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What animal drinks hummingbird nectar?

Mechanicsville, MD

I am having a problem with a hummingbird nectar thief. I put the nectar out in the feeder and it was full but overnight it was emptied. Another member recommended this forum for some answers. What could be drinking the hummers nectar?... and is there anything I can do to fix it. The member had suggested bats.

Marlton, NJ

Hi wis, Other birds, squirrels, bats maybe even raccoons.

If it is bats I'm not sure what you could do about it.

If it's something else you could hang it from a baffled pole. Here are instructions for a baffle but you would have to put a "T" pipe on the top.

Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

... cat, small child, ... Depending on the configuration of your feeder, it could even be something spilling it in an effort to drink it. (I wasn't clear from your note if this was a one-time incident, or every night.)

I've read that those bee guards work against bats, too, I guess cause their tongue isn't long enough. You could take it in at night, if you can get it back up pretty early in the morning. Seems like if it's bats, you should be able to catch them at it before bedtime, since they're pretty much out and about starting at dusk.

Keep us posted...

Mechanicsville, MD

No this started happening at the end of last summer. It only happens at night. I will replace the food in the evening or earlier in the day if need be. I can see it from my kitchen window because it hangs off a hook on a tree relatively close to the house, so I have an idea about how much food is left in the feeder before nightfall. I haven't seen any bats approach it around dusk. I will get up in the morning and the food is completely gone. I had it out for a couple of days before this incedent. I didn't see any hummingbirds approach the feeder or any of the flowers I have in the yard for them. The nectar stayed at the same level for a couple of days and then gone. Someone from another forum gave me info on bats but it seemed like nectar feeding bats were in the southwest and Mexico according to the article.

I replaced the nectar this evening and moved it onto a pole on the deck. I just looked out and it is still at the same level. I'll let you know if it changed in the morning.

Hendersonville, NC(Zone 7a)

Raccoons love hummingbird nectar, and often (though not exclusively) feed at night. Bats love it, too, but I'm not aware of nectar-feeding bats in MD. You may need to take the feeder down at night if the problem continues; chasing raccoons from a favored feeding site is very difficult if not impossible.


Essex Junction, VT(Zone 4a)

I'd also vote for raccoons. Depending on your set up, you can also try a baffle to prevent them from getting to the feeder so you don't have to bring it in at night.

Mechanicsville, MD

The nectar is still there. I can't imagine raccoons would have a problem coming up onto the deck. Maybe they looked and couldn't find it.

Maricopa, AZ(Zone 9b)

Various suggestions about uninvited guests at hummingbird feederes ;

Mechanicsville, MD

Thanks for the link. It sounds like I have bats or raccoons drinking the nectar. I guess I can set up a night cam to catch the culprit or just accept it and feed them and the hummingbirds. If it is raccoons I would rather bring the feeder in at night. Bats don't bother me as much. I live in a neighborhood with wooded lots so we are bound to have both raccoons and bats. Although I have never seen any raccoons and our trash cans have never been disturbed. I had someone from a backyard bird garden store reccommend putting tabasco on the outside of the feeder. Wouldn't this hurt the hummingbird too?

Maricopa, AZ(Zone 9b)

I notice that you are from Maryland where I was from MANY years ago . I am not aware of any nectar feeding bats back there , there may be some but I am not aware of any . Nectar feeding bats proliferate where there are a lot of night blooming plants which here in the desert southwest there is . Some homework on your part should establish as to whether there are any in your local area . Try ;

or here is a field guide to Maryland bats ;

Nectar feeding bats at hummingbird feeders here in Arizona is common ;

Mechanicsville, MD

I read articles about the nectar feeding bats in the southwest. I will check with DNR about bats in this area. The nectar disappeared again last night.

NE Medina Co., TX(Zone 8a)

The raccoons here will not only spill and consume the nectar, but they are capable of tearing apart a hummer feeder or knocking it down and carrying it off! Anyone know about a raccoon-proof feeder?

Marlton, NJ

Only to put it on a pole with a raccoon proof baffle.

