filled the feeder completely. But then, as the level of solution would drop, they might reach a point where they couldn't reach it.

It's hard to believe, but maybe it's a fatal design flaw. I bought a feeder last year that was also of blown glass, but of a different design. It didn't work at all. The company kindly sent me another, and that one didn't work either. I finally had to accept the fact that it was a design that just didn't work. I hope that's not the case with yours, but I'm wondering.

In my case, the feeder failure turned out to be a good thing because I got so disgusted that I began making my own feeders. I'm an artist, and a scientist, and have had so much fun experimenting with the appearance of the feeders and with refining the technical aspects. I've learned a lot about what works and what doesn't.

Anyway, I'm sorry I'm not more helpful, but that design seems weird, and may be flawed. I'm hoping I'm wrong and that someone out there has that feeder and can explain what the problem is.

How long and wide are those glass tubes? I've learned by reading and from my own experience that a hummingbird can only reach the length of its bill plus the length of its tongue, which sticks out about the same length of the bill. I've found with my hand made feeders, that if you start at the base of their bill, the females can't reach any further than about 42 millimeters, and the males (which are smaller) can only reach maybe 36 millimeters. Ideally, though, they don't like to reach more than about 30 millimeters. As you surmised, maybe due to the design of your feeders, the sugar water is out of reach.

Maybe someone else has more encouraging advice, but I really do have my doubts about that design. The only advice I can give is to make sure you fill them up as much as possible. But if the sugar water is not flowing up into the tubes to the same level as what's in the main reservoir, there must be some sort of blockage. If that's the case, maybe it's just your feeder that's defective.

I hope at least some of this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Treasure Hummingbird feeder?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 11:21PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

This type of feeder as far as I am concerned are beautfiful to look at but not designed with hummingbirds in mind. They cannot successfully use these feeders. You are better off buying a simple basic hummer feeder.

These feeders are also a pain in the neck to keep clean.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 5:18AM
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Yes, kristin, your link shows a picture of the type of feeder that I'm discussing.
The only way to fill the feeders is to pour the nectar in thru the grommeted port holes which means, of course, that the reservoir can never be truly filled to the top. The tubes are about 3" long and have an opening of about 2 cm. Even if the design worked, the tubular stems don't reach very far down into the lower part of the feeder so about 50% of the nectar would be unreachable. As it is, the nectar doesn't even go to the tubes to the height of the level in the reservoir. There isn't any blockage in the tubes, and it's happening with both feeders. I guess that the design is unworkable and, although the feeders are gorgeous, I'll need to return them. I am wondering, though, why there seem to be so many of this style feeder for sale right now--do any of them work? I see that Songbird Garden has lots of them for sale on their website, with some of them priced as much as $100 each. I can't find a phone number for the company that marketed mine, but maybe I can call Songbird and find out what they have to say about theirs.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 9:34AM
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What a shame. I didn't want to be right about them, but when I looked at the picture, even though I have no personal experience with these feeders, my heart sank. After what Penny says, I'm sure of it. They don't work.

The scary thing is, they're not the only feeders out there that don't work. Let this be a warning to you and others--the one I bought that didn't work had a glass, pear-shaped reservoir, and at the bottom was a hole. Into the hole fit a black rubber stopper, which in turn had a hole in its middle. A crooked, glass tube (kind of like a hamster water bottle) inserted into the stopper, and was tipped with a red rubber piece at the bottom. The reason it didn't work was that a vacuum formed inside, and the solution would not go past the bend in the glass tubing. I suppose if hummingbirds had a few million years to evolve, they'd have gotten a 3" long, flexible bill, that bent upwards! That's what it would have taken to feed from that feeder. What were the manufacturers thinking? Obviously there was a pathetic lack of testing that went into its development.

I've put a lot of time and effort into my home made feeders, and they work fine, thank heavens. Even so, I am continuing to make refinements and improvements. I want them to be beautiful, but first and foremost, they must work for the hummingbirds. Along the way, by trial and error and testing I have discovered things they like, and things they don't like. All of this because of a stupid feeder that didn't work. It's been fun, and the experiments will continue this summer, ASSUMING THEY EVER COME BACK!! I'm still waiting, very impatiently!

