Friday, August 27, 2010

Hummingbird feeders run the gamut from simple and effective to works of art that match their feathered customers with their beauty, detail and color. Blown-glass hummingbird feeders are favored styles, with their bright, sparkling color and soft, curving lines.

These feeders are the synthesis of style and function. Parasol is a leading designer and manufacturer of glass hummingbird feeders. Their styles are among the most beautiful in the industry. Known for vintage style and delicate details, these hummingbird feeders can dress up any backyard or garden.

Many feature red crystal droplets that dangle from the feeder to attract hummers. You can create a breathtaking centerpiece in your garden by hanging one of Parasol's hummingbird chandeliers, or plant a unique version of a standard flower garden with their stake-mounted "blossoms."

History of hummingbird feeders

No one knows for certain how long people have been trying to attract hummingbirds to their gardens. Perhaps for as long as mankind has had an appreciation for beauty. The hummingbird has definitely been around for a long while. Fossilized humming bird remains recently found in Germany date back 30 million years! Today, hummingbirds only exist in the new world. With their lightning speed and jewel like iridescent feathers they have always captured man’s imagination. One of the mysterious geoglyphs, (huge pictures etched into the silt on the Nazca Plain of Peru), is a hummingbird. So vast that it is only visible from the air, this hummingbird dates back to 200BC -600AD and is surely the world’s largest hummingbird.

The first commercial hummingbird feeder was introduced in 1950 by the Audubon Novelty Company of Medina, New York. It was a glass tube type of feeder and immediately became popular in the U.S. It was designed by Laurence J. Webster of Boston, as a gift for his wife, who had read an article in a 1928 edition of The National Geographic Magazine. The story mentioned that it was possible to feed hummingbirds from a small glass bottle. Webster designed a feeder and had it produced by a glassblower at MIT. The August, 1947 edition of National Geographic Magazine featured an article by Harold Edgerton who, using his newly invented strobe flash, photographed hummingbirds at Webster’s feeder. The rest, as they say, is history. Considering Webster’s success, men should listen more closely to their wives!

Modern hummingbird feeders

During the 50 plus years that have followed the introduction of that first feeder, many styles and designs have come and gone. Today, feeders are usually made of ceramic, glass, plastic, or a combination of these materials. For the most part, they are divided into two types, bowl feeders and bottle feeders.

Here are some important considerations when selecting a hummingbird feeder;

  • Color is important. Red is the color of choice. Most of the flowers that are the hummingbird’s natural source of nectar are red, pink, or coral colored.

  • Select a feeder that offers the hummingbird a perch. While hummingbirds normally hover in front of a flower during feeding, they much prefer to rest as they feed. While they stay at an individual flower for mere seconds, gathering the little nectar that is there, they will stay at the feeder until they have drunk their fill. Treat them to a sit-down meal.

  • A feeder with a bottle reservoir protects the nectar from bacterial infection, contamination from insects and spoilage. This is important to protect the hummingbird’s health.

  • Select a feeder that is easy to disassemble, clean and refill. Maintaining a supply of fresh, clean nectar is vitally important to the well being of your hummingbirds.

  • Choose a feeder that has an ant moat, or similar device to keep insects from contaminating the nectar in your feeder.

  • Fancy glass and ceramic feeders are attractive, but due to their design they are difficult to clean and tend to drip, which attracts bees, ants and wasps. These insects can become trapped in the feeder, contaminating the nectar.

  • The National Audubon Society recommends cleaning your feeder once a week. To clean your feeder use ¼ cup of white vinegar to 1 cup of water. After cleaning, rinse the feeder 3 times with fresh water.

Placement of your Feeder

Where you hang your feeder is almost as important as which feeder you choose. Here are some tips about hummingbird feeder placement.

  • Put your feeder where it will be noticed by the hummingbirds and will be easily accessible to them. Do not be concerned if the birds don’t show up immediately. Hummingbirds are extremely inquisitive. They will find it.

  • If possible, do not put your feeder close to your window. They may injure themselves by flying into the glass. If you have no other option, place pictures, or decals, of larger birds on your window to prevent the hummingbirds from getting too close.

  • Definitely place your feeder where you can see it. The antics of these tiny miracles of nature are better than anything you will see on cable TV – unless you are watching a show about hummingbirds.

  • If you replace your old feeder with a new one leave the old one hanging empty next to the new feeder for a while, until the hummingbirds recognize it as a new source of food.

Humming Bird Feeders …

7 Important Dos and Don’ts about Hummingbird Food

As I mentioned before, the nectar in your feeder is intended to be a supplement to the hummingbird’s diet. It provides the birds with a much needed fuel stop. They will come to trust your feeder as a safe place to visit during their nonstop search for food. There are a few things you should know before you fill your feeder.

Recipe for hummingbird nectar

1 cup white, granulated sugar,

4 cups, fresh, hot water. Tap water is fine (boiling is not necessary).

Stir in the sugar until it has completely dissolved. Let the mixture cool before using.

NOTE: Extra mixture can be kept, refrigerated, for a period of time.

  • Do not use commercially prepared hummingbird liquids sold as “Hummingbird nectar”, or “Hummingbird food”. They contain preservatives that may actually prove harmful to the birds. A mixture you can make in less than a minute, in your own kitchen, will be better, safer, and less expensive.

  • Do not add food color to your mixture. It can be harmful to the birds. Let the feeder itself provide the color.

  • Do not use brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, raw sugar, or turbinado sugar to make your syrup. Confectioner’s sugar contains corn starch that can cause the syrup to ferment quickly. Brown sugar and raw sugars contain iron and can prove deadly to hummingbirds over a period of time.

  • Do not use honey to prepare your mixture. Although honey is made by bees, from nectar gathered from flowers, the sugar it contains is not as palatable to hummingbirds as plain granulated sugar. Additionally, honey promotes the growth of microorganisms that can be dangerous to your hummingbirds.

  • Do make your own “hummingbird food”. Let your children, or grandchildren help you. It can be an experience they will treasure throughout their lives.

  • Do use only white, granulated sugar in your mixture. The birds will thank you for it.

  • Do clean your feeder and change the mixture frequently, even if there is still some nectar left. This will keep your birds healthy and happy.

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