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Old Saturday 12th August 2017, 21:00   #1
pva
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Hummingbird nectar question

Hello,

I'm in Washington state, feeding hummingbirds for many years. I always prepare my own syrup. Recently I've bought the new feeder, and it came with two bottles of the red nectar, so I decided to try. The birds refuse to drink it! They try a little, then fly away.

I wonder - has anyone tried this red nectar? Do they actually drink it? Or maybe they are just spoiled here, because it's summer, there are still some flowers, plus there are other feeders around? Not sure what to do with this nectar - keep it or throw away.

Thank you.
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Old Saturday 12th August 2017, 21:46   #2
KC Foggin
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Whatever you do, do not use that red liquid. It can be harmful to the Hummers if they do decide to sip it. Use just plain water and sugar. 1 cup sugar to 4 cups of boiled water.
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Old Saturday 12th August 2017, 21:51   #3
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Hello,

I'm in Washington state, feeding hummingbirds for many years. I always prepare my own syrup. Recently I've bought the new feeder, and it came with two bottles of the red nectar, so I decided to try. The birds refuse to drink it! They try a little, then fly away.

I wonder - has anyone tried this red nectar? Do they actually drink it? Or maybe they are just spoiled here, because it's summer, there are still some flowers, plus there are other feeders around? Not sure what to do with this nectar - keep it or throw away.
Since the hummers don't like it, I'd just toss the stupid stuff. There's no bigger scam in the bird food industry than artificially colored sugar water sold to the unwary.
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Old Saturday 12th August 2017, 22:00   #4
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Thanks, I agree. I always use 1 part of sugar to 4 parts of water.
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Old Monday 9th October 2017, 23:46   #5
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Yes, 1 part sugar to 4 parts water is what is recommended by ornithologists, including the Cornell people. No food coloring necessary to attract hummers to a feeder - they are smart little things and they know a feeder when they see it, no matter what shape, size or color it is or what color the nectar is.
I recommend boiling the water and sugar mixture up. I use a pyrex tea kettle and can make just over 7 cups of nectar at once (barely a 3-day supply for my 4 feeders this time of year!). In my experience, the boiling gets rid of any bacteria or other negative things in the tap water and boiled nectar keeps for at least a week in the fridge. It also seems to not get yucky as fast in the feeders, although I clean and refill my feeders every 3 days, empty or not... although right now, it's sometimes daily or every other day because of the rate of nectar consumption.
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Old Tuesday 10th October 2017, 00:38   #6
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. . .they are smart little things and they know a feeder when they see it, no matter what shape, size or color it is or what color the nectar is. . ..
Indeed they do, and in any case natural nectar is colorless; its the flowers that are red.
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Old Thursday 2nd November 2017, 21:59   #7
SoCalHummerLady
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Indeed they do, and in any case natural nectar is colorless; its the flowers that are red.
I have purple Mexican sages in my yard, as well as pink, white and red Gregg sages and an orange Cape honeysuckle (which the hummers adore!). I planted all of these because they are popular with hummers. I think it's not only red coloring that attracts them, but the tubular shape of the flowers, whatever the color. They go after my pink and purple Peruvian lilies, too, sometimes even my blue Lilies of the Nile, although I don't know if they're getting much out of those.
I've seen some of my longer-term resident hummers try other flowers - roses and lantana, for instance - once or twice and then not go back to those because there's evidently no nectar to speak of.
Although, having said that, hummers around here love bottlebrush plants and trees and they aren't tubular at all! But, most of them are red and they seem to have a bit of nectar down in the bases of the red sticky filaments. I once had a hummer make a nest in my yard that was all held together with the sticky red filaments from a nearby bottlebrush tree. It was a strikingly pretty nest until the color faded.
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