Putnam County, IN(Zone 5b)

I have big raccoon issues here...for some reason they have never bothered the Hummzinger Ultra on a shepherd hook..but it is a no spill type. So maybe they tried but nothing came out. I had other kinds on hooks and they emptied them pronto. Tore up the 3 in 1 type Oriole Feeder I left out last year. So stopped putting them out. I have one I hang on the front porch post. I have to bring this one in every night. I have forgotten sometimes and they climb up the post and empty it.

You are probably on their regular route for food, but they may not come every night.

NE Medina Co., TX(Zone 8a)

This year it's not so bad, because so far there isn't a family of coons living on the property. So I may try a hummer feeder or two. They do come by (on their "route", as you say) at night sometimes. In the past I've tried to compensate by having a lot of hummer-friendly plants.

Mechanicsville, MD

I have had it out a couple of nights this week and each night it is out the nectar is gone in the morning. I haven't seen any hummers drinking from it during the day but I did see one feeding on the pestemon. (jingle bells and huskers red)

Hendersonville, NC(Zone 7a)

Yes, the hummers here also love penstemon. Still think your guests are raccoons; aside from the absence, to my knowledge, of nectar-feeding bats in MD, the quantity involved in draining a feeder in one night sounds more like hungry raccoons. But careful raccoons; they aren't carrying off or trashing the feeder, and that's nice....

Mechanicsville, MD

The feeder is always in good shape, in fact it doesn't look like anything bothered it outside of an absence of nectar. According to DNR all the species of bats in Maryland are insect feeders. I guess we have narrowed it down to raccoons. Maybe these raccoons have more manners than others LOL!!!! I took it down and am going to look into making a baffle. I have plenty of plants for the hummers but it is nice to see them go to the feeder too.

Chippewa Lake, OH

I have observed a squirrel hanging upside down to drink from my oriole feeder, but he has never damaged it.

Westerly, RI

could it be ants?????

Dayton, OH

Hello, I got here from google, because I am also baffled about my hummingbird nectar dissappearing overnight!!! Like the inquiry in MD, I cannot figure it out. I am more curious than anything. I live in Ohio, where we do not have any real nectar drinking bats, and both of my feeders look like they have not been disturbed, but when I awake, I have my little humming birds throwing a fit over an empty feeder. Let me know if anyone has been able to figure this out, cause I have never heard of such a thing , hahaha

Hendersonville, NC(Zone 7a)

SKosak, welcome! You're right, no nectar-feeding bats in Ohio, but I'm sure you have lots of raccoons. They can empty a hummingbird feeder without dislodging it - easily. And this time of year, most of the females are raising young and desperate for all the calories they can find. Few of the other nocturnal critters could reach a hanging feeder, or empty it without trashing or dislodging it.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

I share your curiosity about the empty feeders in the morning. I concluded it must be a raccoon, too, although it seems almost impossible to me that a raccoon could shake out the nectar with out causing this feeder to fall off the hook.

Then I thought about 'flying squirrels' which I know we have around here because they have visited our seed feeder on the window by my desk here. I googled to find out if they can drink from a HB feeder but couldn't find much. Does anyone have a clue on this??

Westerly, RI

Well, I was just watching Animal planets funniest animals (on animal planet.) One of the videos showed a raccon hainging on a humming bird feeder drinking the nector!! I never thought this could be possible but I saw it, even tho it was on TV I believe it.

I hope this helps you guys out. If you get any evidance I would love to see it!!!

Franklin Park, PA

I live in PA and have been having the same problem for several months. To my surprise, one morning my husband saw a white-tailed deer bumping the hummingbird feeder with its nose and then licking it. My husband tried to scare it away but had to get within about 3 feet of the deer before it ran away from the feeder.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

To those that hummingbird feeders are empty in the AM: Have you tried setting a trap to see what turns up? We catch 3 to five coons every summer that literally destroys my plants in my window boxes. Our police will haul off the coons in the traps and return the traps.
Also, could you put cornmeal or flower around the feeder and see if there are any tracks?

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Try leaving water out, such as a bucket, deer love a molasses lick- if i remember right, and they might quit bothering the hummer feeder. Coons love 'lasses too- but maybe a few pcs of apple will distract them from the hummers food. Can also try raising the ht of the hummers' feeders...

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