Help hummingbirds by keeping feeders filled

Perhaps the action at your hummingbird feeder has slowed down with the slightly cooler New England weather recently, but the folks at Wild Birds Unlimited in Warwick RI remind us that all the birds haven’t left yet.

“Now is a crucial time for migrating hummingbirds to stop for a refueling on their journey south,” the WBU staff says. “Even if your resident birds have left the neighborhood, you may get some very hungry migrants. Your feeder could mean the difference between them making it or not.

“Watch for overnight frost when you should bring the feeder in at night and put it back out in the morning.” 

A hummingbird feeder without ants

It’s a banner year for ruby-throated hummingbirds in southern RI.

Normally, we have two families of hummers, one on the north side of the house where the perennial garden grows, and another on the south side where the deck has lots of geraniums, a hibiscus of two and a scarlet Mandevilla vine. The north side of the house has one syrup feeder, and the south side has two feeders.

Monarda (bee balm) grows wild everywhere in the yard.

This summer, we have had as many as eight hummers at one of the feeders on the deck. An old-fashioned bottle feeder, it had only four feeding holes. And recently, it was attracting a lot of ants. The bottle feeder on the north side was loaded with ants, too.

So, it was off to Wild Birds Unlimited this morning to buy two more ant-free feeders that the company makes. The feeder has a moat that you fill with water to keep ants out of the nectar-syrup. We have had one up since the birds arrived in April, and it work beautifully.

We go through a quart-and-a-half of nectar-syrup a day, sometimes re-filling a pint-size feeder three time a day. Today, we got one that holds 24 ounces, so the birds will always have something to drink.