Though nectar may be a hummingbird’s favorite food, it’s certainly a food choice that requires a lot more effort than that of standard bird seeds!
Though all bird feeders should be monitored regularly, and fresh food and water supplied as often as possible – with nectar, the requirements are a little more demanding.
Here we look at how well nectar fairs in bird feeders and how long you can expect it to last, offering tips to encourage a more hummingbird friendly feeding experience each time.
The Problematic Consistency of Nectar
Whether you choose to purchase your nectar ready-made or make your own, this is one sticky solution, to say the least!
A combination of sugar and water, the concept of nectar in a bird feeder is to emulate as close to the natural sucrose level of flower nectar as possible. What’s more, depending on the time you place the nectar out into the bird feeder, you can adjust the concentration with ease to suit.
This is ideal if you have hummingbirds present around those colder months as you can produce a stronger sweeter concentration. In addition to this, during migration, this stronger and sweeter makeup will help hummingbirds develop greater energy levels, building their reserves up.
However, because of the precise sweetness of nectar, it’s also the more problematic when it comes to attempting to store it for any amount of time, alongside it not being the most practical of solutions to keep in a bird feeder for too long a time either!
The Various Factors That Can Swiftly Spoil Nectar
One of the biggest concerns with nectar is how quick it can become contaminated. The main culprits for nectar spoiling quickly include:
Varying Temperatures: One of the biggest problems here is the increasing heat. Hot temperatures mean nectar will spoil or ferment. However, should you not keep up on replacing the nectar during those hotter months, hummingbirds will be put off by its horrible taste – and more than likely resort never to return to it again.
Insects/Bugs: A pain for many bird feeders is that of insects and bugs getting into the nectar solution. Unfortunately, just as hummingbirds love a bit of sweet nectar, so too do a huge variety of bugs! While hummingbirds also like insects, having the two combined is not always the best solution. Bugs that fall into the nectar can cause it to spoil.
Other Birds: Undeniably, there are certain bird members who think nothing of pooping where they eat! The common wood pigeon is perhaps the biggest offender here! Therefore, if your nectar is in the vicinity of such birds, it could become contaminated and spoiled through bird droppings.
Tips for Offering the Best Nectar for Hummingbirds
To keep hummingbirds coming back for more nectar, you’ll need to ensure you pay attention to certain tasks beforehand.
- Place nectar in those most appropriate of hummingbird feeders. Many regular bird feeders aren’t designed to cope with the increased demand of this sticky substance. Therefore, look toward specific hummingbird feeders, such as those we’ve reviewed on this site.
- Ensure that your nectar is kept on a bird feeder that has the perfect balance of sun and shade. Overexposure to sunlight can heat up and spoil nectar in just a matter of hours, bringing on the process of fermentation.
- Having the nectar placed in an area that’s constantly shaded will prevent them from discovering the bright colors of the feeder and locating the nectar you’ve placed out for them. So, the perfect balance is, therefore, an area that benefits from both the sun and shade in equal measures.
- Always clean your hummingbird feeder thoroughly each time. This means that when you do refill it, you’re starting with a clear and fresh container.
- Never be tempted to add new nectar supplies to those old nectar offerings
- Should you find yourself throwing away a lot of nectar, consider reducing the amount you offer out each time. You can always increase this once the hummingbirds start coming back for more.
Storing Your Nectar Is Equally as Important
Many people like to make up batches of nectar to cope with the number of hummingbirds visiting their feeders. This is more than understandable if you have a healthy flock of hummingbirds who visit your yard regularly.
However, it’s vital here to ensure that if you do make excess nectar and plan to store it, you do so in a place whereby it won’t spoil during this time.
Unfortunately, nectar doesn’t come with an expiration date, as such, especially when you make your own solution up. But you can prolong its life.
Consider storing nectar in a refrigerator – The best place to do this is at the back of the fridge on the lowest shelf, that is the coldest part of the fridge.
By storing nectar in a fridge, you can expect it to last for around two weeks at the most. However, you’ll still need to check for any signs of contamination before placing it out into your feeders.
Try freezing nectar for the best results – Even better than refrigerating it, when you freeze nectar, you can ensure longer storage time. Using this method, you could store extra supplies for up to a month. Just be sure to fully thaw the solution before putting it out for your hummingbirds, though!
How Often Should You Change Your Hummingbird Nectar?
Overall, there are no hard and fast rules on changing the nectar in your bird feeder. It is, however, more of a decision involving common sense!
Our best recommendation is that you get into the habit of checking your nectar levels and performing a physical check on them regularly. This is still an important task even when it looks as though the nectar hasn’t been touched.
Throughout the hotter months, look at changing it regularly. For some, this can mean anything from daily to every two days. During the milder weather, you may find that once a week is sufficient enough.