Nectar getting dark

peter_aSeptember 19, 2010


I'm feeding hummingbirds for about 6 months now, and never had this problem.

I'm making the nectar myself - just use 4 parts of water to 1 part of sugar. But now, after I change the nectar, next day it gets dark, of some yellow color.

I don't know what's causing this. Same sugar, same water. And it's cool now, it was much warmer in the summer when I didn't have this problem.

I even bought a new feeded, I thought perhaps I couldn't clean the old one well enough - didn't help.

I would appreciate your suggestions.

Thank you,


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Hey Peter (I'm a fellow Washingtonian)

how do you clean the feeder? I heard from Cisco Morris to clean the feeders with 1/4 c of bleach. How often are you changing the nectar? It shouldn't be more then 3 or 5 days.

What kind of HB do you have at your house? I've got Anna's and something else just don't know what kind yet.


    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 3:35PM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

Humm.... the very next day? Do you have any flowers in bloom at the moment that are heavy with pollen, like lilies? Perhaps they are going to the feeder with pollen stained beaks? Just a complete guess on my part.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 9:03PM
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Thank you for your responses.

I've never used bleach when cleaning the feeder. But now I have the brand new one, used it first time and had a yellow nectar.

I'm changing it as you suggested - once in about 5 days, more often in the summer when it was hot.

This is my guess too - something is blooming, although I don't see many flowers now.

I think we have two species of Hummingbirds in Washington - Rufous (not in winter) and Anna's (in winter as well). Not sure what we have here - after molting they look alike, I'll see next spring. I wasn't feeding them last spring, so haven't seen many.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 2:51PM
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I think I've found a problem - there were a lot of ants in the feeded. Cleaned it and around the feeder as much as I could - will see if this helps.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 12:12PM
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eigdeh(z6 NJ)

How is your feeder mounted? You can put an ant moat, water barrier type, between the feeder and the method of hanging and it works 100%.

You can either buy one or make one as shown by Steve in this post:

Here is a link that might be useful: Steve's thread

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 1:57PM
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Thank you, I'll do this.

I have it mounted on my balcony, almost exactly like on these pictures.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2010 at 3:19PM
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Years ago I read that it's not good to give hummingbirds plain sugar water, because it does not contain the micronutrients that natural nectar does. They recommended using the commercial foods if you have to use a feeder. I prefer to use plants they like - and there are a million. It's cheaper, I still get hummers in my yard every day, and I can be sure everything they eat (in my yard) is healthy for them.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2010 at 12:07AM
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Im guessing that wherever you read about hummers needing more than sugar water was written by the people producing the commercial products who are just trying to make a buck. The plain sugar water just gives the hummers extra energy to go get their protein in flying insects and flower nectar. Best to stay with whats known to be safe. Who knows what the commercial stuff might be tainted with.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 11:23AM
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I agree with you. I only use water and sugar, no commercial red stuff. I have observed my hummmers with binoculars, and even if they are perched on a limb, they are constantly catching insects. I watch their long tongues dart in and out of their beaks. No wonder they are so fat now! Until the binoculars, I did not realize there are so many insects flying around. My hummers are awesome!


    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 12:31PM
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In my area they are all but gone but I imagine you still have plenty, you may even have some that overwinter. In august it was fun taking my coffee outside at dawn and watching the hummers arrive and how they would dance up and down gathering insects.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 8:30PM
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I have an old pear tree that the woodpeckers hit often, the pears. Those pecked soon fall so I just leave them. Here the tiny fruit flies gather, so I put a feeder there! The Hummers can catch flies and wash them down with nectar!;-))

    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 8:46PM
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Rumor has it that the hummers like cane sugar water better than beet sugar water. Most chain grocery stores have beet sugar brands. Dominoes is cane sugar. Any comments on this assumption? I agree with Steve that commercially dyed nectar is not the best alternative for hummers....a little sad here in southwest VA since it has been 3 days since the last hummer sighting....

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 7:40PM
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caavonldy(8/9 N CA)

We have lots of Anna's here in N CA. We have been getting 5-9 at a time. I am thinking I need to buy another feeder as many of the flowers are going now. We live out in the country and there are no other feeders nearby.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 6:02PM
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