Hummingbird Feeders

Guest Author

By Calvin Finch, Ph.D., Guest Author

San Antonio is a great place to observe hummingbirds. If you have blooms in your landscape, you probably also have hummingbirds. In the fall and spring we often have three species.

The black-chinned, ruby-throated, and rufous hummingbirds move through in waves. Black-chinned hummingbirds nest in the San Antonio area. They are the summer species.

To supplement the nectar that hummingbirds obtain from blooming plants, provide a feeder with sugar water. There is a huge selection of feeders to choose from. Most of them work well. Select one that has a bee guard and is easy to clean. The feeder needs to be rinsed and refilled every week. Hang the feeder under the eaves or from a trellis in a spot where it is easy to observe.

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe:

Mix one part sugar with four parts of water.

There are special hummingbird mixes on the market. They work fine but are basically just sugar, so it is not necessary to spend the extra money. Some folks mix the solution one or two gallons at a time and store the sugar water in plastic milk jugs in the refrigerator.

Bees and wasps will sometimes dominate the feeder during the day, but usually are not a terrible problem. You can reduce the competition by adding another feeder or two. Bee guards also work. The most obvious bee guards are those that look like cages that fit around the end of the sugar water tube. The cages keep the bees from reaching the sugar solution while the hummingbird bill is long enough to reach the source. In addition to the cages, bees are prevented from reaching the sugar water by plastic flowers that clip into place and again increase the distance between the sugar water and landing site.

Calvin R. Finch is a director at Texas A&M Water Conservation and Technology Center.

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