Hummingbirds feeders, are these thing ok for them?

I did a hummingbird feeder, and I received a lot of attention, from my friends, who said it was ok, and others who mentioned it was wrong for a lot of reasons, to remediate it I planted some plants hummingbirds feed on.
It started with one male, but today there were 5 males, fighting for this territory and for this source of sugar. My roommate took this feeder and claimed it was a bad idea, she saw this as human pressure and claimed it was my fault for making them fight. I don’t see the bad, but then, my boyfriend reminded me once we saw a dozen foxes, imprinted, trying to get food from visitors in the vicinity of a national park in Chile. He comments is bad to feed wild animals, and he is right. But so, why are hummingbird feeders so popular?
I really liked that feeder, but now Im not really sure anymore. What is the vision of ecologists, ethologists, biologists and experts regarding these feeders? finally, will it be negative for these birds?


Hummingbird feeders are fine, just don’t use any of the ready made red stuff or put anything it that will color the sugar water red. That is bad for them.

If your concerned with the fighting, which they will do anyway seeing as they are territorial by nature. Just put up more hummingbird feeders.

I always have a hummingbird feeder up in the summer. Never had any issues aside from ants and wasps.


It’s fine; Cornell Labs endorses hummingbird feeders. If Cornell University says it’s okay, I feel pretty okay about it. They have a well-known Ornithology lab. They should know if there would be adverse consequences:

Be sure to use a nectar made from white sugar (fewer impurities) in a ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water and change it often.

To ensure it is healthy, I change the juice and wash the feeder at least every 3 days, sooner if it develops mildew or gets any bugs in it. I use very small feeders so I do not have to throw away large amounts of nectar.

I have hummingbird feeders up year-round ( small flying saucer style). Hummers (we have Anna’s humming birds) are quite territorial and will compete over them. But, they will also compete over the flowering shrubs. I put the feeders on different sides of the building so they serve two populations.


While they may compete over the feeders often during the day, I find it fascinating that at dusk anywhere from 3 to 6 birds will use a feeder at the same time. This happens more in cooler weather. Apparently, evening is a truce time while everyone cooperates to get enough calories to last the night.


The other warning I read was to avoid a feeder with any metal parts.

For our sunbirds in Cape Town (altho the feeders are very popular) I prefer to deliberately choose plants for them. Aloes, Halleria lucida, Tecomaria …


I wonder if it could be a tiny bit safer, from a very specific environmental standpoint, than feeding granivorous birds. At least with sugar water you don’t have to worry about non-native seed dispersal. Or is commercial birdseed somehow treated before sale to prevent sprouting?

My mom has sunflowers growing from seed scattered from her feeder, so while some seed may be sterilized somehow, not all of it is.


Well… I loved my seed feeders, But I gave them up when I got worried about attracting rodents ( the birds kicked so much seed out into the ground cover). I don’t have that worry with nectar feeders.


As far as I’m concerned, hummingbird feeders are fine. The only problem I’ve heard from them is red color dye vs normal plain sugar. Whether or not its true, I’ve been ridiculed for doing that because I was gifted a whole box of mix that’ll probably take me years to use. But once again, I don’t know if it’s true red dye kills because the company is Perky Pet and they’re sponsored by Cornell so…

I can’t speak for your hummers, but our sunbirds get pollen, with small insects and spiders, with their flower nectar. A well balanced mixed diet. Sugar water only is not healthy?

Tiny insects for protein
More info in the comments here


I recall a concern expressed, but don’t remember by whom, that hummingbird feeders left in place late into the fall might delay migration and keep the birds in an area longer than they should remain (that is, past the time when natural sources of nectar have disappeared). Possibly that makes them vulnerable to starvation if feeders don’t remain available. In southern Nevada, I’ve seen hummers active around feeders on January 1st and when it’s close to freezing. Would they be there if the feeders were not? Can feeders alter the migration behavior in a negative way?


I’ve recall reading something like that, too, about bird feeders in general. I don’t recall where I read it, so I cannot speak to it’s validity. It would be worth looking into in areas with big migratory patterns, I guess.

Hummingbirds are year-around residents in my region, so winter feeders are appropriate.


I have also heard that concern but (Cornell to the rescue again) I’ve read otherwise. From Cornell’s All About Birds:

By the way, keeping your feeders up in the fall will NOT cause hummers to delay migration . Many factors trigger birds to migrate, but the strongest one is day length. As days grow shorter in late summer, hummingbirds get restless and start to head south, regardless of whether there are feeders around. Several hummingbird accounts in Birds of the World also note that feeders may help hummingbirds survive in early spring or late fall when flowers are not in bloom.

So in fact, feeding them at the beginning and end of the season might even be helping them fuel up right before day length, among other things, triggers migration.

As for @diegoalmendras’s original question, I’d agree with @teellbee that if Cornell Lab of Ornithology endorses, then it should be just fine. My theory is that the placement of my house in what could otherwise be wildlife habitat takes away enough that I have a responsibility to replace what is lost with feeders, plantings, and wildlife-friendly landscaping practices. It’s their world, we’re just living in it!

edited to add link to article


Good to know, thanks.


Thanks you for your comments, people!! I’'l back with these feeders!


Yes, hummers eat insects, too. Years back, I watched a hummer darting over my woodpile, ignoring the nearby feeder . I eventually realized it was picking little insects out of the air and spider webs arounD the woodpile.


Preying mantises love the feeders. One such insect easily overpowers a humming bird and does the hyena thing on it. All by itself.

1 Like

I keep wondering based on what you said, are you suggesting that you feed hummers with some sort of pollen/insect mix from an interesting new more holistic feeder (would be very cool if so!) or that they access those in addition to the nectar from flowers only? Either way, I didn’t know that they would eat pollen or insects. Very Interesting. I certainly have always tried to include a combination of planting and feeders to provide more of a holistic incentive to visit. :)


I don’t feed, I plant. But there is research that sunbirds also eat pollen and the small life they find when foraging naturally. They also use spiderwebs to line their nest, win win.

For @goodlordbird


Southern Nevada happens to be residential range of both Anna’s and Costa’s Hummingbirds so they normally don’t normally migrate anyhow. In regards to freezing temperatures, my lifer Anna’s Hummingbird was the first Gallatin County, Montana record in 2015. I observed it on the 19th of October, a week after it was initially spotted. And it was almost a blizzard when I saw him. He stayed an additional two days at the feeders to wait for the storm to blow over and he moved on.


This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.