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The Ultimate Hummingbird Feeder
Photo of an Allen's Hummingbird by Dr. Bruce Odou
I asked Bob Pogue and Dave Brandt from Wild Birds Unlimited in Mission Viejo to give me information on what to look for when buying a hummingbird feeder and how to properly maintain it. Here is their information:
Many customers ask us if we carry a hummingbird feeder at Wild Birds Unlimited that is easy to use. They have difficulties using hummingbird feeders because the feeders they usually buy are so difficult to fill and clean. We have an easy answer for them — use a "pan style" feeder. This is a non-gravity fed feeder with a bottom pan that holds the nectar. This style feeder is easy to clean and it does not drip.

Features of the "Pan-Style" feeder:

Easy to fill (the top pops right off)
Easy to clean (when the top is removed, the entire bottom is easily accessed)
It has perches so the bird can perch while feeding (using less energy as they feed)
It is bright red and consequently attracts the birds faster & more often
It has 6 ports which creates an interesting draw for the hummers since they think each port is a different "flower" and therefore go from one port to another.
It is durable. (Though it is considered to be top shelf dishwasher safe, we do not recommend it. Instead we suggest that you use an enzyme to clean the feeder; this is much safer for the birds.)
It is part of a "mold" which means that no small parts will break off, get lost, or need to be replaced. The feeder top is one piece and the bottom is one piece.
The feeder has a lifetime guarantee from Wild Birds Unlimited. If it breaks due to any manufacturer defects, just bring it back to our st ore and we will replace the defective parts or replace the feeder.

Wild Birds Unlimited sells more"pan-style" feeders than all of the other feeders they carry combined.
Tips on Nectar:

We recommend Best 1 Hummingbird nectar. It is CLEAR. do not use nectar containing red coloring; research shows that the red food coloring has caused birth defects in hummingbird babies. Best 1 nectar is not just sugar in a jar. It contains both sucrose and dextrose and is very finely ground up. This nectar mix is so fine that you do not have to boil it. Just use hot tap water and stir it with a metal spoon. Never use a wooden spoon because wood gets food particles embedded in it no matter how hard you try to clean it.

You can store Best 1 Nectar in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. This way, you will not have to mix up more nectar every time you fill your feeder.

We recommend that you clean and refill your hummingbird feeders based on the outside temperature:

60-70 degrees: clean & refill every 4-5 days
70-80 degrees: clean & refill every 3-4 days
80 degrees & hotter: clean & refill every 2 days

Solutions to keep bees from the hummingbird feeders
(provided by Valerie Sinex of the Yorba Linda Wild Birds Unlimited store)

The best bee-proof feeders are pan-style as opposed to the bottles that you tip upside down. With the bottle style, once you turn it over, pressure holds the nectar right at the hole where it's easy for bees to drink.

Other possible solutions to the problem of bees at the feeders:

• Use a more dilute sugar water mixture in the hummingbird feeders (5 parts water to 1 part sugar)
• Put out a shallow saucer of more concentrated sugar water just for bees (like a plant saucer) with 3:1 sugar water mix) to lure them away frim the hummingbird feeder.
• Put out a shallow saucer of plain water for the bees (small rocks or pebbles in the bottom give them a landing spot)
* Take down the jelly (there's no way to keep bees from mobbing it) and feed your orioles mealworms instead to keep them coming back.


page updated 6/20/16

Sea & Sage Audubon Society
PO Box 5447 • Irvine, CA 92616 • 949-261-7963