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Hummingbird and Butterfly Gardening: PBS hummer special - Magic in the Air - question

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lilyfantn
Kingsport, TN
(Zone 6b)

August 3, 2010
8:45 AM

Post #8015379

Hello everyone. A few days ago I watched this absolutely wonderful and riveting show on hummingbirds. It is chock full of information with amazing video. But... the lady who made the special said something that really surprised me. While talking about home feeders she casually mentioned the ratio of sugar to water for the feeders should be 1/1. I was very shocked at this as I have always thought 1 part sugar to 4 parts water was the recommended recipe. I would think half and half would be very heavy and syrupy. What do you all put in your feeders?

nanny_56

nanny_56
Putnam County, IN
(Zone 5b)

August 3, 2010
8:50 AM

Post #8015398

I have always used the 1 to 4 ratio with sometimes uping it to 1 to 3 in the fall.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

August 3, 2010
9:04 AM

Post #8015441

I normally use 1 -4 except when they first show up in the spring. I think they have spent so much energy in getting here I make it 1 - 3 for a couple of weeks.

I thought any stronger was not good for them. Wonder why she gets away with putting that in a show. And on PBS!! Don't they check anything?

One tip I want to give you, last week I had one in the house and my ceiling is a peak at 28 feet and of course that is where the bird stayed. In the windows all the way up. Finally I thought it had died. The next morning all of a sudden I saw it up there sitting on a beam.

I went out and got one of the feeders and brought it in. The bird flew right down to it so I walked outside with the bird on the feeder. Probably wouldn't necessarily work until they were really hungry tho. Don't know.
pelletory
Marlton, NJ

August 3, 2010
11:00 AM

Post #8015689

Strongest I've heard from hummingbird experts is 1 - 3. I wouldn't go any stronger than that myself.
tabasco
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

August 3, 2010
11:03 AM

Post #8015700

Boy, that's quite a bit off from the common recipe.

I use about 1 to 3 or 4 concentration (I don't always measure accurately).

I have read recently that some hummingbird nectar flowers produce nectar at higher concentrations than 1-4, so juicing up your feeder ratio to 1-3 or even a little more through out the summer isn't unheard of . Which is what I am doing since I read the article. Don't know if it makes a difference really.

I have never heard of 1 to 1 though. Sounds intense.

I also read on one of the hummingbird expert sites (maybe Cornell) that using the nectar with red food coloring isn't all that bad, it's just unnecessary. (Making your own sugar water is cheaper and easier). I guess the big negative on the red colored liquid started when the old style red dye was found to be a carcinogin but now all that is history and not relevant.
lilyfantn
Kingsport, TN
(Zone 6b)

August 3, 2010
12:05 PM

Post #8015826

Thanks for all the responses. I feel reassured that I hadn't missed out on any new thoughts about hummer feeding. I would be curious to know if anyone else caught that if they watched the show. Her comments weren't in the movie she made, but she was there in person making comments during the fund raising breaks that PBS has during those twice a year fund raisers. I wonder if I just missheard her.

nanny_56

nanny_56
Putnam County, IN
(Zone 5b)

August 3, 2010
5:17 PM

Post #8016560

Maybe she was nervous and/or mis-stated what she meant.
SusanLouise
Lincoln, NE
(Zone 5b)

August 3, 2010
7:00 PM

Post #8016803

I always use 1 to 3...
Ed8r
Salinas, CA

August 6, 2010
11:16 AM

Post #8022919

No, you didn't mis-hear her. My mom called me last night specifically to tell me that she had heard a PBS show recommend a 1:1 ratio.

After all these years of being told that flowers produce a 21% to 23% ratio - thereby validating the 1:4 proportion, it was extremely disconcerting to hear this strong solution recommended. I expected to find many posts through Google, but yours was almost the only one to question it.

I would like to know more before I try something that concentrated!

This message was edited Aug 8, 2010 12:48 PM

This message was edited Aug 8, 2010 12:49 PM
tabasco
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

August 6, 2010
7:15 PM

Post #8023925

http://www.coneflowerproductions.com/about.html

If you were really really curious you could contact the film maker Ann Prun thru her website (above)...

