Bird watchers often attempt to attract hummingbirds with red feeders filled with sugar water. The red color and sweet nectar may attract several other birds, too, especially if your hummingbird feeder comes with a perch. Sugar water also attracts bugs, which may draw some insect-eating birds to your feeder.
There are 35 different species of sparrows in various parts of North and South America. They usually hide in marshes and grasses, but some varieties will seek out a feeder. Their diet consists mostly of seeds, particularly sunflower seeds, but, like hummingbirds, they occasionally eat insects.
Woodpeckers are found in woodland areas of North America, and usually feed on insects, fruit and nuts. The Defenders of Wildlife estimate there are 180 different species of woodpecker, four of which are on the endangered species list. These different species range in size from 6 to 21 inches.
The chickadee is a favorite among bird watchers due to its cute appearance and cheerful singing voice. Chickadees are easily drawn to feeders, and enjoy sweet foods such as sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet.
House finches, who usually feed on seeds, are attracted to hummingbird feeders with perches and flared out edges. These birds are native to the western United States, but as of 2010 can be found in eastern regions, particularly urban areas and forest edges.
The Baltimore Oriole, a common yet declining North American songbird, is welcome in most yards due to its attractive orange and black coloring and taste for flying and crawling insect pests. It is also known to nibble at hummingbird feeders. These birds breed in the eastern United States during the warmer months, and spend winters in Central and South America.
Hummingbird feeders should be set out two weeks before the start of their spring migration. They should be put out by mid-March for most of the United States and the first of April for the northern states.
Hummingbird Feeding Needs
Hummingbirds need both protein (small insects) and energy (nectar, or hummingbird food) in order to survive. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, a hummingbird will consume “half its weight in sugar daily.” Homemade hummingbird food and a well-placed feeder will go a long way in helping this species survive.
Hummingbird Food Recipe
An easy hummingbird food recipe is to first boil four cups of water for more than thirty seconds, then mix water with one cup pure cane sugar. Fill hummingbird feeder and refrigerate remaining food for up to two weeks. Refresh every four to five days.
Do not use honey or artificial sweeteners when making hummingbird food, and avoid food dyes. Do not microwave mixture. Do not allow feeder to become dirty or to form yeast. Soak in vinegar or warm sudsy water to clean, making sure to rinse well before returning it outside.
Purchase an ant guard or ant moat from a garden center. They look like small cups or bowls and are available either in solid colors or with designs such as tulips and other flowers.
Slide the feeder chain through the center hole in the ant guard so the cup is facing up. Slide it down the chain until it is nearly resting on top the feeder.
Hang the feeder from a tree branch or porch eaves as usual.
Fill the cup with water. Ants can't cross over the water from the chain to the feeder.
Empty and refill the cup every time you refill your feeder.
Remove any yellow from the hummingbird feeder, or purchase a feeder with no yellow. Bees love the color yellow.
Dilute the syrup you put in the hummingbird feeder. A mixture of five parts water to one part sugar is still sweet enough for hummingbirds, but may not be as tasty to bees.
Clean the hummingbird feeder regularly. Sugar water that has fermented or that has become thick and sticky in the sun will be especially attractive to bees. Change the mixture at least once each week during warm weather.
Place the hummingbird feeder in the shade -- bees prefer sunlight.
Call a beekeeper if the bees become a serious problem.
Tiny hummingbirds are territorial. Hang more than one feeder to deter fighting. Place them at least 6 feet apart, out of each other's sight line, so feeding birds cannot see one another.
Hang a hummingbird feeder in an open, shady spot near brightly-colored flowers to attract the attention of the birds and protect the nectar from spoiling in the sun.
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