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Facts About Hummingbirds and Winter

While having lunch today with a group of ladies from my church, we began having a discussion about hummingbirds and winter. This discussion let me know that many people are misinformed about hummingbirds in the winter. Because of my knowledge and love of hummingbirds, I was able to set the record straight concerning these common misconceptions regarding winter and hummingbirds. It is also what has inspired me to write today’s post and I hope that it will enlighten and entertain you.

The normal ratio that is recommended for making homemade nectar solution or sugar water is 4:1. This means four parts water to one part sugar. However, in the winter it is alright to change the ratio of your nectar or hummingbird solution to a ratio of 3:1. I make this point because many people are not aware of this and mistakenly believe that the ratio of nectar solution must always be 4:1. This simply is not true and by changing to a ratio of 3:1, you will be helping to retard the freezing of the nectar solution.

Many people also mistakenly believe that by leaving their hummingbird feeders up in winter that the hummingbirds will not migrate. It is the length of day or photoperiod is what signals to the hummingbird that it is time to migrate and this will occur regardless of whether or not your feeder remains up or not. In other words, the hummingbird will know instinctively when it is time to migrate and the feeder staying up will not stop this.

Many people also mistakenly believe that all hummingbirds must migrate, especially in the colder temperatures of winter. This is not true because not every species of hummingbird migrates. There are also those hummingbirds that are too weak or ill to make the migratory journey any longer or you could have a vagrant hummingbird in your area that is off the path of its journey. These hummingbirds will need to be fed, so it is important that they have a food source available on which to feed.

This is the common misconceptions my friends had about hummingbirds in the winter. If you yourself held any of these misconceptions, I hope that this post has served to inform you on this matter.

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How to Make a Hummingbird Feeder

Who says that a hummingbird feeder needs to be fancy and or expensive to effectively attract hummingbirds? It does not. This video tells you the exact materials you will need to construct this homemade feeder as well as gives you step-by-step instructions on how to make your own homemade hummingbird feeder. Why not give it a try?

Hummingbird Food

Proper Storage of Hummingbird Nectar Solution

Whether you are an avid hummingbird enthusiast or if you are a new fan of hummingbird watching, it is important to be aware that your hummingbird feeders will need to be refilled quite frequently. With this in mind, you may wish to make a fairly large batch of homemade nectar solution ahead of time. Regardless of if you choose to make your own nectar solution or to buy it, you must know just how long it can be kept in the refrigerator and how to store it properly and safely.

Until you have some idea of the number of hummingbirds that will be frequenting your feeders, I would recommend making just enough nectar solution to refill your feeders at the given moment. This helps ensure that the solution is fresh at the time your feeders are replenished.

Once you have a better idea of the number of hummingbirds that will likely be visiting your feeders and with what amount of regularity this will likely occur, you may then decide to mix up a larger batch of nectar solution. This homemade nectar solution can be stored in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. It is important that the nectar solution be properly labeled to ensure that the contents of the container are clearly known to all.

In what type of container should any unused homemade nectar solution be stored? It has been my own experience that either empty milk containers or empty two liter soda bottles seem to work quite well. Another suggestion would be a glass canning jar with a tight fitting lid.

If you should choose to use packaged nectar solution rather then making your own, please be sure and follow the label’s own instructions concerning how to safely store it properly.

A final word of caution, regardless of if you make your own homemade nectar solution or you choose to use packaged nectar solution, if you have any doubt as to whether or not the solution is still safe or not please discard it as a precaution. If the mixture is discolored, foul-smelling or cloudy this would indicate that the mixture has spoiled and must be disposed of immediately.

Hummingbird Food

Never Use Honey In Nectar Solution

Honey should never be used to sweeten homemade nectar solution! I cannot stress this point enough, please do not use honey in your hummingbird feeders! This post will explain why this should never occur.

Honey will ferment extremely rapidly and as a result a deadly bacterium will form in the homemade nectar solution. Honey has been altered by the honey bees and it is therefore made up of the flower nectar and anything else that the honey bee has injected, digested and spit back out again. It may surprise you to discover that honey is not “more natural” then white cane sugar or table sugar. Honey is nothing like the sugar found in flower nectar or white table sugar.

Please do the hummingbirds a favor and never use honey as an alternate source of sweetener in your homemade nectar solution. I am certain that none of us whom enjoy hummingbirds wishes to cause harm to these magnificent birds. Homemade nectar solution is quite easy to make and it is the best way to go when feeding hummingbirds.

The recipe for homemade nectar solution is as follows:

Use 1 part white table sugar to 4 parts water. Heat the mixture on the stove, not in the microwave oven, for 1-2 minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve completely, without causing the mixture to overheat and therefore become syrupy. Let the mixture cool completely and then fill and hang your hummingbird feeder.