If you do, I'd love to know what she says (but I'm too shy to contact her myself!). t.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

August 6, 2010
7:50 PM

Post #8024010

I wrote. We'll see if I get a response. For some reason I kept getting cut off but think I finally got one to take.
pelletory
Marlton, NJ

August 7, 2010
2:36 AM

Post #8024327

Something to keep in mind here is that Ann Prum is a producer and cinematographer not a hummingbird expert.

There are some higher nectar flowers than have been stated but nothing that would justify a 1-1 ratio.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

August 7, 2010
3:08 PM

Post #8025428

Well, no matter what she is, it might behoove her to check the facts and do a correction of needed.
Ed8r
Salinas, CA

August 8, 2010
12:46 PM

Post #8026952

Well, I would have written if you didn't. In fact, if you don't hear anything soon-ish, I might write too.

I'll be curious to know what she has to to say!

Sheila_FW

Sheila_FW
Fort Worth, TX
(Zone 8a)

August 8, 2010
1:58 PM

Post #8027080

OOops! maybe?
lilyfantn
Kingsport, TN
(Zone 6b)

August 9, 2010
4:49 AM

Post #8028271

Thanks for sending an e-mail Jnette. I am hoping you get an answer and will be watching to see what they say.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

August 12, 2010
8:51 AM

Post #8035456

Well, it is going on a week and nothing yet. I suppose she would have to find the place on the program where the lady said it and then get hold of her to verify. And that isn't always easy either.

Guess we should give her a few more days???

pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

August 12, 2010
3:56 PM

Post #8036155

I borrowed it from the Library and watched it recently, too. I didn't catch that part - I would assume it is a mistake.
lilyfantn
Kingsport, TN
(Zone 6b)

August 13, 2010
6:30 AM

Post #8037204

It wasn't part of the documentary - it was something the person who make the film said on the PBS special while being interviewed during pledge request time.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

August 13, 2010
8:54 AM

Post #8037483

Oh, I didn't get it right then. She might be looking in the wrong place for it. I thought it was part of the doc. Funny she hasn't sent something tho.

Why don't you write Ed8r and clarify it? Thanks.
Ed8r
Salinas, CA

August 21, 2010
5:27 PM

Post #8054247

YIKES!

Sorry, I guess I didn't subscribe to the thread properly and I just now returned and saw the latest.

Yes, I wrote immediately, and I mentioned that it was during an interview while the show was being broadcast, is that right?

This message was edited Aug 21, 2010 5:36 PM

This message was edited Aug 21, 2010 5:37 PM
sunshine_2
Granite City, IL

August 22, 2010
7:09 AM

Post #8055098

I've been using 4 cups sugar to 8 cups of water, they seem to love it,
Ed8r
Salinas, CA

August 23, 2010
6:28 AM

Post #8056784

Ann wrote back to me right away. Here is what she said:

Quoting:"I use half and half or 2:1.
That is the info I had from various folks who feed a lot of hummingbirds.
But, I have heard different ratios as well.
Obviously it is not an exact science!"


I wasn't positive that what she meant was a range of sugar ratio, and she confirmed that she uses (for example) from 1/2 up to one cup sugar for 1 cup water.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

August 23, 2010
10:02 AM

Post #8057255

Ok, what Ann said and Sunshine 2 said are the same thing. I don't know, I just don't think that is healthy for the birds. I am sure they love it. That doesn't mean it is good for them.

I don't know. I am not an expert on birds.
pelletory
Marlton, NJ

August 23, 2010
11:22 AM

Post #8057419

I agree 100%. I do not know of a single well known hummingbird expert that would recommend this strong of a solution.

There are not any plants that carry that strong a nectar.

I really hope that most people will not go any higher than a 1/3 solution.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

August 23, 2010
5:57 PM

Post #8058122

I use 1/3 first thing in the spring when the birds first show up after their long flight. I use it for about a week, maybe 2 depending on how many more birds show up. Then I switch to 1/4 for the rest of the summer.

TexasPuddyPrint

TexasPuddyPrint
Edinburg, TX

August 23, 2010
6:38 PM

Post #8058202

I also use a 1:4 ratio and up it to 1:3 during the drought season and winter time.

~ Cat

ps...yes, we do get them all year long here :o)

This message was edited Aug 24, 2010 2:54 PM
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

August 23, 2010
10:49 PM

Post #8058669

Oh, I have heard you guys have them year 'round down there. That is cool but don't know if I could afford them for that long. I had so many here for a while this year I was going thru 5# of sugar a week.
Ed8r
Salinas, CA

August 24, 2010
8:40 AM

Post #8059252

I think I may have thought of the rationale behind Ann Prum's nectar recipe.

