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Oklahoma's Summer Jewels

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds

Hummingbird Feeder Basics


A simple way to attract hummingbirds closer to your home is by setting out a sugar-water feeder specifically designed for hummers. Use a formula of one part sugar to four parts boiled water to produce a solution that approximates that found in natural flower nectar. NEVER use honey or sugar substitutes; also, do not add red food coloring to the water, because the red feeder ports will automatically attract the birds.

Place the feeders outside by early April and leave them up until at least November 1. This will provide for both early spring ruby-throats and late fall migrants, as well as the other three species of hummingbirds. Other birds such as orioles and chickadees also may be attracted to your humminghird feeder. Feeders may be left out with fresh nectar as long as birds drink from them. The hummingbirds will migrate when they are ready, so leaving feeders up later will provide an additional energy source for any stragglers. Sometimes, hummers will not use feeders during part of the summer. During this time, they are feeding off nectar from flowering plants and gleaning insects from flowers or the air for their young.

Place feeders in the shade. If more than one is used, place them far apart to avoid competition from the territorial hummingbirds. Feeders should be cleaned periodically with hot water and vinegar. During cool weather, replace nectar and clean feeders at least once a week; during warm or hot weather, replace nectar and clean feeders every three or four days. If feeders are not cleaned, a fungus will develop in the solution that can kill hummingbirds.


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