Is there a best place for a feeder? Not having luck....

TallyAugust 3, 2006

I live in Los Angeles, California.

There are a few hummers here, but not many. Mostly they seem to like the blooming sage plants in the front of the house.

I recently bought a bright red hummingbird feeder hoping to attract more birds. I hung it in the back on the apple tree which is kind of alone by itself in the backyard. It doesn't seem to be attracting the birds :(

Should the feeder be located in someplace less isolated? Should it be hung near the sage or other bloomers? Is the fact that it's hanging on a tree relatively isolated from the flower beds making a difference?

Is there a preference for a best environment or location to hang a feeder?

Many thanks in advance for your advice.

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I placed my first feeder in the area that I first saw my hummer. Mine is actually sheltered by a forsynthia, but is surrounded now by hummer plants.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2006 at 4:54PM
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rembetika(austin, TX)

ita feeder doesn't necessarily have to be near h-bird-friendly plants. but perhaps, if you like having it in that tree, you could hang some other red-flowered plants from pots in the tree, to attract their attention better? it sounds like they just haven't found it yet. and this is assuming that your nectar is put in fresh every few days, feeder is kept clean, no ants, or other stuff that would discourage them.
also, do you watch them for long periods of time? they might be visiting & you just haven't seen them. once they've found it they will probably come every 5-10 minutes (depending on how many)... but they are quick, you might just be missing them!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2006 at 5:29PM
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Thanks for your input.

No, I don't put fresh nectar in everyday. The feeder came with a bag of powder, I mixed it with water per instructions and filled the feeder. It's been there about 3 weeks. Could this be a problem?

The nectar level hasn't gone down much, so I don't think I'm getting unseen visitors.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2006 at 8:23PM
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I first saw hummingbirds last year in the trumpet vines by the dining room window at my mother's house. Hoping to attract even more, I hung a feeder in and among the flowers, and they immediately started visiting the feeder and began to almost totally ignore my trumpet vines!

So, based on my experience, my advice would be to move the feeder to where you have seen them feeding. Put it right in and among the flowers, and they will have a better chance of discovering it. Then, if you want to move it somewhere else, you can gradually move it a few feet per day to your ideal location. As for an ideal location, I have heard some say it's a good idea to put it in an area that gets at least some shade. This helps keep the feeder from heating up and reduces spoilage of the nectar mix.

You definitely need to change the nectar every few days in cooler weather, and every day if it gets very hot. Hummingbirds will definitely be turned off by sour, cloudy nectar mix, and could develop an aversion to your feeder.

If you leave the feeder in your apple tree, I imagine they will eventually find it. I would be concerned, though, that if there's lots of good stuff to drink from in another part of your yard, they may get locked into the habit of visiting the good places, and not be in any hurry to inspect your tree. Some of my birds do seem to get into habits, and if your feeder isn't on their flight path, they may not notice it. Some of mine will feed from one feeder, but not another. Silly birds!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2006 at 10:02PM
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rembetika(austin, TX)

3 weeks????!! holy moley!!! yeah, yours is way WAY overdue to be changed. you MUST change it every few days or so.. because it ferments & goes bad! you might even see some black mold growing in there when you open it. they will avoid nectar that's gone bad, but if they were to drink it, it would make them sick or possibly kill them. you gotta change that right away!!

i know it kind of seems like a pain, but you get used to it pretty quick (taking it down & changing it). here's an easy way to do it:

buy a big bag of white table sugar, keep it in a big glass jar (to keep ants out, etc.)
get a plastic glad-ware type container.
mix 1 c. sugar with 4 c. filtered water (or however much you want, as long as the ration is 1:4).
close the container & shake well, for a couple minutes, til all is dissolved. put some in your feeder and keep the rest in your fridge-- it keeps for about a week or 2, but the trick is to make enough that you will use it up by then. (when it's empty, put the container in the dishwasher & start a new one.)

then every 3 days or so, take down your feeder, and rinse it out with hot water. if you do this every few days & there's no mold (or fermenting smell)- you can just rinse, refill & put back out there.
then every other week or so, take the feeder apart & run it through the diswasher, or wash it well with soap & a few drops of bleach- & rinse VERY thoroughly.

note: you might be able to keep it up more than 3 days-- i have had mine up for a week and it has not gotten cloudy OR fermented. but that is pushing it, and 3 days is just a good rule of thumb!

also the hotter the weather, the more likely it will go bad.

this might seem like a lot of trouble, but i swear it isn't!! you get used to doing it, and it takes very little time at all. you might want to keep your feeder closer to your house (do you have a porch?) so you can watch them, and it will be easier to change. you might also want to get a second feeder so you can rotate them.

hope that helps, good luck!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 12:57AM
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Good grief. Why don't they tell you these things when you buy them! You'd think they'd want you to buy more nectar and would tell you about changing it every day.

Thanks for all your help. I really appreciate the suggestions and I will definitely start changing the nectar every few days.

Also, I think maybe it's a good idea to relocate it to the front of the house and put it near the Sage. I know they find the sage when it's blooming, so hanging it under the olive tree in the front might be a better idea.