What if the hummingbirds in tropical areas . . . especially in the Andes where the elevation increases their energy output . . . need a higher proportion of sugar to water? Maybe the flowers there naturally produce a nectar with a higher proportion of sugar as well.

I've emailed a couple of the wildlife refuges listed in the production credits of Magic in the Air. I'll let you all know what their answer is.
Ed8r
Salinas, CA

August 24, 2010
2:34 PM

Post #8059949

Well, interestingly enough, the two reserves I contacted (one in Peru, the other Ecuador) confirmed that they use a 1:4 or even slightly less concentrated ratio.

I suppose I could go on and contact every source involved in the film, but for now, I think this is confirmation that the "experts" do not suggest 1:1 or even 1:2.

Frankly, this leaves me really curious about who Ann Prum would identify as her sources. But I'm not sure I have the temerity to ask.
Ed8r
Salinas, CA

August 25, 2010
10:59 AM

Post #8061455

I'm not OCD . . . oh, no, not a bit! ;)

Another production credit listed for the film was Doug Altshuler, who researches hummingbird flight at the University of California, Riverside. I contacted him and he said his lab uses a 1:3 ratio.

A production credit was included for researchers at UC Berkeley, who fly hummers in a large wind tunnel in order to examine their forward flight maneuvers. They use approximately a 1:4 ratio for their nectar.

And finally, a production credit was also listed for a flight lab at the University of Portland (Oregon). A contact there assured me that he could not have been one of Ann's "various folks" and cited the usual ratio of 1:4.

That's all folks! I don't know who was advising Ann Prum, but it wasn't one of the professionals.

I'm going to keep my nectar at a casually measured 1:4 up to 1:3 at the most.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

August 25, 2010
5:29 PM

Post #8062024

Same here. Thanks Ed8r.
lilyfantn
Kingsport, TN
(Zone 6b)

August 26, 2010
1:05 PM

Post #8063564

Thank you so much Ed8r for pursuing this. I just checked back in after a bit of an absence and am astounded at all the great info you have collected. You aren't by any chance a reporter for the Times? ...lol You have great researching skills.

It is a bit unfortunate that Ann made this statement during such a widely televised show.
Ed8r
Salinas, CA

August 28, 2010
12:12 PM

Post #8067216

Yes, lilyfantn, it is. Although if people were really concerned, I'm surprised she hasn't heard more about it.

Interestingly for me, a friend who feeds hummingbirds tells me that she knows at least one other person who uses half and half. I would have thought that that ratio would be too thick, but I guess not.
sunshine_2
Granite City, IL

August 31, 2010
5:33 PM

Post #8073474

It's not thick, and I have about 15 to 20 birds in my yard at a time, as does my next door neighbor.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

September 1, 2010
8:50 AM

Post #8074505

Of course they love it. All that sugar? I would love it too but probably would end up with diabetes or worse.

pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

September 1, 2010
10:15 AM

Post #8074654

I changed my solution to 3:1 last fall for a feeder that tended to freeze over-night. I wasn't happy about it because of health concerns for the little birds. I decided to take that feeder down and just use feeders that I could mount on or close to the windows of the house. Heat loss from the house kept the feeders from freezing. This fall, I may rig perches near windows so the birds themselves have a warmer place for the night.

I have a feeder with larger holes that I put 6:1 for orioles and finches. The hummingbirds don't use it - I don't know if it is the weaker solution or the larger holes or both.
Ed8r
Salinas, CA

September 2, 2010
6:58 AM

Post #8076171

@sunshine_2:

I wasn't thinking that your 2:1 solution was too thick. But I did think that a half and half ratio would be.

