Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hummingbird Food

Male Ruby Throat Hummingbird

One of our favorite aspects of living at the lake during the summer is the hummingbird activity.  In our section of the lake, we and our neighbors feed the hummingbirds so there are groups that come and live among us every summer, raising families.  They make tiny nests in the tall red oaks above our decks.

Guarding the feed above
They buzz around like Jetsons, doing amazing up and down maneuvers, at very rapid speeds.  The young males like this one are protective of the food.  He sits below the feeder and will attack anyone trying to eat at the feeder located above on the deck.

Guests frequently ask us what we feed them and how to make hummingbird food, so I thought I'd post how we do it.  There is some controversy as to whether or not to dye the food red.  Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, that's why it is done.  In fact, if you are wearing red clothing, especially a red hat, our hummingbirds will come right up to your face, thinking you are an extra large feeder or flower.

After doing research for this post, we will stop putting the food coloring in their food.  It doesn't seem necessary.  Our feeders are red, and there is a possibility that red dye may be harmful to the birds over time. 

There is no need to buy commercially made food.  Here's the basic formula:
4 parts water
1 part sugar
red food coloring (not necessary)

For our 3 feeders, we make a batch with 4 cups of water, and 1 cup of sugar.

In a saucepan, place the water and turn up the heat to high.  Stir in the cup of sugar until it dissolves.

Heat until the sugar water solution comes to a boil.  Let it boil for at least one minute.  Watch and don't let it boil over.  Turn down the heat to medium or low.

Take the saucepan off the heat, then add 5 drops of red food coloring (optional).

Place the pan in the freezer on a hot pad until it cools down completely.  Set the timer if you are forgetful, so that your solution does not freeze.  Then, fill the feeders.

Keep your feeders clean to keep the birds healthy.  Be sure to wash them at the beginning of the season and in between if you see any development of bacteria. 

1 comment:

  1. HI Barb
    I remember making humming bird food with you at the lake. I would mention that while you are at it, why not make a batch of simple sugar syrup. THe process is the same but the ratio is different: 1 cup of water to 1 cup of sugar. The syrup is excellent for adding to cocktails or sweetening ice tea or lemonade. Something for the birdies and something for you!