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Experimenting with sugar water

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Old Sunday 22nd May 2011, 19:36   #1
pauld45
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Experimenting with sugar water

I am currently conducting an experiment with 8 feeders (normal number). In a straight line under my patio, I have feeders at 37 feet(5-1 ratio), 34' (4-1), 31' (3-1), 28' (2-1 wow very thick), 25' (4-1), 22' (4-1), 19' (4-1) & 16' (4-1 ratio). This footage is from where I normally sit. With all feeders filled with 4-1 sugar water, the 37 foot distance feeder is the most popular. The order of poplularity has been 37, 34, 31, 28, 19, 16, 25 & 22. After 4 hours that seems to remain the same although #1 may have shifted to 34' (not certain about this as the 34' feeder has always been very popular, but definitely not to the 28' or 31'). Will know more by tomorrow. There are enough birds moving each other around that a large number of birds have tried the 3-1 & 2-1 ratios and they don't appear to like it any better. Also, my feeders do not leak, but the birds are a little sloppy and the wasps have been on the 5-1 feeder just as much as the 2-1. Strange! Have maybe 12 birds on the feeders most of the time; maybe 30 or more late in the evening or when raining.
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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 04:18   #2
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I believe the 5-1 sugar water will be drained first, the 4-1 2nd, the 3-1 third and the last to be drained will be the 2-1 mix. I believe sitting on a feeder supplying a 4-1 ratio of water to sugar gets lots more calories than flying all over the place feeding from flowers with a sweeter concentration. I will continue to feed my hummers a 4-1 ratio until they start to migrate south; I may then use 3-1. I've seen NO change in the feeding pattern today for any of the feeders. I am a little shocked. Will report back when feeders are about empty.
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Old Monday 23rd May 2011, 13:33   #3
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Just guessing the feeder with the 5-1 ratio will be empty by days end. Just not any extra birds on the sweeter feeders. I was told to roll for fives in Yahtzee because they came up more often. Now I thought this was one of the dumbest things I had ever heard, but was told it was proven in their math class by rolling the dice 1000 times and 5 came up the most. The feeder thing is as if the birds do not care what the ratio is.
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Old Tuesday 24th May 2011, 16:19   #4
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Interesting observations. Over the years I have found 4:1 to work best for the hummers that visit. 5:1 is a close second. 3:1 doesn't attract much, but that is probably due to the fact that they get a concentrated sugar fix so less visits are necessary.
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Old Tuesday 24th May 2011, 18:55   #5
willito
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Have you considered that the learning effect could be playing a role, biasing the results of your observations? Take into consideration that, according to some studies, the so called episodic memory is one of the main mechanisms hummngbirds use to reach good feeding sources.

You may want to have a look at this thread where I've put some further information on the subject:

