The acrobatic antics of hummingbirds can entertain you for hours. While the tiny birds hover at the feeders, their aggressive defense of their food source leads them to buzz and dive-bomb not only other hummingbirds, but their human admirers, too. While you should hang your hummingbird feeder where you can enjoy the feisty birds, the hummers will discover the feeder faster if you hang it near existing food sources and then move it to its final location.
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How to Hang the Feeder
Most feeders have a hook on the top of the unit, allowing you to hang the feeder from an eye-screw on the eaves, a tree branch, or a chain looped onto a shepherd's hook plant holder. You may prefer to install the feeder in front of a window, where you can watch the hummers sipping the nectar.
Predrill a guide hole into the side of a two-by-four rafter or inside the fascia of the eaves or porch overhang.
Wear gloves and safety glasses when using an electric drill to predrill holes. If you are working on a ladder, recruit a helper to hold the ladder and hand you the tools as needed.
Screw an eye-screw into the guide hole, using a screwdriver inserted into the "eye" to help you turn the screw.
If necessary, use an S-hook to attach a chain to the eye-screw to lower the feeder to a level where it is easy to reach for cleaning and refilling.
Sun or Shade
Hummingbirds aren't picky about whether the feeder is in sun or shade. Feeders hung in the sun attract hummingbirds quickly, but the nectar tends to spoil faster. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology recommends placing a hummingbird feeder in a wind-sheltered, shaded spot. Dappled shade allows you to see the birds as they flit to and from the feeder, while slowing the growth of bacteria in the nectar. The shading trees and shrubs also provide perches for the hummingbirds to rest and hiding places for less dominant hummers.
Whether flowers are low-growing ground covers or tall shrubs, hummingbirds flock to the blossoms. A feeder's height is not important to the hummingbird unless there is a cat or other predator nearby. By placing the feeder approximately 6 feet above the ground, you will be able to reach the unit to change the nectar, while preventing marauding cats from snatching a hummer as it hovers at the feeder.
More Than One Feeder
Hummingbirds are highly territorial. To prevent one bird from dominating a single feeder, install several smaller feeders in the garden or around the perimeter of the house.
As long as the base or some part of the hummingbird feeder is red, the birds will flock to its sweet nectar. For easy cleaning, a feeder with a wider opening at the base allows you to scrub the inside of the feeder with a baby bottle brush.
Change the sugar solution in the feeder every three to four days. Rinse the feeder with hot water before refilling it.
Clean the feeder at least once a month. Disassemble the entire feeder and scrub it with a bottle brush and a drop or two of dishwashing liquid. If you see mold in the feeder, soak it in a solution of 1/4 cup of bleach and 1 gallon of water for one hour. Scrub and rinse the feeder thoroughly before refilling and rehanging it.