I'm glad we, and especially Penny were able to answer your question. I hope you can get a full refund and find a feeder that works. There are many that do. If you read the forums you will find a number of different feeders that people like. You could even start a new thread asking people what they think are the best feeders out there. Maybe you could get some good feedback.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 1:08PM
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These kind of feeder are pretty to look at and are expensive just for their artwork and glassblown, but to me are a waste of money. Hummers feeders need to be able to be cleaned well and I dont know how you would clean this type. What are we talking about here something that is attractive to you or to the hummingbirds. Perhaps something more simple and ease of cleaning and something that the hummers will and can use, considering their natural attracters are red. Good luck

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 2:05PM
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I think sometimes the attraction to red is overemphasized. Yes, they definitely like red and orange, but I've seen them go to my feeders with violet flowers. They are certainly attracted to some of the blue/purple salvias. Although yellow is thought to attract unwanted bees, I'll bet they'll use yellow flowers readily, if the nectar is there.

I'm going to keep trying different colors this summer with my feeders and watching their reactions. That is, if they ever return!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 5:03PM
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I had two of these and when 1 eventually broke-I had to jerry-rig them and then they dripped all over the deck anyway........i threw them out.....The ones I have always had best luck with are the Droll Yankee units - easiest to fill, clean and they warrantee them - for life......I have had parts wear over time and they keep replacing it - no hassles ....... I have an 8 unit feeder, and two 4 unit feeders.... also 2 window mount(suction cups) units as well....They have always been red......
They other trick I found for the "Spigot" type is to take the flowers off of the little red poppies (the VFW gives for fundraising) and I place the red flower over the base of the spigot....... it's worked like a charm in the past for me................

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 8:58PM
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yardenman(z7 MD)

I have a 5 gallon bucket full of hummer feeders that just don't work for one reason or another. I've gotten to using only The Audubon ones that have the tops of the reservoir come entirely off (#0219), there are simple holes to feed through, and there is a ring perch.

The ones that don't work are the prettiest. Fake flowers at the holes for the nectar, nice fancy bulbs, etc, that doesn't matter. The point is that the hummers find it easiest to feed! That's all that matters.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 3:06AM
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I think it's possible to combine beauty with functionality in a feeder, and that is what I try to do with my home made feeders. The two aspects don't have to be mutually exclusive, it's just that they often seem to be. There are people out there who make beautiful feeders, and put all of their efforts into the beauty, and forget that they need to be supremely functional with respect to ease of cleaning, and ease of use and safety for the hummingbirds. All too often that gets forgotten. However, I wouldn't rule out a beautiful feeder, just don't let its beauty be the sole factor in your decision. I am sure there are beautiful feeders out there that are well-designed and that work, you just have to be careful. There are probably some ugly or plain-looking ones that don't work, too. It's just that they tend to be cheaper, and you don't get as angry when you have to throw them away or demand a refund!

I don't really have any solid proof, but I have a hunch that the hummers like my feeders because they are not only easy for them to use, but also because they look so much like real flowers. I have occasionally read accounts of hummingbirds that can't figure feeders out, or will only use real flowers, and I haven't experienced that problem with mine. I try to make them really look like flowers, which is aesthetically pleasing to me, but also seems to be helpful for the birds. Early on in their development, until I figured it out, I had problems when I got the proportions wrong. If the channel was too narrow, or too long, it was a turnoff, but when I made the proper adjustments, they worked great. I wish other feeder designers would put the time into testing theirs that I have into testing mine. Unfortunately, they often don't.

To me, attractive, artistic feeders that don't work, or are impossible to clean, just end up looking ugly. They're kind of like an initially attractive person, who turns out to have a horrible personality. Beauty and function should work together. That's what I think. Too bad they often don't.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 2:50PM
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dakster(z6 Cent.CT)

Upside down bottle kind is the only way to go..or the saucer kind. My brand of choice is Perky Pet and have been using those for years. :) Oh and I painted the yellow flowers with red nail polish.. first time I am trying it this year..I hear it helps deter bees? We'll see.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 10:14AM
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I use the feeders all the time and have never had a problem with them. Not only are they beautiful, but functional and they don't drip. The hummingbirds' tongues are up to 2 1/2 times the length of their bill, so their tongues have no problems lapping up the nectar. They do not use the glass flowers as straws, but the tube guides their tongues into the vessels. Even if the vessel is less than half way full, they have no problem getting the nectar with their extremely long tongues. Watch the attached video for reference. You'll see that these beautiful feeders actually work. Hope this helps! :)

Here is a link that might be useful: hummingbird drinking from glass flower

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 7:12PM
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