Correcting Hummingbird Feeder Problems
People have been fascinated by hummingbirds for centuries. It is no wonder that these tiny flying jewels are some of the most desired and watched birds today. Chances are good that you or someone you know has a hummingbird feeder. Some hummingbirders, especially those new to the pastime, are likely to have questions about solving some common problems. Pests, rapid nectar spoilage, and dripping feeders are common with beginning hummingbird enthusiasts.
In addition to hummingbirds, bees, ants, and wasps are attracted to the nectar in hummingbird feeders. All is not lost, however, as these problems can usually be corrected easily. Ants, although tenacious, are the easiest pest to prevent from swarming your feeders. Hang your feeder from an ant moat or spindle to completely control an ant problem. Some ant moats are filled with water and force the insects to cross before reaching the feeder cord. Ants are not swimmers and will not cross the moat to reach the feeder. These moats require frequent filling, though, which some of us are not prepared to do on a daily basis. A great alternative is filling the moat or spindle with Vaseline, petroleum jelly, or grease. Any of these may easily be re-activated by stirring with a toothpick and will likely last a good portion of the feeding season.
Bees, wasps, and other flying insects are a little more difficult to control as they are airborne, like hummingbirds. The best method of controlling flying insects is through prevention. Be sure to clean the outside of your feeders thoroughly as any residual nectar there is irresistible to bees and wasps. Also, avoid placing your feeders in full sun. Bees and wasps are much more likely to swarm a feeder in the sun. If you are aware that you a have a bee or wasp problem, avoid purchasing feeders with yellow on them or paint the yellow portions of the feeder with red nail polish. The last resort for controlling these insects should be "painting" Vaseline, petroleum jelly, or oil around the nectar ports, taking care not to drip any into the nectar solution. This will make it difficult for the insects to land.
One of the most harmful problems, especially to our beloved hummers, is rapid nectar spoilage. Spoiled nectar can easily prevent hummingbirds from visiting your feeders in the future and can be harmful to the birds if they do sample it. Nectar will typically go bad within a week in most areas and within four days in very hot areas. In some cases, however, nectar will spoil even more quickly. By following some simple guidelines, you can maximize the nectar you serve. Keep the feeder out of full, direct sun and be sure to refrigerate the nectar supply while not in the feeder. Refrigerated nectar will last about two weeks. One of the best ways to reduce spoiling is by making your own nectar with boiling water. Mix 1 cup of sugar in 4 cups of boiling water. Not only will the boiling water make mixing the sugar easier, but it will also kill spores or bacteria that contribute to spoilage.
Some hummingbird feeders naturally drip. Blown glass or globe style hummingbird feeders will generally drip to some extent, so if you have a bee problem or do not like the dripping, convert to a bottle or saucer style feeder as these styles will not typically leak. There are some measures to reduce the dripping of a blown glass or globe style feeder. Always fill your feeder completely; these feeders work by vacuum principle. Leave as little or no air trapped inside the feeder with each filling. Avoid placing the feeder in the direct sunlight. The warming of the nectar will increase the dripping.
BestNest carries a full line of hummingbird feeders in a variety of styles as well as ant moats, spindles, and deterrents. Visit Hummingbird Feeders to view all our exciting hummingbird related items.