jel48(Z4 Michigan)April 22, 2007

Time to put out the hummingbird feeders and anything else you might use as 'hummingbird bait' - the first of the spring migration hit Minnesota last week. I went shopping at the local nurseries for my own hummingbird bait, as I do every year about this time. For me, it's generally one or two hanging planters full of (mostly) petunias, as the hummingbirds seem to like them pretty well. I find that the plain old dark purple ones seem to work the best. I'm always hoping to coax more of these little garden jewels to picking my yard as a summer home. So far, I've only managed to retain a couple a year, but I'm still dreaming of swarms of hummers in my yard throughout the summer.... and one of these years that's just gonna happen!

Do you put out hummingbird bait in the spring? And, if so, what is your favorite?

Here is a link that might be useful: Spring 2007 Hummingbird Migration Map

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I've had my feeders up for a few days now-I have a bright red dianthus pot hanging by my feeder-I'm not sure it's really on their menu, but it sure is bright. Anyway, so far no hummers . . .(I'm near Minneapolis)

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 4:26PM
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This is the first year I'm going to put out hummingbird feeders...last year for the first time I noticed them hanging around a hanging basket of petunias--it was such a THRILL!!! They really are like jewels in flight, I held my breath the first time I saw them.

I got a couple of humingbird feeders at the end of the year at walmart, from what I've read, the pre-made, red stuff is bad and it's better to make your own, is that correct?

I'm even adding quite a few plants just for their benefit and if they don't take advantage of it I know the bumble bees will.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 7:50PM
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I see they are in this area....better get the feeders up in the morning.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 8:21PM
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selkie_b(z4 MN)

OH THANK YOU! I have a really nice new feeder and TOTALLY forgot I'd tucked it away... On that today!

I have the "nectar" recipe - does anyone need me to post it? We had a couple little guys a bit later in the season last summer (first time and I've been trying for years!) when the penstamon and cardinal flowers were blooming.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 9:13AM
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Selkie B - yes, please, if you don't mind, I'd love to have that recipe. I had a copy of it last fall, but for the life of me can't remember where I put it.

I'm going to pick up some petunias for my hanging basket and maybe set some out in planters until things start blooming in my garden. All my nanking cherry and apricot trees are in bloom not and are just covered with bumble bees and butterflys-but I guess they are the wrong kind of flowers for Humingbirds.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 10:50PM
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selkie_b(z4 MN)

It's a 1:4 ratio - so 1/4 cup sugar in 1 cup water for a small feeder works great. Boil that to retard spoilage. Let it cool and put it into your feeder. It needs to be changed once a week, a bit more often if they are using it a lot or it's really hot - so it doesn't ferment. DO NOT put in food coloring to make it red and DO NOT use artificial sweeteners or honey as these will all cause the wee birds to become ill one way or another.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 8:43AM
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THANKS for the recipe! I believe the main problem with the 'commercial' ready-to use hummingbird nectors was the issue with the added dye-there's some thought that that may cause weak bird shells or something.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 12:35PM
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birdwing(z4 MN)

I've noticed they really like my Nasturtiums and the tall Nicotianas like
cranberry island..I was surprised the first time I saw one in the city too..I'm
in St. Paul about a half mile from downtown and I get more and more every
year it seems(as my garden gets more established) not quite swarms yet but
we'll see!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 7:23PM
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Wow, looks like they will arrive early this year! The past several years I have recorded my first sighting and it has been around May 10. I put one feeder up last weekend "just in case". Will get the others out very soon.
We usually have 3-4 pairs buzzing around our yard, they love my daylilies, phlox, and zinnias.

Birdwing I might try nicotiana this year, do you have a favorite?


