Do you feed hummingbirds in your garden? These beautiful, gentle little birds are fun to watch as they zig and zag around the nectar feeder. They hover over the openings, wings beating so quickly they’re a blur. According to the Smithsonian Institution website, a hummingbird’s wings beat 70 times per minute, and its heart rate is an astonishing 1,200 beats per minute when it’s flying quickly.
Is it any wonder that these tiny birds need to drink almost pure sugar to survive? In the wild, hummingbirds are constantly on the move, seeking nectar-rich flowers. Red flowers and those with long, tubular shapes attack these little birds. In the home garden, you can attract hummingbirds by hanging your very own hummingbird feeder. Keeping it clean and abundantly supplied with a sugar solution ensures that hummingbirds will not only visit it this year, but return again next year, for these little creatures have astonishing memories when it comes to finding food. They can remember patches of flowers or a favorite feeder, and they’ll return to the same spot year after year looking for food.
Commercial Hummingbird Feeders
You can purchase commercial hummingbird feeders at home and garden supply stores. Most have a clear or red-colored tank to supply sugar solution to the birds, a perching platform and feeding nozzles. Although tanks can be fanciful or simple, most of the feeding nozzles mimic the tubular shaped flowers or at least mimic the shape of a flower at attract hummingbirds.
It doesn’t much matter to hummingbirds what their feeders look like so long as they are clean. It’s critical to keep your hummingbird feeder clean. Dirty feeders breed bacteria, which in turn can sicken hummingbirds. Change the sugar solution weekly, and clean the entire feeder, scrubbing it with soap and water and rising it clean to prevent infections among hummingbirds.
Make a Hummingbird Wine Bottle Feeder
You can make your own hummingbird feeder from a wine bottle or an empty glass craft bottle. All you need is an empty bottle and a few craft items from your local home and garden or craft store. Most of these items may be purchased from home, garden or plumbing supply stores. Feeding nozzles may be purchased at craft stores or online.
To make a hummingbird wine bottle feeder, you’ll need:
- An empty wine bottle or glass bottle from a craft store
- 1/4 inch copper wire
- Feeding nozzles with stopper
- Glass paint (optional)
- Paint scrape or scouring pad (to remove labels from wine bottle)
- Wire cutters
Clean the wine bottle by soaking it in a pail of water and bleach solution. Use one part bleach to nine parts water. Let the bottle soak overnight. The water solution will also help loosen the label. Use the paint scraper or scouring pad to scrub off the labels from the wine bottle and any remaining glue. Rinse the bottle inside and out in cool, clean water to remove all traces of the bleach solution. Set it aside and let it dry.
Once the bottle is dry, you can decorate it with the glass paint. You can paint designs, flowers or anything you like on the sides of the bottle. Follow the directions on the glass paint containers to set the paint. Decorating your wine bottle is optional, but for clear or green bottles, you may want to paint some large, bright flower designs using red and orange colors to attract those hummingbirds over.
Once the paint is dry, it’s time to make a holder for the bottle so you can hang it from a tree. Bend the wire around the neck of the bottle, making a spiral of wire around the bottle until you get to the top. Then make a cage or bracket of wire and loop to suspend the bottle from a tree limb. You may need to bend and twist the wire to keep it steady around the wine bottle. A dab of glue can also help.
Your wine bottle hummingbird feeder is done. Fill it with water for a test run, and inset the stopper and feeding tube. Sometimes the stoppers leak a lot when you first use them, which is why it’s a good idea to try a test run before filling the feeder with nectar or hummingbird food. If the bottle does leak a lot when you suspend it, you may need to work with your copper wire to tilt the bottle up at a 45-degree angle so that the feeding tube points up. This should prevent the bird feeder from leaking, but the hummingbirds won’t have a problem sipping nectar.
When you’re sure it’s not leaking, fill your hummingbird feeder with food and hang it where you can watch the birds at play.
What if you don’t drink wine? Ask local restaurants for their discarded bottles! Most will be happy to save a few. You can also purchase bottles at craft stores.
Make Your Own Hummingbird Food
You can purchase hummingbird food at the garden center as a liquid or powdered concentrate. Mix it with water according to the package directions. You can also mix your own hummingbird food.
To make your own hummingbird food, fill a large pot with four cups of water and one cup of sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool completely before filling hummingbird feeders. Store unused portions in the refrigerator.