Hummingbirds are one of the most popular birds and the ruby-throated is the most wide spread. This remarkable tiny bird migrates non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico each spring and then back again each fall. Southeastern Arizona is THE hotspot for observing hummingbirds and certain areas attract thousands of visitors each spring and summer to observe the common species and hope for a rare visitor from Mexico.

The colorful rufous hummingbird is normally found in the western half of the U.S. but wonders widely in the winter and is showing up on a regular basis (still rare) each winter in the eastern half of the country. Another intrepid navigator is the green violet-ear hummingbird. This hummer is normally found in Mexico, is rare in Texas, but has been reported as far north as Canada.

Photograph by
Bill Horn

What mix of sugar and water should I use in my hummingbird feeder. Do I need to add red food coloring?
While commercial mixes are available it is easy to make your own hummingbird nectar. Simply mix 4 parts water with one part white granulated sugar. Heat and stir the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool and your done.

- Do not use brown sugar or honey.

- You do not need to add red food coloring.

In hot weather feed only as much sugar water as the hummingbirds consume in a day or two. Extended periods of exposure to hot weather can cause the sugar water to ferment.

A wide selection of hummingbird feeders is available from the
Hummingbird Pro Shop - A Specialty Shop. This feeder has a built-in ant trap.

How can I prevent bees and yellow jackets from using my hummingbird feeders? Ants are getting into my hummingbird feeder. What can I do?

There are bee guards to fit over the openings of some feeder styles. Many saucer-type feeders are designed to keep the sugar solution away from the bees' mouth parts. Bees can reach into a feeding portal only about 1/4-inch, but hummingbirds are able to reach an inch or more.

For ants, some feeders have a built-in water trap. Place a little water in the water trap to prevent the ants from crawling to the feeding area. You can also purchase commercial ant/insect traps which are mounted above the feeder and filled with water.

When should I take down my hummingbird feeder in the fall? If I leave it up too long will it prevent the hummingbirds from migrating?

You may leave your feeder up as long as hummingbirds are coming to it. Migration is triggered but the length of the day, not the temperature so you are not likely to endanger a hummingbird by having your feeder out too late in the year.

Visit the Hummingbird Section of the Web site for more extensive information on hummingbirds.


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