Please keep your hummingbird feeders ultra clean otherwise you may kill them and their babies. Please clean every other day, or refrain from putting them out.
You set your feeder out because you love those amazing hummingbirds. The correct ratio of sugar to water is 1:4, or ¼ cup of sugar to 1 cup of hot water. Increase or decrease the quantities as desired, but make sure you stick to the 1:4 ratio. Use regular refined white sugar, not organic sugar, honey, artificial sweeteners, brown sugar, or other sugar products, all of which can be difficult for hummingbirds to digest. If you can’t commit to keeping them clean ((water, hot water and microfiber cloth do well. Use a spatula handle or brush covered in microfiber (microfiber which is made from plastic is not good for the environment, but if you already own one), or natural fiber and get every surface especially corners every other day or daily in summer)), please refrain from putting out feeders. Don’t use brushes on plastic, as that can create micro scratches in plastic where mold will grow. It is not true that hummingbirds will not use dirty feeders. Proper care of Hummingbird feeders takes a significant commitment on your part, so please consider this before you start. Please Note: If you do not follow these instructions, you could be responsible for giving Hummingbirds a serious and deadly fungus infection. This fungus condition causes their tongues to swell, making it impossible for the Hummingbird to eat. Ultimately, they die of starvation, a slow and painful death. Please do it right or don’t do it at all. Maintain feeder cleanliness – You will need to wash the feeder out in very hot water every two to three days. Scrub all surfaces then rinse well. I use cooled boiled water to rinse. You are boiling the water for food after all. In hot weather, above 60 degrees, clean and change feeder every 2 days. Hummingbirds put their tongues into the feeder to drink and sugar water is a good medium for the growth of pathogens. If you see any mold in the feeder or the mixture becomes cloudy, then it was left up too long. Remember, if it is not clean enough for you to drink from, then, your feeder is not fit for these delicate little Hummingbirds. Proper maintenance of feeders needs to be strongly emphasized. The Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center’s Hummingbird rescue team rehabilitates hundreds of hummingbirds of which 10% or more of those received have fungus infections from improperly maintained feeders. These include sick adults or the sick babies of dead or about to die mother Hummingbirds. Unfortunately, not all of them make it. Because of their diet, treatment of candidiasis in Hummingbirds is extremely difficult.
We are very blessed to have hummingbirds year round in the San Francisco Bay Area. Also, yellow “flowers” attract yellow jackets. Look for feeders without yellow flowers or paint them with nail polish.
Evolution is an amazing thing. Hummingbirds use their wings to beat away bees (etc) which compete for nectar. Best yet, plant pollinators. These will bring hummers and others.