Hummingbird feeders are popular in backyards across America. Many people place these feeders right outside a window so that they can easily watch the birds feed without disturbing their natural behavior. It is often cited as a very relaxing pastime by homeowners.
It is a common misconception that hummingbirds exist solely on the sugary nectar they get from flowers and from man-made hummingbird feeders. The truth is that hummingbirds are insectivores, feasting on flies and spiders. However, due to the high amount of energy they need to keep themselves airborne, they require high amounts of sugar. This energy consumption is the primary reason that they seek out nectar.
Unlike traditional bird feeders, hummingbirds often use a feeder that allows them to access the liquid while still in flight. That is why most hummingbird feeders are designed without a “perch”. However, many people suggest providing a perch so that the bird can rest while drinking, thereby saving valuable calories. The most recognizable feeders are often made from an inverted bottle attached to a small dish. As the liquid is consumed, gravity pulls more liquid from the bottle and into the dish. These feeders are pretty self-sufficient and only require an occasional refill and cleaning.
Most hummingbird feeders are filled with sugar water. There are stores that sell “nectar” solutions that are pre-mixed, but truth be told, they're not necessary. Mixing white, refined sugar into regular tap water is all that is really needed to satisfy the needs of the bird. Most of the other nutrients they require are received through the insects and flower nectar that they also consume during the course of a day. Many people add red food dye to the sugar water in an attempt to make the feeder more attractive to the bird; but this is completely unnecessary and some experts believe that the red dye can actually be harmful to the animal.
If you want to make your hummingbird feeders especially healthy for the birds, try placing small pieces of fruit nearby. As the fruit decomposes it attracts a variety of flies, which are what hummingbirds are really looking for anyway. This way they get a good boost of energy, and a full meal, all at the same time.