My husband and I are disagreeing on whether the sugar water is better than flower nectar. my husband feels it is like giving a kid candy- they won't feed at the flowers. is one better than the other?
I'm sure that if you search the interwebs, you will find scholarly writing on the subject, but here are some things I've noticed:
Doesn't stop them from breeding.
Doesn't stop feeder activity from waxing and waning all season long.
Doesn't stop them from feeding on the lantana I have planted.
Doesn't stop them from migrating.
Hasn't destroyed the population for the many decades people have been attracting hummingbirds.
From all this I have concluded that hummingbirds aren't like kids.
My guys have so many flowers they love, but also have 3 feeders they love. Having both makes them the happiest from what I've seen.
I've read that flower nectar is very near 100% sucrose (table sugar). It's not very energy efficient to hover at a flower for a droplet of nectar, it makes more sense for the hummer to fill up while perched.
Long before man started feeding hummers they were doing fine just getting the nectar from flowers which gives them the energy to chase down their protein in the form of small flying insects mosquitoes , knats etc. Now with the addition of feeder mix of which some have perches which allow them to rest and eat saving energy it cant be bad for them. Here they use both and I have quite a few flowers for them. Although during may and june its mostly feeders even though I have flower blooms , but in july and august its a lot more flower use. Maybe they know something we dont , after all theyve been doing it a lot longer than weve been hanging out feeders for them. But the feeders cant hurt, bad for them, I doubt it.
Where we live, the homes are very close together. We started feeding the Hummers a couple of years ago. We have a feeder on our second balcony and our backyard is a wetland. between the water and our home is a large field filled with flowers. The Hummers feed from the flowers then fly up to our feeder. I make the juice for them and they love it. Neighbors have noticed the Hummer traffic at our house and placed feeders out also. But they use store bought red nectar. So the Hummers feed off the wild flowers, our home made juice, and a neighbors red store bought nectar. These guys have it made!
I have had feeders and flowers out on my apartment balcony for years. After the females hatchlings can fly, they quickly find my feeders. Each year I have more hummers than the previous years. I believe they all come back here each year because of the hummer friendly environment of feeders and flowers.
If my population of hummers is growing each year, I don't think I'm harming them with sugar water in three feeders. This time of year they prefer my flowers to the feeders but use both.
thank you all for the responses- I felt I was right and my hubbie delusional!