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Old 05-13-2011, 01:29 PM
 
2,455 posts, read 5,237,832 times
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This year I have done something very different than all the other years. I decided to make my own glucose water for hummingbirds and the Baltimore Orioles we get. It was chancy what I did, but today I saw with my own eyes it is working.

I refuse to feed these birds dyes any longer, so I made my own sugar water with organic cane sugar and water. I put this water in my red plastic hummingbird feeder and I took off the little plastic flowers. My intention was to attract both the hummingbirds that come here as well as the Baltimore Orioles. I was uncertain if because the water itself was not orange, that these birds would still come to the feeder.

Well, today I saw both these birds come to the feeder, so I am using one hummingbird feeder to feed both hummingbirds and Orioles. Isn't that way cool? And they are getting good nutrition, not chemicals and dyes.

I was just so excited when I saw this today, I had to share it with you all so that you too will stop using the dyed hummingbird feed. Organic cane sugar and water really does work!
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Old 05-13-2011, 04:36 PM
 
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I found placing geraniums in the window boxes draws the hummingbirds like a magnet.
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Old 05-13-2011, 09:32 PM
 
Location: TX
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You've got the right idea about using the sugar water...the dye isn't good for them anyway. I only feed hummingbirds...feeder and also plants.
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Old 05-14-2011, 06:05 AM
 
Location: Sacramento, Placerville
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I've never heard of hummingbirds having problems with dye.

One thing to consider is cane sugar is simply energy and no nutrition. It probably isn't a problem in the warmer months when they feed on plants and insects. But they may want to hang around in the colder months instead of migrating simply because you have a feeder out there.

Planting the right plants will attract more hummingbirds than a feeder. Try planting some salvias, cupheas, zinnias and other things they like.
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Old 05-14-2011, 10:30 AM
 
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Garden, I've been doing that for years. 1/3 cup sugar to 2/3 cups BOILING water. Mix together, let cool and then put in feeder. Also be sure you keep the feeders clean. Every time I re-fill them I first add a mild solution of bleach and water. Let that sit a couple of hours. Rinse thoroughly and you are good to go! (The bleach solution kills the mold which may grow inside the feeders.)

Do you feed other birds as well? I do. We have both hanging feeders for seed and seed platforms. (Flat surface raised off the ground.) We have a nail driven through the bottom of the raised platform. Every so often I put 1/2 an orange on the nail. That attracts the orioles as well.

(Plus of course lots of natural plants to bring them in.)
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Old 05-14-2011, 11:16 AM
 
Location: N of citrus, S of decent corn
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I have done this for years, too. My recipe is 1c sugar to 4c water, bring it to a boil to dissolve the sugar and sterilize it. The hummers don't give a fig that it is not red. Every fill, I also clean the feeder with a mild bleach solution to avoid mold.
I have never seen an oriole in either Ohio or GA, but I think I'll try orange slices this year, since I hear they like that.
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Old 05-14-2011, 11:43 AM
 
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I have the feeling the red dye may have started as a nectar maker gimmick so that people wouldn't make their own hummingbird nectar. Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, and seem to prefer red flowers (before someone says they go to other colors note I said prefer, research has shown that they prefer red but some prefer other colors depending on when in the season their natural food sources bloom) and will investigate red objects, like T-shirts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KC6ZLV View Post
I've never heard of hummingbirds having problems with dye. The very little research done so far agrees that the dye does not seem to be harmful to hummers but it is totally unnecessary.


One thing to consider is cane sugar is simply energy and no nutrition. It probably isn't a problem in the warmer months when they feed on plants and insects. But they may want to hang around in the colder months instead of migrating simply because you have a feeder out there.
Hummers feed on insects, not plants, and use nectar (feeder or plant source) for energy boosts. Leaving feeders out causing them to skip migration has been proven to be an old wives tail by banding and other research tracking hummer migration. Availability of food has absolutely nothing to do with migration, they will migrate at the right time each year. In fact I've seen the same pattern for years now as the males always leave before the females and juveniles with the feeders still in use. See the link at the bottom of this reply.