This message was edited Sep 2, 2010 3:00 PM
BoopsieTN
McMinnville, TN

September 11, 2010
6:52 AM

Post #8092692

I'm glad everyone is feeding the hummingbirds, I always put out 5 feeders in the same place every year. I have never measured my sugar that I put in my 4 cups of hot water that I heat in the microwave, I just put in alot and they love it so I guess I'm doing ok without measuring the sugar. I don't put any red food coloring in my water at all, somewhere along the line I heard it could cause birth defects in baby hummers. I don't fill my feeders full 'cause ants try their best to get all they can. I have learned that if I put vaseline on the hanger it really helps keep the aints away. I have a 2 acre yard and they seem to love anything that blooms and they don't mind if you are in their way, when I'm gathering seeds they just fly around me sometimes almost close enough to touch if your fast enough. I've tried to count them but they are just too fast and will sit in the trees and make their noise. If a feeder is almost emply and I can't see water I bring it in, wash it, put fresh water in it and as soon as I hang it up here they come-its like they are waiting for it.
I love 'em, my kitchen and bathroom both are decorated with hummingbird pictures, figures and windchimes.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

September 11, 2010
3:31 PM

Post #8093386

Wanted to tell you all that PBS is airing the show again tomorrow. Didn't catch the time.

Magic in the Air.

Boopsie, they don't always eat what is good for them. LOL, just like humans they will eat what tastes good to them.
BoopsieTN
McMinnville, TN

September 11, 2010
4:26 PM

Post #8093458

Jnette, you are so right about our eating habits! I've been at my daddys all day (his cancer is in remission but I have him petted to death-big mistake) when I got home my feeders were empty so they must have really been busy and probably invited friends.
I would love to see this program tomorrow but we have home coming at church, all day singing and eating, we will half to leave at 1:15 (unless my husband can get someone to swap days off with him) since he has to be at work at 3:00 in the next town. I don't have time to watch tv during the day and we don't have any kind of program guide to go by except the daily shows on each channel.
I am having a ball on DG site, I need to be outside gathering flower seeds-but its been raining so that is a good excuse to be inside.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

September 11, 2010
4:41 PM

Post #8093491

Boopsie, The show might be in the evening. I will take a look at the schedule tomorrow and let you know the time.

Glad to hear of your dad's remission. Good luck!!
Ed8r
Salinas, CA

September 12, 2010
8:55 AM

Post #8094555

I'd love to have that many hummers, but either because of migration or just the availability of blossoms in my area (Central Coast CA), I never get hummers to my upstairs apt patio until at least June and then they only stay through December.

This year they didn't start coming until late July, so I hope they'll stay longer too.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

September 12, 2010
10:03 AM

Post #8094654

They show up to my place in late April and are gone by Labor Day. So, I would say June thru Dec. is pretty good. However, you are right about being late this year. It was so cold. at least here on the West Coast, that everything was late and the hummers were the same.
BoopsieTN
McMinnville, TN

September 12, 2010
5:34 PM

Post #8095454

Hey Ya'll-you can do a search on Hummingbirds Magic in the Air and you will be able to watch a 1 hr. video on line maybe it is the 1 that was on tv.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

September 12, 2010
6:09 PM

Post #8095524

I saw them advertise showing it tonight on PBS. One of those and I did not get the time, but it was tonight.

Mrs_Ed

Mrs_Ed
Whiteside County, IL
(Zone 5a)

September 12, 2010
6:31 PM

Post #8095572

the problem with the PBS schedule is that it can be different in every viewing market.

As boopsie said, it is indeed online as well as the behind the scenes stuff.

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/hummingbirds-magic-in-the-air/introduction/5424/
Crit
Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK
(Zone 7a)

September 18, 2010
7:28 PM

Post #8106752

When I make my 'nectar', I put 2 cups sugar into an 8 cup mixing pitcher and fill it up with water. I have 9 4 cup feeders out, and don't think I could 'afford' to make the mixture any stronger. :-)) I had 4, but each of them seemed to have a bully, so I bought some more and now the bullies have their feeder, and the more docile ones have thiers. This is a picture of 6 on the feeder *I think there were 2 more on the backside* and 3 in the air. The don't seem to mind the 4:1 mixture. I must have 50 hummers in my yard.

Thumbnail by Crit
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

September 18, 2010
10:03 PM

Post #8106938

Those are the best feeders. I got 2 of them this year and they were the cheapest and the best. They each hold 4 cups. My birds were going thru them every other day. I had 2 other feeders up that they didn't like as well. However, location makes a difference too.