    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 9:48PM
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Just a little more advice regarding feeding the hummingbirds - use pure cane sugar, not beet sugar or raw sugar. Keep your feeders immaculate - black mold can kill the birds. I usually just rinse my feeders out with very hot water, but I occasionaly bleach soak them.
Have fun feeding your hummers!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 5:25PM
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birdwing(z4 MN)


I have been growing the nicotianas for about 4 years now..I started w/sylvestris but that one seems to get alot of aphids. I've tried pretty much all
of them but I like Cranberry Island, Daylight Sensation and Mutabilis. I think
they will have most of these at the friends sale... I really love them and they smell amazing!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 12:29PM
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I love Hummingbirds too. I have a cute story I would like to tell. We have have a cabin up north between Park Rapids and Walker on Lake Belle Taine, anyway about 20 years ago my husband would always be out watering the yard with the hose and he became friends with a male hummer he named Harley after the motorcycles, since he is an old motorcycle lover. This harley Hummer would always come and take a shower in the hose spray day after day and this went on for about 5 or 6 years atleast. In the spring when we first opened the cabin up my husband would go out to the garage workbench and be puttering there. Every year he would hear a humming behind him and turn around and there would be Harley almost up to his head, he would give a bunch of squeaks to say hello, I'm back and then zoom away. This went on for 5 or 6 years and then he never came back we knew Harley had probably died. Well just a few summers ago I was out in the gartage at the workbench, I heard the humming noise behind me, turned around and here was a hummer right behind me, he squeaked hello, turned and flew away. Now he is doing the same thing, showering in the hose, greeting us in the garage, feeding from the feeders. We know the original Harley is long gone, could this be Harleys great, great, great grandson or what? We can't figure out how 15 years later this Hummer is acting the same way as the previous one.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 9:51PM
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For those of you who are into hummingbirds, I'm including a link to a newsletter some friends from Madison put together. They are about as hummingbird crazy as you can get, I think they have around 40 feeders and do all their plantings to maximize the draw to their yard. They also do a fall festival at their home that's pretty neat. Last year, I saw soming hummers in our yard out of the blue, didn't even have the feeders up. It is a fun surprise.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hummingbird Newsletter

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 11:56AM
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Okay, I'm embarrassed to post this, but I gotta learn somehow.

A friend of mine is really entranced with the idea of attracting hummingbirds so last year he bought a feeder and food, filled it and asked if he could hang it in our backyard. I said yes, if he'd do everything needed to upkeep it. He agreed. So the filled feeder hung there all summer. In the fall it began to leak and eventually I took it down, washed it out and stored it for the winter. I think he changed the "food" once during that summer.

Spring has now arrived, and he came by and got the feeder out of storage a few weeks ago, filled it and hung it up. Is it supposed to be changed every week? I have yet to see a single hummingbird eat out of it, though I've seen plenty of wasps around it last year and some dead ants were in it (not sure how they got there). I've seen a hummingbird in my neighbor's yard, checking out his trumpeter vines, so I know they're around.

I'd rather not have the feeder hanging there, feeding nothing and perhaps spoiling or fermenting, for another summer. If changing it every week attracted hummingbirds to it, then I'd do that. Last year I didn't realize maybe that was the problem. But now that I read in this thread that the food should be changed every week...

So what do you suggest?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2007 at 4:32PM
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Gamebird, yes, you do need to keep the feeder clean and the nectar fresh. I run my feeder thru the dishwasher every couple of weeks. In between I just clean it in hot soapy water and rinse well.

Make your own nectar as stated above, one part sugar to 4 parts water, bring to boil and cool. Do not add any colorings. I make a batch and keep extra in the fridge.

Also, do you have any flowering plants in your yard/garden? That will attract them also. My hummrs especially like bee balm, phlox and lilies. I am thinking of planting a honeysuckle too, they love those.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 9:18AM
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Response to irrigationcontractor above: to my knowledge there is absolutely no difference between pure cane sugar and beet sugar. Chemicially, they are exactly the same thing. GaryStPaul

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 8:59PM
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The Hummers do love the Honeysuckle Vine too. I have about 5 of them growing around my chain link fence where my dogs are and the Hummers are there all the time. They also love the Trumpet Vine that's around the fence too.( It takes about 5 to 7 years from first planting the Trumpet Vine to actually get flowers, but once they start there are more and more flowers every year. I've managed to just about hide my whole fence since I don't like the looks of chain link. As Linda said they do love the Bee Balm, Phlox and Lilies too, and also when I have hanging baskets of red Begonias and Petunias they seem to really like anything red. What other plants/flowers/ bushes has everyone noticed the Hummers seem to like the best. The only thing I have noticed with the Trumpet and Honeysuckle Vines is the Hummers start to ignore the feeders I put out since they seem to like the flower nectar the most, but they still come to the feeders , but not as often as when I first put them out in the spring, before everything blooms. Michele >^,,^