Planting the right plants will attract more hummingbirds than a feeder. Try planting some salvias, cupheas, zinnias and other things they like.

I do both, feeders keep them coming to where I can see them more often but they spend quite a bit of time with flowers on my deck as well as in the garden.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee W. View Post
You've got the right idea about using the sugar water...the dye isn't good for them anyway. I only feed hummingbirds...feeder and also plants.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DewDropInn View Post
Garden, I've been doing that for years. 1/3 cup sugar to 2/3 cups BOILING water. Mix together, let cool and then put in feeder. Also be sure you keep the feeders clean. Every time I re-fill them I first add a mild solution of bleach and water. Let that sit a couple of hours. Rinse thoroughly and you are good to go! (The bleach solution kills the mold which may grow inside the feeders.)

I use a very simple feeder (Hummzinger) that does not have shapes promoting easy mold growth and can skip the chlorine wash. I change the liquid often enough that mold does not get a foothold and have found a vinegar solution for washing and rinse is enough to keep the surfaces from providing a place for mold to take hold. The more intricately shaped feeders can grow mold much more readily and in our heat and humidity I'd know very quickly of it had bacteria growing. Your concentration is quite strong when compared to the usually recommended amounts of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Is there a reason you've gone that way? After reading a detailed research paper someone did on the natural concentration of sugar in the flowers most attractive to hummingbirds I've been staying with something between 1 part sugar to 3 parts water and 1 part sugar and 4 parts water. So far it seems OK. They did indicate that with more sugar in the solution the birds actually fed much less often, so I guess most won't become diabetic. LOL

Do you feed other birds as well? I do. We have both hanging feeders for seed and seed platforms. (Flat surface raised off the ground.) We have a nail driven through the bottom of the raised platform. Every so often I put 1/2 an orange on the nail. That attracts the orioles as well.

(Plus of course lots of natural plants to bring them in.)


There are a few websites about Hummers with varying degrees of helpful info. Here's one with a fairly long FAQ including leaving feeders out as long as they are around: About Hummingbirds


Here's a list of research papers and links to most if you really want to know more about them: Hum Topic (http://biology.georgefox.edu/~dpowers/Powers/HumTopic.html - broken link)
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Old 05-14-2011, 11:55 AM
 
Location: Mtns of Waynesville,NC & Nokomis, FL
4,087 posts, read 7,549,810 times
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We over stuff the sugar into boiling water: as much as we can dissolve in a pint or so...
we have dozens of hummers by mid summer. The sugar water, regardless of concentration or
'source' of the glucose/sucrose is simply an energy fix for them; it is not their lunch or dinner.
Most ruby throated live on insects and the sugar water is simply a quick energy hit.
GL, mD
Attached Thumbnails
Success with Hummingbirds and Baltimore Oriole-hummers-reduce-less.jpg  
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Old 05-16-2011, 04:59 AM
 
Location: zone 5
7,330 posts, read 12,472,109 times
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I have read that the ratio of sugar to water shouldn't be more than 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. They might like it better if there's more sugar but it's not good for them. And the red dye isn't necessary, so it's probably better not to use it. They always say they like trumpet shaped flowers and red flowers the best, but the one time I saw a hummingbird so far this year, it was drinking from ajuga flowers (purple groundcover), rather than from the feeder, fuschias or petunias.
Also it's very important to change the nectar and clean the feeder at least twice a week, more in hot weather. A somewhat shadier location will keep the nectar from spoiling longer.
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Old 05-16-2011, 07:07 AM
 
Location: zone 5
7,330 posts, read 12,472,109 times
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BTW if you love hummingbirds, there is a webcam of a hummingbird nest in Irvine, CA that is very cool.

Phoebe Allens WebCam

Phoebe is a non-migratory hummingbird. She has 4-5 broods a year in a rose bush in a man's yard. I've seen the last 3 and it's wonderful. She currently has only one baby, who is due to fledge May 19-26. This will be her last nesting until October so check it out now.
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