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Hummingbird Food Recipe & Feeder Care

The hummingbirds arrived in droves about three weeks ago, with most of them showing up just after the last big storm, as if they were blown in with the wind. We have observed that this year’s number of spring migrating hummingbirds have gone back up to the number seen four or five years ago.

We’ve got feeders up around the lodge and the aerial acrobatics of these tiny birds has begun in earnest. Sitting on the porch at Tara Lodge is a great way to get to see the ruby-throated hummingbirds up close.

Hummingbird sitting on red buckeye in our native plant garden

Hummingbird sitting on red buckeye in our native plant garden

Hummingbird Food Recipe

Making food for your hummingbird feeder is simple. Here’s the recipe recommended by the Audubon Society.

  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup of white sugar

Bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Let the water cool to room temperature and then fill up your feeders.

DO NOT use honey or artificial sweeteners, raw sugar, agave syrup, molasses, or brown sugar in the hummingbird food and you don’t need to add any food coloring or red dye to the mixture.

You can keep any extra sugar water in the fridge for up to a week. Be sure to let it warm up to room temperature before you put it out for the birds.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the feeders around the Lodge

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the feeders around the Lodge

When to Clean Your Hummingbird Feeder

Keeping your hummingbird feeder clean and supplied with fresh food is important to keeping the birds healthy. Only put enough food in the feeder for about 2 days maximum since you’ll need to clean the feeder every 2-3 days.

On hot summer days, you may have to increase the cleaning to every 2 days because the food will spoil faster in the warmer weather. Keep an eye on the feeder to see if any cloudiness has developed which may indicate mold. If you see mold, you need to take the feeder down immediately and clean it.

Keeping your feeders in the shade can help slow the growth of mold in the food.

How to Clean Your Hummingbird Feeder

Take your feeder apart and use very hot water (without soap) to clean each part. Use a bottlebrush to get inside the feeder and pipe cleaners for the feeding holes. Clean off any mold or mildew that is visible.

Avoid using soap or bleach to clean your feeders. Audubon recommends the use of only a mixture of vinegar and water to clean them and then allowing them to fully dry before refilling.

Other Ways to Attract Hummingbirds

Ruby-throated Hummingbird feeding on Buckeye

Ruby-throated Hummingbird feeding on Buckeye flowers

If you don’t want the hassle of maintaining the hummingbird feeders, you can plant perennials, annuals, and flowering vines that will provide them with food (nectar). Some of the native plants include:

  • Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)
  • Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
  • Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans)
  • Native azalea (Rhododendron canescens)
  • Bee balm (Monarda spp.)
  • Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

A couple of our favorite non-natives that hummingbirds like are:

  • Lantana (Lantana camara)
  • Salvia (Salvia spp.)
  • Azaleas (Rhododendron spp.)
  • Butterfly bush (Buddleia spp)

See a detailed list of flowering plants that attract hummingbirds in Mississippi

Spring Birding Weekend at Tara

Our Spring Birding Weekend is a great way to get to these and other spring migrating birds. There will be birding bus tours, guided birding tours, food, friends, and more. Read about some of our favorite spring migrating birds seen at Tara.

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