Hummingbirds resist apple & strawberry feeders- help please?

Farmgirl06August 28, 2013

I keep 2 Perky Pet Grand Master feeders hanging in the summer, each containing 48 oz of my homemade nectar, and my birds go through both feeders in about 36 hours. Twice I have left on vacation and brought out some extra feeders shaped as a strawberry and apple, plus one other, and calculated that the quantity of food I leave should last the 7 days I'll be gone. When I come home, the large feeders are empty, the remaining feeders are full and untouched, and my birds are slow to return.

I'm sure you've seen the apple and strawberry feeders - they are red, while my Perky Pet feeders are clear. I do not put food coloring in my mixture, so it is also clear.

Does anyone have any idea why my birds would totally ignore full feeders? Does it have to do with the unfamiliarity? The shape? The color? This year, I tried putting out the strawberry feeder first, and they weren't coming around. As soon as I put the huge Perky Pet feeder out, I had birds.

As you can tell, I get many birds, go through sugar like crazy, and consider myself a pretty good steward of "my" birds, but this has me stumped. Any advice will be appreciated.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mehitabel(z6 MO)

I don't pretend to be an expert, but I'd bet familiarity is a large part of it.

Also, could it be that the solution just doesn't stay fresh enough for 7 whole days? So they eat in the old familiar well-loved places, then by the time that's gone the solution in the less familiar feeders isn't any good?

The pamphlet that came with my feeders says the solution will stay fresh for 6 days with temps 75 or below. At 85-88, three days. With temps above 95 right now I've been changing solution daily.

Here in St Louis there wouldn't be any week in summer when the solution would stay fresh for 7 days, even in a coolish summer like the one we just had.

As for being slow to return -- you need a signal for them to tell them that you and the nectar are back-- a red flag? a sprinkler going for several hours? Maybe you could put out a red flag or ribbon for a half-day or so each time you fill the feeders to condition them to the signal. Then after a vacation, when the flag goes back up it might click for them.

They're supposed to have terrific memories, so they could probably learn that fairly quickly. If you do the experiment, I'd be really curious to see how it worked out.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 7:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would suggest having a friend or neighbor come to your house and refill your feeders while you are away. I would go with what works and if they arent visiting them i would buy more perky pets. I have Dr JBs and I love them and so do the hummers. One is teal and red and one is solid red. The one with teal always gets empty first......I guess they prefer it over the other.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2013 at 2:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have two red strawberry feeders. My birds love them.
I think it has to do with familiarity.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 11:42AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Garden Web Refugees??
I was just wondering about the low activity level,...
needle and thread seeds
is anyone familiar with this flower? a friend's mother...
Re-post from vine forum-Coral Honeysuckle
I posted this in the vine forum but thought it might...
What Are The Very Best Hummer Attracting Plants In Your Garden?
What Are The Very Best Hummer Attracting Plants In...
Just checkin' in
I'm trying to like this "Houzz" thingy, but...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™