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Nectar feeders

Nectar feeders

(Jeffreyw / Flickr; cc by 2.0)

Hummingbird feeders are available in many attractive styles and sizes, all with one commonality: a receptacle that holds liquid and dispenses it through little ports.

Orioles also appreciate nectar, but need feeders with larger ports. Birds see colors and red seems to be most attractive to them.


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Once you have hummingbirds and orioles visiting your feeders, you’ll want to take good care of them. The “nectar” you’ll prepare is simply sugar water. Mix one part sugar to four parts water (1:4). Boiling the mixture kills bacteria, which may help keep it fresh longer, but hot tap water or even cold water will dissolve the sugar within a short time. An easy way to prepare nectar is to measure sugar and cold water into a soda bottle, screw on the lid, shake it up and leave it for a couple of hours. When the sugar is thoroughly dissolved the nectar is ready to be used. Store any leftover in the refrigerator for up to a week. Here are some important things to keep in mind when feeding nectar to birds.

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  • Don’t add red food-coloring to the water. It isn’t necessary and can be harmful to the birds.
  • Be sure to change the nectar in the feeder every three to five days, or sooner if you see mold forming.
  • Allowed to ferment, nectar can be deadly to hummingbirds.
  • Never use artificial sweeteners, honey (which quickly grows mold) or fruit juices.
  • Don’t apply insecticides or other agents around the feeding ports to deter insects;
    use an ant moat, instead.


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