(Submitted photo)

Follow these tips for caring for hummingbirds, then sit back and enjoy the show

Some helpful hints for Hummingbird enthusiasts

Our three species of hummingbirds have returned. The largest is the Black-Chinned, the bossiest is the Rufous and the smallest kid on the block is the Calliope. Quick tip, if you cannot consistently feed during the season (April through August) then just rely on your plants to feed these little ones. Many of us keep our feeders out until late September to catch any stray hummers migrating south.

This season let’s keep our feeders clean, make our own food and supply plants that they love. We can sit back and enjoy the show.

Hummingbird Feeding Hints:

  • Clean with HOT water (no soap).
  • Feeder should be completely dismantled and feeding ports taken apart.
  • Use a bottle brush for inverted feeders and pipe cleaners for the small holes.
  • Every time you refill your feeder take it apart and rinse with hot water.
  • Twice a week use the brush and pipe cleaners to ensure it’s clean.
  • BLACK MOULD is a death sentence for hummingbirds. If there is any sign of it soak your feeder for 1 hour in a mixture of 1/4 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water. Rinse the parts several times in hot water to remove all traces of the bleach.


  • Glass feeders are the best. If you buy plastic, make sure that it is “Food Grade Plastic” or “UV Stabilized.” This ensures there is no chemical leakage into the food they eat. Cheap plastic disintegrates and will contaminate the food.
  • Whether you use inverted feeders or the basin style make sure that the feeder can be COMPLETELY DISMANTLED for cleaning.


  • The best food for the hummingbirds is made by you.
  • ONE part WHITE SUGAR to FOUR parts WATER. Boil water in a pot then add sugar, or you may add boiling water from a kettle to sugar stir till it completely dissolves. Cool to room temperature before filling the feeder. You can store this in the fridge for 7 days.
  • NEVER USE brown sugar, honey or sugar substitutes as these contain components that will harm the birds.
  • DO NOT use red dye (the red on the feeder is all that is needed to attract them). DO NOT add scent
  • If the food is cloudy it is bad, clean feeder and refill.
  • Even though it may not look like it the food can go bad quickly in hot weather.
  • To avoid mould change your food frequently, err on the side of caution.
  • Temp 25 or less, change every four days, 25 – 30 every two days, over 30, every day.
  • Only fill the feeder with what is being used between cleanings.


  • You may already have perennial hummingbird plants in your garden like bee balm, bleeding hearts, columbine, foxglove, honeysuckle, joe pye plant and Russian sage to name a few, but you can accent those plants with annuals in containers or hanging baskets.These can be salvia, fuschia, snapdragons, verbena, zinnia and the old favorite petunias..
  • Keep your hanging baskets beyond the reach of predators.

For more information on hummingbirds go to rpbo.org/hummingbirds.php.

Karen Siemens

Special to the Morning Star

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