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=180140

(There's also a link to a very interesting paper showing some related findings).
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Old Tuesday 24th May 2011, 23:47   #6
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I really didn't draw many conclusions from the experiment except that the birds seemed to stick with the preferred feeders, No MATTER what the ratio. Every one of these birds on the 5-1 feeder had to drink from other feeders at some point. I have a lot of birds here so a lot of birds tried the 2-1 and the 3-1. Certain birds seemed to come back to the feeder that was 2-1 (about 9 feet away), but I don't think it would have mattered if I had put 5-1 there; it was just their favorite location. As I stated earlier, I plan to use a 4-1 mix; but I don't think it matters as far as number of birds attracted, etc. If money is a problem, I don't think you will lose any birds by feeding them a 5-1 ratio and I don't think they will be any less nourished because they will drink more. I also think you are wasting your money and not doing the birds any favors by feeding them a 3-1 or stronger mix. The birds will have to stay on the feeders or come back more often (5% more time at your feeders, so that you can enjoy them more) if you only mix it 4-1 instead of 3-1). This is sort of a political issue, the birds will not starve if you take the feeders down. They will come to my house or go get their food on their own in the wilds. Just joking! I would like for everybody to feed hummers with No food dye.
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Old Wednesday 25th May 2011, 00:44   #7
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I mixed some of the red stuff up that came with my preferred feeders several years ago. I got a little on my fingers and it took a couple of weeks to get it off. I also tasted it and it was terrible. Plain old sugar water mixed 4-1 is much better and also tastes great. I still buy those feeders, but chunk the red stuff. If I was interested in making lots of money selling nectar for hummers, I'd make it red (Just as a gimmick, but not thinking abouty the health of the hummer). I still see lots of feeders with red nectar. People who feed lots of birds don't buy the stuff, and adding the dye is lots of trouble since it does nothing. Hummers are definitely attracted to red, but they also know what a feeder looks like and just a small amount of red on the feeder will do the trick. The base of my bottle feeders is red. I have not used red nectar for over 20 years. I say if you are not willing to drink it, then don't feed it to the hummers. I was gone on vacation a few years ago for 2 weeks and was worried about what they had been drinking and tasted it when I got back, still sweet. I am fairly sure that red dye in nectar will only attract a few stray birds only because of the color. Anything red attracts hummers. Back to the mixture: I switched the feeders around and the birds kept coming to the same feeder locations, they didn't say hey this isn't strong enough and move to another feeder. These birds do move around to different feeders, but may have a favorite. I don't have them named or numbered, but I can tell of the number of birds and the 4 different mixes were going down just exactly as if they were all 4-1.
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Old Wednesday 25th May 2011, 12:02   #8
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So, as far as I can see, your experiments seem to support the existence of episodic memory. They actually stick to places where some time there was good nectar, rather than being able to find out each time where the best nectar is. Very interesting indeed.
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Old Wednesday 25th May 2011, 14:45   #9
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May try 100% water, 15-1, 10-1 & 5-1, 4-1, 4-1, 4-1 & 4-1 next week with the 100% water on the most popular feeder. I think they will move till they like the sugar content. I will be shocked if they drain the water first. I also will be shocked if each one dips in there more than once. If they like the water, I might try some ice in it later. They seem to like the nectar right out of the fridge.
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Old Friday 27th May 2011, 17:04   #10
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Couldn't wait to try the plain cool water, so I did. I only let about 5 or 6 birds try it. The results were exactly as I expected; they took one dip into it and then moved to the next feeder.
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Old Saturday 28th May 2011, 00:18   #11
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Deduction: Hummers only drink nectar. I have seen them playing in small fountains but did not see them drink the water. I don't think they are geared to drink both water and nectar. I think they have to have the calories.
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Old Friday 3rd June 2011, 17:29   #12
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Time to change the feeders. Since I have tried 5-1 and plain water, I think I will try 10-1 in the most popular location for a few birds and then switch to 4-1 which is my normal solution (as I THINK everyone should use).
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Old Friday 3rd June 2011, 23:49   #13
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Don't think the hummers liked the 10-1 mix. I did not leave it in long. Tried about 6 birds on the stuff. Most moved to another feeder rather quickly (could have been another house). One bird tried all the spickets before moving to another feeder. Another bird just sat there drinking. No more tricks; will just stick to the 4-1.
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Old Sunday 5th June 2011, 02:07   #14
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Great info.... thx for sharing paul......

Thunderous Applause!!
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Old Friday 10th June 2011, 01:53   #15
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humming bird mix

Have you tried one cup sugar to one cup water??? and instead of food coloring try a bit of powder raspberry juice for color?? (i'm trying to confirm the brand of raspberry juice powder and how much was put in, i think it was 3 pr 4 table spoons) this is the mixture my mom used for her humming bird feeders, and you wouldn't believe the amount of humming birds that were at our house when I was small, it looked like a bee nest but all hummingbirds and when spring came around the humming birds would come to our windows, then we would put out our humming bird feeders, people from our neighbourhood kept asking us why we had so much hummingbirds and they didn't, my mom wouldn't tell anyone except one lady who then attracted the same amount of hummingbirds to her house.

Last edited by carlinraine : Friday 10th June 2011 at 02:18.
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Old Friday 10th June 2011, 03:16   #16
pauld45
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Nobody comes to my house without asking how I got all the hummers. Red colored sugar water used to be standard. That's what my mom used. Don't know how much sugar she put in it, but it must have been lots. I tried 3-1 mix at my previous residence and appeared to have fewer hummer than with 4-1. My hummers don't care if it is 5-1 or 2-1, but I will continue to make it 4-1. I didn't see any point making it 1-1 since they weren't any more interested in 2-1 than 5-1. I know my hummers will drink 1-1 even without trying it on them, but I don't think they will come as often. More sugar won't get more hummers!
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Old Wednesday 21st September 2011, 05:23   #17
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The mentioned 4-1 solution, is it in volume, or weight?

Thanks! --Luca

Last edited by LucaPCP : Wednesday 21st September 2011 at 05:24. Reason: 1-4 --> 4-1
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Old Wednesday 21st September 2011, 06:24   #18
Tz'unun
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It's volume, though it comes pretty close to the same proportion by weight.
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