The bully in my yard went from feeder to feeder chasing the others away and then would perch in between them. Along about July the bully was teasing the cat and the cat got him. I sure was sorry to see that. I really felt bad. Even tho he was a bully I missed him. He was a beautiful gold color all over.
BoopsieTN
McMinnville, TN

September 19, 2010
3:54 AM

Post #8107027

I'm gonna tell everybody to get my hummingbird feeders for Christmas (maybe they will be able to find them). I still have 1 left up in case a few of them are still hanging around but I haven't seen any in several days, I will still leave it a few days, it is a nice 1 that I got for Christmas 1 year.
My husband got me a book on hummingbirds the last time he went on a hunting trip to Land Between the Lakes, I have flipped through it and hope that when I am old and sitting in my rocking chair I'll be able to finally find time to read all of it.

Mrs_Ed

Mrs_Ed
Whiteside County, IL
(Zone 5a)

September 19, 2010
7:06 AM

Post #8107199

holy moly! 50 birds. JEALOUS!

Boopsie, I suggest you tell everyone about your Christmas request now so that they can go buy the feeders. Nothing like getting some shopping done early!
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

September 19, 2010
11:25 AM

Post #8107666

Also, it gives them time to look. Not just grab one off the shelf 'cause it is the last gift on their list and easy. Or the last feeder out there. That time of year there are other things people are thinking about.

Mrs. Ed is right. There is still a good selection on the shelves which won't be at Christmas time.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

September 19, 2010
11:26 AM

Post #8107676

LOL, wish you were on my Christmas list. You would be easy.

Mrs_Ed

Mrs_Ed
Whiteside County, IL
(Zone 5a)

September 19, 2010
11:47 AM

Post #8107742

When I was a kid, my grandmother always have a few gifts wrapped for people who might show up. I think Hummingbird feeders would be good for that. Especially these First Nature that are cheap. Even if people aren't into feeding, this might get them to start!
Crit
Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK
(Zone 7a)

September 19, 2010
4:14 PM

Post #8108220

Boopsie,
I am surprised you haven't been seeing them. I'm not a hummingbird expert, but it seems quite early for your birds to be disappearing.
I still have tons of them. I just love setting outside and watching them flock to the feeders.
My DH said he would like to get some "pretty" ones. I saw some that were not expensive and plastic online, but they didn't hold very much. I said that would be nice, but we just got all these. I do however, think the idea of having them available for drop-in's or that 'hard to buy for person' is a great idea. May have to do that myself.

pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

September 20, 2010
6:22 PM

Post #8110757

I haven't had as many Hummingbirds this year as usual, especially Broad-tailed. I have had mainly Black-chinned, and only 1-2 per day. The weather has been unusually hot and dry this past month, maybe they have been staying at higher altitudes. Or maybe its just my yard - there seemed to be a lot hanging around the Ranger station at the reservoir earlier this summer - it is only 2-3 miles away.
BoopsieTN
McMinnville, TN

September 20, 2010
6:28 PM

Post #8110768

Crit, its a good thang I left out 1 feeder; this morning about 7:30 (our company was leaving to go back to VA) I saw 1 and I had not seen any in several days. I know the cool nights here are telling them to go home.
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

September 20, 2010
11:03 PM

Post #8111273

That is true Boopsie, however, they need to get juice along the way for strength. Please as long as you have a bird come once in a while, keep it out.

Mrs_Ed

Mrs_Ed
Whiteside County, IL
(Zone 5a)

September 21, 2010
9:09 AM

Post #8111867

It's recommended up here to keep them out to thanksgiving in case of a different species coming through.

Mine are usually around until the first week of October, so yes, down in Tennessee, please leave them up.

pollengarden

pollengarden
Pueblo, CO
(Zone 5b)

September 24, 2010
3:05 PM

Post #8119012

I was asking around - and everyone seems to think the Hummingbirds migrated early this year from this area. I am probably going to be taking my feeders down - I haven't seen any Hummingbirds this past week. Last year at this time I had 5-6, and 2 stayed into October.
Ed8r
Salinas, CA

September 27, 2010
7:13 PM

Post #8124971

I've been surprised by an INCREASE in hummingbirds to my one lone feeder. Apparently, there is a migration going through, because for months previous, I have had only one bird (that I could tell).

I only needed to make 1 cup of nectar and it lasted two weeks and I'd have to throw away some and put out fresh. Right now I'm going through 2 cups every 3-4 days, which may not sound like much to some of you, but in comparison, it's quite a dramatic change!
Jnette
Northeast, WA
(Zone 5a)

September 27, 2010
7:22 PM

Post #8124993

That really is. You better keep your feed going quite a while. Good for you.

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