When and how to put out your feeders!
Here at The Birdhouse in our location of the world, we highly suggest putting your feeders out the start of the last week of April.
There are a few of the males who forge ahead of everyone else and show up in our neck of the woods hungry. Its an incredibly long journey over the gulf of Mexico and the United States to finally cross the border over the lake and into southern Ontario.
You can buy powdered or liquid concentrate nectar in prepared formulations in store or you can use a 4:1 ratio of water to table sugar.
Please do not deviate from table sugar as the other sugars on the market have too much mineral content and can make the birds ill, potentially killing them. You'll also never see hummingbirds sipping honey in the wild, so don't mix honey with water and think its an adequate nectar substitute. This can cause a killer fungal infection.
You don't need to use boiling water unless you have difficulty dissolving the sugar.
Feeders MUST be cleaned regularly, every 2-3 days, especially in the heat of summer. There are potential bacteria on the beaks of the hummingbirds that can transmit disease to other hummingbirds, so clean feeders are a must.
So much so, that if you cannot commit to a regular cleaning regimen, please don't feed the hummingbirds. If you love the birds like we do, we know you don't want to see the aftermath of not cleaning them.
Clean feeders will also help keep the hummingbirds coming. An ant moat, added above a feeder, or built into some of the better feeders, will keep ants out of the hummingbirds way. Ants and hummers do not mix! As they decay in the sugar water from drowning, there is a school of thought that they become toxic to the little birds. And it will drive you round the bend to be cleaning ants out of the nectar - it gets gross!
When the momma's go into nesting mode, your nectar feeders will likely become very quiet. The hummingbirds at this point tend to move to a more insect based diet for protein to help feed their babies. They will return to the feeders after though with babies though, so don't dishearten and give up.
You can also try to use a HumBug feeder at this point. It uses banana peels to attract fruit flies which in turn feeds the hummingbirds during nesting season.
Don't forget to place your feeders amongst the flowers that attract the hummingbirds and in a place where you can sit and watch and enjoy them. They're very territorial and can make quite a racket amongst themselves if you're lucky enough to see more than one on your property at your feeders.