Clark Baker’s Hummingbirds

August 28, 2012

OMSJ Director Clark Baker feeds a swarm of hummingbirds from the deck his Los Angeles home…

There’s a trick to getting many birds to buzz like this.  The key is fresh food.  Don’t waste your money on red dye “hummingbird feeder food,” they don’t care what color it is.  Get yourself a small feeder and stir one-part granulated sugar with four parts hot tap water.  Change and wash your feeders at least every 3 days.

Like many animals, hummingbirds are fiercely territorial.  If you hang one feeder outside, one “bull” will stake it out and chase the pilgrims away.  The key is to hang 3-4 feeders around your home so that you get 3-4 bulls chasing away the pilgrims.  After you have committed bulls watching their feeders, gradually (weeks or months) move the feeders closer together, reducing the number as the feeders get closer together.  The bulls will try to chase the others away but, while they’re chasing one, the two other bulls will be drinking.  Over time, so many pilgrims and bulls will show up that the bulls can no longer control the territory.

I used small 8-12 oz feeders to attract the birds but now use two 72 ounce feeders, cycling the feeders when empty (usually less than two days).  Always keep your feeder clean – I wash the base in the dishwasher and rinse the bottle with hot water.  If you notice that the bottle getting dirty, soak it in a mild bleach/water solution.  I use two one-gallon jugs – one to mix the sugar water and the other to keep the unused bleach solution.  I cycle two feeders, so one is always being cleaned while the other feeds.

The key is consistency.  I ALWAYS have a clean feeder outside, rain or shine.  After a few years, you’ll attract generations of birds to your window.

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