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 5:23PM
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Well It's May 15th of 2008 and I haven't seen my hummmingbirds yet this year!!. It has been a long cold spring so maybe they are on their way, at least that's what I'm hoping. I've had my feeder up for 2 weeks and have changed it a few times already. I'm ready for them!! I hope to see them soon. I live just south of Minneapolis, has anyone seen them in this area yet?
Thanks Vanessa

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 3:02PM
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I live about an hour north of St. Paul and haven't seen a hummingbird yet. I wait to put out my feeders when I spot one. My orioles just arrived so I think arrivals are a little late with the cooler weather.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 7:44PM
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jennypat Zone 3b NW MN(Zone 3b NW MN)

Wow, I am way up north by Grand forks ND and saw my first hummingbird at the feeder on Monday, the 12th.

Jenny P

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 7:57PM
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We're 35 miles west of Minneapolis. The first hummingbird arrived on May 5th. I had been watching the map at this link and was prepared with the feeders.

They do love the petunia baskets everyone's been mentioning. It's been a pain bringing things inside everynight but hopefully spring has finally sprung!

We're excited to have a pair of orioles decide to stick around this year. The only disappointment is they hog the hummer feeders. They tick off the goldfinches too when they try to feed off the red dome top on the nyger seed tube feeder. Other feathered friends this year include a pair of rose breasted grossbeaks and white breasted nuthatches.

The hummingbirds are still my favorites though. :) I can't wait for more of the perennial blooms to feed them and plant the annuals. Red salvia is the most popular among the hummers here.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 11:02PM
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Put out a container with grape jelly for your Orioles. They love the stuff. We put ours in a plastic container that John's black electrical tape comes in, works great. We also hang a second liquid feeder, orange one for the Orioles, that will help too. Last night I put out a large orange, cut in half, and 3 Orioles pecked together on them -was Great to watch.

NO HUMMERS yet! They need a certain constant temp to fly, so as it warms up, they should be coming!!!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 6:57AM
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Thanks sandysgardens, for the oriole info. I'll be putting some jelly and oranges out today. We do have two liquid feeders. I'm curious about the orange one. Is the feeder itself orange or is the liquid orange? TIA

I have my fingers crossed for you that the hummers arrive this weekend! :)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 12:17PM
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The hummingbirds loved my Salvia 'May Night' last year. Must be that deep purple color that they love. It's so thrilling to see them, isn't it?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 5:24PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

Saw my first hummingbird a few days ago. Haven't seen it since.
Orioles have been coming around this week also.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 10:28PM
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I saw one yesterday afternoon around my bleeding heart plant. #1 for me this year. We're in Centerville, about 30 miles North of StPaul.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2008 at 2:40PM
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Hummers did arrive this past weekend at home and up at the cabin, so we are happy!

Windytown - my Oriole feeder has a clear top, but the bottom half is orange. You can use clear liquid or you can use orange, but the feeder color being orange is usually enough. The oriole liquid mix is 5 parts water to 1 part sugar, which is a slightly less sweet than the hummer mix (4/1). The feeding holes are a tiny bit bigger for the Orioles and have good perches for them to sit on to eat. I bought it at Fleet Farm.

The hummers use both liquid feeders!


    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 7:54AM
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I'm so happy for you that the hummers arrived! Hooray!

They do make it "real" that spring has arrived. Now if only I could get my annuals and tomatoes in the ground. Grrrr...

Thanks for the oriole feeder info. I don't have a Fleet Farm in my neck of the woods but will check out a couple of places in Waconia where it seems logical they might have them.

