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Hummingbird feeder care

                                                 Photo submitted
By Shari Harris

Many welcome spring and the return of the hummingbirds. Feeders pop out everywhere, and people wonder at the wings that beat so fast and cause the namesake “hum.”
However, many do not realize the importance of caring for your hummingbird feeders correctly, to avoid injuring the birds they so hope to attract. Deadly fungus infections occur when feeders are not cleaned correctly.
Selection of the right feeder is important. Feeders should be shaped to allow easy cleaning of all inside surfaces. The Missouri Department of Conservation recommends those with plastic mesh covers that prevent bees or wasps from getting into the nectar.
Commercial hummingbird food is not recommended. You can make your own nectar by boiling one cup of water, removing it from the heat, and dissolving one cup of sugar into it. Then stir in three cups of cold water. Do not boil the sugar or add red dye; do not use honey or artificial sweeteners. The one-cup of sugar to four cups of water ratio should be used.
Hang your feeder in the shade to extend the life of the nectar. If ants are a problem, Vaseline on the wire hanging the feeder will deter them.
Feeders should be washed and nectar replaced weekly when temperatures are cooler, increasing as temperatures rise. Use very hot water and scrub all surfaces well to remove any mold or bacteria. If the nectar becomes cloudy, replace it immediately.
Thebirdhousechick.com offers this guide:
Below 71 – 7 days
71-75 – 6 days
76-80 – 5 days
81-84 – 4 days
85-88 – 3 days
89-92 – 2 days
Above 92 – Daily
Late summer and early fall is the most successful time to feed hummingbirds, with most hummingbirds migrating south by October 10. Then you can clean your feeders one last time for the year and store them for the following spring.


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