Q: I started feeding hummingbirds with feeders but want to offer them a better diet so which plants could I grow to give them a variety? I’ve also noticed that the birds aren’t visiting my feeders as often as they did in the beginning when I first put them up. Any suggestions? – N.F., Albuquerque
A: Let’s start with the slowed activity at the feeders. I’m going to be very blunt here as my first question to you is “are you keeping the feeders cleaned and fresh?” Because if you aren’t being faithful about cleaning and keeping the nectar fresh, you can bet the hummers will find another diner! It’s amazing how quickly the nectar can turn “sour” (for lack of a different term) leaving a bad taste in the hummingbird’s mouth.
With the hot weather, scum, mold and mildew grow very quickly in the feeders. So, for the health of the birds I’m suggesting that you wash the feeders with soapy water and be sure to rinse thoroughly every time you refill with fresh nectar. At stores that specialize in bird feeding you can find tiny bottle brushes to get the feeding ports really clean, too.
I’m changing my nectar every third day, especially in the heat, and haven’t noticed a slowing of visitors to them. So perhaps you need to be a bit more vigilant with the care of the feeders.