Thanks again for all you help.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 10:39AM
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Another thing to consider is the environment that surrounds the feeder - Hummingbirds can be very skittish and may feel more comfortable if there are places to escape to - shrubs, trees, etc...the ones I see seem to prefer thin dead branches about halfway up on mature trees. Maybe you can set the feeder up away from the tree, so they can perch in the tree and see it? Or maybe put one in front where they are are, so they associate it with nectar and learn to look for it...(or both!)
Water helps too - I spray my hose way up high to "wet" the leaves of the trees amd entice them to bathe. I do this at the end of the day when I am home and when they are active.

Since they are territorial and will defend "their" feeders, I put 3-4 of them out in different areas of the yard.
Speaking of feeders,
I have all different types of feeders and have found that the Hummzinger Mini is the favorite (for me and the birds!)
1) The openings deter bees, as they can't get any nectar. t
2) Has a built in ant moat
3) Has perches - the hummers will perch and stay longer
4) Is small enough so that I am not throwing away a lot more liquid nectar that I have to.
5) Is very easy to clean and does not leak. Does not have separate "flower parts"

I have the hummzinger next to a traditional top feeder(with no perches) and they always go to the Hummzinger.
The only downside is that the only place around here that sells them around here is sold out and I hate to pay 6-7 dollars in shipping for an internet order...

Hope this helps. Enjoy the hummies - Mine will be leaving in a month or so....

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 12:28PM
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rembetika(austin, TX)

LOL. well... most feeders as far as i know tell you that in the instructions- but yours may not have..? and really, don't go thru the trouble of buying nectar powder.. it's SO much cheaper to just use table sugar, it's the exact same thing... they just put it in a fancy package & call it "hummingbird food". besides, with changing it every day you'll go thru a lot!
when i first heard about having to change the necatr every few days, i though 'wow what a pain that's gonna be'.. (and one of the down sides is is you go away, you have to take it down if you can't find someone to change it for you... but if you have the plants, they can fill in for you til you come back). but i quickly found out it's not a big deal,, mixing the nectar once a week or so, & dealing with the feeder takes about as much time as making a cup of coffee every few days. and you'll get so much enjoyment from watching your little bee-birds that you won't even notice the effort.

i second the hummzinger!! maggie is right, the simple saucer shape is very easy to pop apart & stick in the dishwasher (or wash)! and the moat is great. it helps deter ants- but may not totally prevent them. i've had ants get in, because if an army of ants discovers it, they can fill it up and will end up walking over each other to get in the feeder. when that happens i just let it trap them all & then dump it- then the problem is gone (seems to be a seasonal thing- they come out in early summer). also perky pet has an ant guard attachment that may work.

my hummers here equally love the light bulb-shaped perky pet feeder. and it's the simplest design ever! i can't seem to find it online though... although the hexagon shaped one is probably close. i remember it was really cheap too, about $10.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 2:15PM
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This has been so helpful!!

One other thing I forgot to mention. It probably doesn't have anything to do with this, but I was wondering if Fritillary butterflies might have anything to do with keeping them away? Someone mentioned hummers are skittish?

I have a passion flower vine and right now there are butterflies everywhere. Could these bright orange butterflies be spooking them?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2006 at 10:35AM
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rembetika(austin, TX)

i don't think so. i have tons of frits in my yard fritting all over the place, and sometimes the hummers will chase them off if the b-fly is on a flower that the h-birds wants to get to... LOL! but in general, they just kind of fly around each other. i am positive the reason for them staying away is that the nectar's fermented. as soon as you put fresh stuff up there & they discover it, i'm sure you will be seeing tons! it might take a while though, because they might already have given up on it. but in time they will probably come back to check again.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2006 at 10:18PM
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vikki083(Z7 WA State)

I can never get the hummers to drink the commercial food. They just refuse to drink it. So I always use the sugar water mix.
Hang your feeder where they are feeding. Once they begin to use it you can slowly start moving it further away.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 2:55AM
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I wanted to thank you all again for your advice. You've been incredibly helpful.

I'm sending my hubby off this afternoon to buy some white sugar. I've emptied and cleaned out the feeder (the nectar seemed fine - not cloudy or sour smelling, but I dumped it all out anyway).

I'll be mixing up the sugar nectar and hanging the feeder in the front near the blooming sage, and we'll see what happens.

Thanks again for all your input!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 10:50AM
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Place it somewhere near some flowers they like or maybe in partial shade eye level or higher. If you dont change the nectar at least every 3 or 4 days they will find food elsewhere. I used to be an idiot when it comes to hummers thinking just fill it and if they dont empty it forget about , not if you want see hummers thou. I had a window feeder earlier this summer ,strawberry shaped, well a storm came thru and it broke. I had to replace that feeder and I was nervous the hummers wouldnt accept that feeder, but it didnt take long. Its the perky pet half-round style and they liked it right away, but they would empty it in less than 2 days so I now have 2 feeders on my window and many hummers. Its awesome.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 4:09PM
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rsingley(z6a NJ)

My East coast hummers may be different than your West coast, but when I used a feeder, I didn't see ONE hummer. I changed the nectar(water) every other day, but nothing. Last year I planted cardinal flowers, just a few, and I watch my new hummer friend every morning(about 6-6:30) and every evening(7-9:00). Since I added the cardinal flowers and bee-balm she also seems interested in the impatiens and the rose of sharon flowers. Read bad things about feeders and they're too much work, I'll stick with a few well placed plants. I added 15 more cardinal flowers and have plans for scarlett cypress vine in my window boxes next summer.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2006 at 6:13PM
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