Here's to gardening and birds, two of life's greatest pleasures! :)

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 12:07AM
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I have several feeders out, which the hummingbirds just ignore, but then love my blue salvia!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 5:51PM
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Grrr...I hate the preview option! I always hit it and then close the page thinking my post posted! LOL

Michele13bugs - Really neat story about Harley. My mom has families that will nest near the house in a line of pine trees and they'll fight over the feeder and the boys will fight over the girls while the girls sit on our garden fence and watch. And then they'll be trying to chase the babies after they've fledged out of the feeders so they can learn to eat "real" food...So cute! My aunt and uncle have a cabin up on Belle Taine too :) It's hard to say about Harley, while the typical lifespan of a hummer is around 5 years (give or take a few) they can live up to 12 it's possible it could have been him, but it's likely that it was just an offspring with the same chipper personality :) We have some that will "greet" us too at my moms. I'm hoping to coax some to my new house this year...we'll see! I know they love our Delphinium and Monks Hood!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 5:07PM
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If you really enjoy hummingbirds, take a look at this YouTube video -

Here is a link that might be useful: TYWKIWDBI

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 12:16AM
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I'm new to the site and have seen hummingbirds at my back (NE) window in years past, so I bought a feeder this week as well as some "Nectar" (filtered water, sugar, tartaric acid, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate and #30 Red) -- is it okay to use it or mix it with homemade 1:4 boiled sugar water, or should I just return it? I'd like to put the feeder under the wide eave at this NE window -- any feedback on that? Last question -- for the Oriole feeder, how do you keep the ants out of the jam and sugar? Thank you!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 9:24PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

For several years one of my hummingbird feeders has been under the eave at a NE window and is frequented by hummingbirds, orioles, finches, and chickadees.

I never buy nectar, always use the boiled sugar mixture. Go ahead and save the money by returning the nectar if it is not inconvenient. Remember to change the mix often during the hot weather.

I am also interested in what others use as jam and orange feeders for orioles.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 12:25PM
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That is so kool Sunset shepherdess, that your aunt and uncle are on Lake Belle Taine too. There is only one Belle Taine in the state and it is in the top 5 for clarity, 12 feet down you can see the bottom of the lake. Belle Taine means "where the water ceases to flow" since it is the last lake in the Mantrap chain. Well enough of that. I put my hummer feeders out at home here (prior Lake, Savage area) about a week and a half ago because I saw the little guys hanging around where I usually hang them, and up at the lake I was walking on the deck about a week ago and I got dive bombed by one and I think he was telling me to get the food out. I always take an old tupperwear giant plastic cup that holds about 8 cups, heat up the water to hot in the microwave, then pour in the sugar, mix, and heat some more, then refrigerate the nectar til its cold. I never use it all at once, and it keeps very well in the fridge to fill them next time. I always run my hummer feeders through the dishwasher about once a week and it keeps them sparkling clean and free of bacteria and stuff. A few days after I filled tham at the lake the other day two males were fighting over one of the feeders and they both hit the window slightly, but both zooooooomed away, I am pretty sure they are both okay because they kept comming back. If you watch them alot you will see that the hummers will go off and sit very still on a branch somewhere near, so the old theory they never sat still isn't true. One of my favorite authors in the world is a Minnesota native. Maud Hart Lovelace. She wrote the wonderful "Betsy-Tacy series which was based on her childhood in Mankato , she was born in 1892 and the books continue til about the age of 25 when she got married, the last of about 13 book is Betsy's Wedding" I always give her the credit for my love of birds and nature. She also wrote a wonderful childs book, "The Tune Is In The Trees" I read that book about a little girl who is accidentally left home alone, is miniturized by the hummingbirds, goes and lives up in the trees with all the different kinds of birds til her parents get home in a few weeks. I learned so much about birds form that book I still remember.
Michele >^,,^

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 9:39PM
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We had a lot of the Navajo Rose salvia last year and the hummingbirds LOVED it! We didn't have any feeders up and had 2 friendly hummingbirds that came by on a daily basis.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 6:14PM
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I'm so glad to read it's time to put out the feeders. I get so many Hummingbirds in my yard each year but they can be quite territorial with my feeders. I always make my own nectar with 1/4 c sugar and 1 c water. They love it. Now I'm off to fill and hang my feeders

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 4:35PM
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