Jul 26, 2017 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, August 2017

Ask Birdsquatch: Hummer Bummer

A black-chinned hummingbird discovers a new backyard feeder.
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Dear Birdsquatch:

My hummingbirds are ignoring my feeder. I've had it up for a month now but not a single bird has taken a drink. They visit it, look at it, and leave. What's going on?

—Maggie M, Oak Harbor, OH

Dear Maggie,

Wake up Maggie, I think I've got something to say to you. It's almost September and it's time to change your hummer food. [With apologies to the great Rod Stewart].

My hummer-loving friend, I believe the solution in your feeder might be spoiled and the hummers are smart enough not to drink it. At this point it's either toxic or basically a batch of backyard moonshine! So please, for the love of nature, empty it out, clean the feeder thoroughly, and refill it with some fresh nectar. Your hummers will thank you.

During the summer, when most of us enjoy peak numbers of hummingbirds at our feeding stations and in our gardens, the sun and hot temperatures can make the sugar-water in the feeder spoil quite rapidly. Some feeder operators I know replace the feeder contents daily during very hot weather, just to be sure it's not spoiling. That's dedication!

If you still get no feeder action after cleaning and refilling, consider moving your feeder to a new location—perhaps near some flowering, nectar-producing native plants in your garden or next to a hanging basket that's in bloom. A red ribbon or handkerchief can also be used as a brightly colored beacon for passing hummingbirds.

For my money, there's nothing better than natural nectar sources, such as native flowering plants. You can find a list of hummingbird-friendly plants specific to your region at this link on the Bird Watcher's Digest website »

Good luck, Maggie! I was going to end this answer with some more lyrics from "Maggie May" but they aren't that flattering to the Maggie that Rod was singing about, so let's just leave things be. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to find myself a rock-n-roll band that needs a helping hand.



About Birdsquatch

Birdsquatch is WBB's tall, hairy, and slightly stinky columnist. He is a bigfoot who has watched birds all his life. His home range is unknown.


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