Hummingbirds are a family of birds that received their name due to the humming noise their wings make which is audible to human hearing. They are among the smallest of bird species and include the Bee Hummingbird, which is just 5cm in length and the smallest of any family.
Typically, a hummingbird can flap its wings anywhere from 50 to 200 times per second and can fly at a speed of up to 34 mph. they can fly backwards or upside down as well.
They also have the highest metabolism of any animal that can internally regulate its boy temperature. This means they need to eat a large amount every single day just to survive.
Hummingbirds drink nectar, which is the sweet liquid, found inside some flowers. Hummingbirds are excellent at deciding which flowers have the best amount of nectar in them, in a similar way to bees.
In fact, they can ignore flowers that only produce around 10% sugar. It is generally a mixture of sucrose, glucose and fructose but it doesn’t give them much in the way of nutrients.
This means they eat insects and spiders to compensate for this. Most people do not know how to make honeydew.
Hummingbirds have adapted physically to their chosen food source with the shape and size of their beaks. Some of the species have long bills, which can get deep into the flower while other species can actually pierce the base of some of the flowers and get the nectar that way. There are even some species, such as the Tooth-billed Hummingbird, which has spikes on its bill!
It is collected by lapping, much like a cat does with milk. They eat small meals and will eat around half their weight in pure sugar every day.
However, they don’t fly all the time, as this would use too much energy; they spend around 10-15% of their time feeding and the rest perched.
When you have a metabolism like these guys do, it isn’t surprising that they are highly attuned to finding food sources. Some, especially in North America, are actually territorial and will chase other species away from their food supply.
This is because they can starve so easily with their extreme energy use. So how can you make honeydew quickly and simply at home?
It is a simple thing to make honeydew at home to add to specially designed hummingbird feeders so the visitors to your garden can have a bonus treat.
In fact, the extra food you provide them could be the different between life and death for these tiny birds, especially if you live in an area where they pass through while migrating.
The basic honeydew recipe is 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. You boil the mixture to remove any bacteria then allow to cool. It can then be added to a hummingbird feeder or stored in the fridge.
There are plenty of feeders available for hummingbirds and their unique needs. Many of them feature bright colors such as red and yellow and often have feeding ports, which are decorated with plastic flowers to help attract the birds.
Many of them are plastic but there are also some ultra-stylish ones such as the Hummingbird Feeder — Beautiful Hand-Blown Red Glass. This features a red glass bulb, which holds 32 ounces of honeydew and four feeding points, also decorated with red flowers.
If you don’t have the space to store the liquid honeydew, you can always buy a ready-made nectar product.
Hummingbird Instant Nectar Best 1 High Energy Food – Wildlife Accessories 14. is one such product, which creates 100% natural food that is high in energy but has no artificial colorings to it. It contains 14ounces of powder, which can be added to water to make nectar to be added to the feeders.
When positioning your hummingbird feeder, remember to leave plenty of room for the birds to get access. Birds usually feel more confident approaching something when they can see the surroundings and know there are no hidden predators ready to pounce on them.
At the same time, try to avoid direct sunlight as this can enhance the problem with bacteria discussed below. It can melt the glass or plastic too!
Color is also theorized to be important to hummingbirds. These little birds eat from flowers so are used to finding something bright and being rewarded with food. This is why most of the feeder are made from brightly colored materials, which will attract the bird’s attention and draw them.
Because honeydew has a very high sugar content, these feeders will require cleaning more often than a normal bird feeder that just has seed in it.
This is because sugar is a rich growth medium for nasty substances such as mold and bacteria. Yeast can also cause it to ferment and cause health problems. Therefore, it is recommended they be cleaned weekly in cooler temperatures and as often as every day in the hottest climates.
The other sign to watch for is either the nectar turning milky white or black spots appearing, both of which are a sign of a growth of some form that needs dealing with.
Finally, it can be advisable to get a feeder that has some kind of moat around it. And the attackers you are protecting against? Ants, mostly, who will enter the feeder and die a sugary death.
Hummingbirds will not drink from a feeder which contains any ant extras, so a moat around the feeder stops them being able to enter in the first place.