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I need: best formula for Hummingbirds

Posted Tuesday, April 21, 2009, at 8:46 AM

(Photo)
What do i feed you?
Hi avid gardeners and friends, can you tell me the best homemade formula for attracting hummingbirds?

I had been using sugar water, but I don't know how much or little to use. What are your thoughts?


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does anyone use Vanilla in the feeders also? My mother in law swore by it.

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Wed, Apr 22, 2009, at 5:47 PM

plant rose of sharon bushes.

-- Posted by lazarus on Wed, Apr 22, 2009, at 4:00 PM

I use the same recipe as allwrappedup. My little birds love it!

-- Posted by Christian Dad on Wed, Apr 22, 2009, at 3:35 PM

I worked for years at a local backyard birding store, so I am rather familiar with the topic of hummers. 3 parts water, 1 part sugar, mix in nearly boiling water to dissolve, let cool in fridge. Do not use red dye, as it can be harmful to the reproductive system of the birds, and it is unnecessary anyway. Hummers have been feeding on flowers since before the advent of mankind - they do not need the food coloring. They are attracted to reds, pinks, purples, and other bright colors indicative of flowers. Any hummer feeder with red or other bright color will do just fine. PLEASE DON'T USE DYE! ENJOY THE BIRDS!

-- Posted by paradise on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 2:39 PM

I've always used the 4-1 mix of water/sugar. I finally got tired of waiting for my mixture to cool and started boiling 1 cup water and the 1 cup of sugar together and then adding in the other 3 cups of water. Makes the overall batch luke warm and cool enough to go ahead and put in the 4 feeders I've got without having to wait. And I also double the batch so that I don't have to make it every few days.

I don't know about making the mixture "healthier" though. I do notice a drop off in feeding activity during the summer months which I attribute to the abundance of flowers for the little guys and to them more of a "buffet" that they can pick and choose from. And I read somewhere that the food color doesn't necessarily bring them to the feeder, so I've quit adding it. My feeder has red on it, so I've left it at that.

-- Posted by neighborhood mom on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 11:44 AM

I use the mix my mother always used, 4 cups of water, 1 cup of sugar. Heat the water to boiling, add the sugar, stir to dissolve, cool before putting in feeders. I usually make a double batch each time, keep the extra in the refrigerator. I usually have 4 or 5 feeders. Have dozens of hummingbirds, most of the time each feeder is full with birds. I put 2 of the feeders up on Sunday, saw birds on them last night. I got my favorite feeders at bestnest.com, small glass bottles, the bottom screws on, also comes apart for cleaning.

-- Posted by allwrappedup on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 10:26 AM

3.5 cups of water to 1 cup of sugar. Warm on the stovetop until its warm enough to dissolve when stirred. Add a drop of red food coloring and let cool. Main key is fresh juice(change atleast every 3-4 days) and keep your cleaner free from the black "gunk" that wants to grow around it. Ive already had several on my feeder this year. Good luck!

-- Posted by thementalist on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 10:02 AM

I agree with Steve. That is the formula that I have been using for years except that I heat it on the stovetop to boiling, and I just use unfiltered tap water.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 9:10 AM

I use one part sugar to 3 parts filtered water. So basically I fill a measuring cup with 1/4 sugar and fill up the rest with water. I heat it in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes, then stir to dissolve. If it is too hot, I either wait or put in a cube of ice.

I too would like to know if there is a healthier mix. From reading, the experts are mixed unless they are selling their own mix.

From what I can glean from the internet, most hummers will forage flowers and woodpecker holes for sap, nectar, pollen and insects to get their nutrients.

That is the extent of my knowledge, so I will sit back and read other's responses.

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Apr 21, 2009, at 9:00 AM


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Lesa Cox
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Lesa Cox has owned a cleaning service and a bookstore; now, she repairs and maintains computers for the elderly and others on a fixed income. She enjoys animals, gardening, books and fixing old cars. She and her husband have one son, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome.