Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Monday, July 25, 2016

More Than A Hummingbird Feeder

During the hot, sultry days of summer, when most of us are melting from the heat, the ruby-throated hummingbirds are full of energy, racing around as if it were the Indy 500. I often hear them screech to a halt and reverse course, chasing one another wildly from one end of the garden to the other. The hummers stop to refuel at many of the plants that have been included in our garden design specifically for them. However, we also hang several feeders so we can enjoy watching them from various vantage points around the garden.


The tray style feeders are a favorite with the hummers plus they are easy to clean, which is a bonus. The baby hummers have fledged their nests by this time, so the numbers in our garden have increased over the past few weeks. The young hummers are infrequent visitors to the feeders as the males expend extraordinary energy defending their nectar sources. They are greedy gents not willing to sharing with fellow hummers. Placing multiple feeders out of sight of one another gives the females and juveniles a better chance of getting to the feeders.


These feeders are not only used by hummingbirds. Several species of small songbirds such as chickadees, goldfinches, warblers, and house finches are known to appreciate a sweet sip. Some even use the ant moat as their personal water hole.


Carolina chickadee drinking from hummingbird feeder

Several species of butterflies also appreciate the convenience of these feeders. I mostly observe butterflies here, who are not traditional nectar feeders, like the red spotted purple butterfly, who prefers sap, rotting fruit, and carrion (to each their own!). 

Red-spotted purple butterfly

cloudless sulphur butterfly
Take a look at your hummingbird feeders. Are they doing double duty too? You may be surprised to discover a multiplicity of visitors.

10 comments:

  1. I even found small downy woodpeckers getting a sweet treat from them too! Amazing how curious and ingenious birds and pollinators can be.

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    1. Very cool Donna! I do so enjoy watching their behavior. They always have something new to show us.

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  2. Awww, sweet! I've been cleaning the feeders much more often during this heat spell, to make sure the nectar is fresh. I don't think any of our fledglings are flying yet, but the mums (and a few males) are certainly busy at the feeders. You captured some amazing photos, Karin. :)

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    1. Keeping feeders fresh is definitely important. I'm changing mine out every other day since the heat makes the nectar rancid quickly. I only fill them part of the way since I am changing it so frequently. Look forward to seeing your fledglings soon!

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  3. I didn't know butterflies and other birds visit hummingbird feeders! Now I'm tempted. A hummer was checking out the red hoop on my g'daughter's little basketball set - it must look like a feeder.

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    1. Hummers do like the color red and are curious creatures. I've had them get stuck in the garage because they are attracted to the red handle on the door opener. The handles are now covered in black tape so that won't happen again. I hope you will put up a feeder and enjoy watching all the birds/insects that visit them.

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  4. Some wonderful tips on placing feeders - I didn't realize that male hummingbirds could be so territorial. I only have one feeder but will definitely invest in more...and easy to clean tray feeders sound good (mine is in inverted bottle, not-so-easy-to-clean type). And LOVE the chickadee photo - how absolutely adorable!!

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    1. The bottle style can be a real pain to keep clean. I have several as well and I much prefer the tray feeders. When you get more feeders be sure to place them out of sight from the other feeders. The males won't see them and therefore won't be as likely to rush off and chase the other hummers off the feeder.

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  5. I have a few feeders which I really must fill. I have seen one maybe two hummingbirds this summer and that is it. It is always such a thrill to spot one in the garden, so it's rather disappointing. I can't remember a summer with worse drought. I see fewer insects, less bees and mosquitoes are nonexistent (which is the one blessing).

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    1. We've been struggling through this summer too Jennifer. We haven't had any significant rain for weeks. It's beginning to look like fall with leaves dropping under the stress. I agree, there are fewer insects. My butterfly numbers are definitely lower.

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