Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Get more hummingbirds with 2 or more hummingbird feeders!

Do you have a hummingbird feeder set up in your yard? Yes? Great! Now set up another!

Wait. You can have 2 hummingbird feeders? Why, yes, yes you can! And more.

You can have two or more hummingbird feeders at your feeding station. The more hummingbird feeders you have, the more hummingbirds will grace your home. And there are other benefits too.

What other reasons are there to have more than one hummingbird feeder? We'll answer that question first. Then we'll answer another question you may have, namely: How far apart should you place additional feeders?

Photo of two hummingbird feeders
My neighbor has two hummingbird feeders... and LOT'S of hummingbirds!
There were 6 or 7 birds buzzing around when I snapped this picture.

Why have two hummingbird feeders?


Recently I set up a hummingbird feeder after several months of not feeding hummingbirds. I don't remember why I stopped feeding hummingbirds, but I did. Oh, that reminds me. My hummingbird feeder is empty again and I have to make more nectar. Thinking about it, I may have stopped feeding hummingbirds because we ran out of sugar. We aren't bakers, so don't ever use sugar for anything except making hummingbird nectar. Could that be it? What a poor excuse for not enjoying the daily antics of these wonderfully energetic creatures!

So, right now I only have one hummingbird feeder... and that, apparently, empty. (sigh) But I have discovered 3 reasons to have two or more hummingbird feeders. You may think of other reasons. If so, please leave your reasons in the comments section....

… Okay, I'm back. Yes, I felt so guilty that I went out and took down my (mostly) empty hummingbird feeder. I brought it in and washed it thoroughly, using dish washing liquid and an appropriate sized bottle brush. Then I stirred together thoroughly 1 cup of granulated sugar and 4 cups of warm tap water in a sauce pan. I refilled the feeder using a funnel. Extra hummingbird nectar went into two plastic water bottles marked "HB" and placed them in the fridge. It only took me 12 minutes.

[See my article on making your own hummingbird nectar: "Recipe: Hummingbird food--Steal your neighbor's hummingbirds!"]

The bully hummingbird


Have you heard about the "bully hummingbird"? Some people who feed hummingbirds become upset that one dominant bird takes over the feeder and drives off any other hummingbirds that try to drink. Hummingbirds are no different than chickens, evidently. There is always a "pecking order" of dominant and submissive birds. "One ring (hummingbird) to rule them all."

This territoriality is perfectly normal. But you'd rather have a dozen hummingbirds all sharing peacefully, wouldn't you? Sorry. That's not going to happen. But offering more than one hummingbird feeder makes it easier for the submissive birds to get in and get a drink. How so?

Having more than one feeder offers more opportunities for hummingbirds to get a drink. The hummingbirds notice the extra feeders and are more determined to get some for themselves. While the master chases off one hummingbird, another can get in for a few seconds of ambrosia!

I see that my dominant "bully" hummingbird is back at his perch on the giant bird-of-paradise, keeping vigil--taking on all comers.

More hummingbirds!


Hummingbirds don't take long to learn what a hummingbird feeder is. They soon learn that each feeder means additional feeding ports. More food! If you live in a location where hummingbirds are numerous, you can have a surprising number of hummingbirds coming to drink. More feeders; more hummingbirds!

By mid summer (July) the adult male hummingbirds have already migrated southward. In the West, adult males follow the mountain ridges south into Mexico, feeding on montane flower nectar. But the birds-of-the-year often stick around their breeding areas into early October. Younger birds seem a bit more agreeable to feed together, without the bully adult males around.

On the Gulf Coast fall concentrations of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds can be amazing.

In southern California (where I live) Anna's Hummingbirds are very common year-round residents. But other species migrate through. Some breed in spring nearby in the oak hills (Black-chinned Hummingbird) or the desert beyond (Costa's Hummingbirds) or along the beach (Allen's Hummingbird). They winter elsewhere, and visit during migration. And Rufous Hummingbirds pass through in spring and fall. I may see them stop briefly at my feeder on their way between Mexico and Alaska, or return.

The more feeders you have, the more hummingbird activity you have. Those migrants I mentioned are very good at spotting other hummingbirds feeding. These migrants, though smaller, are often more pugnacious than the large resident Anna's and push right in to the feeder!

Never run out of feeder nectar


If I would have had two hummingbird feeders I wouldn't have run completely out of hummingbird food. You see, I would fill them at different times or at different levels. That way my second feeder would still be half full when the first feeder ran out of liquid.

Photo of my hummingbird feeder
My hummingbird feeder is all filled up and ready to go.
Now all I need is ANOTHER hummingbird feeder!

Of course, if I don't go to the store to buy more sugar I will run out of nectar. More feeders mean more food gets eaten.

On the other hand, I do want my feeders to empty completely in 3 days. The hot California sun can cause the sugar-mixture to grow algae or attract ants. So I want to clean my feeders every 3 days, or so, to keep them clean and safe for the hummingbirds to drink from. That means that I choose a smaller feeder and don't always fill it completely full.

With two or more feeders I can rotate through. I would allow one feeder to go completely empty and then take it down and clean it. Other feeders would still be providing the precious calories the hummingbirds need.

How far apart should hummingbird feeders be placed from each other?


When you have two hummingbird feeders, or more, a question arises. To make it harder for the bully hummingbird to take over, do you hang a second hummingbird feeder together with the first feeder or perhaps around the corner, out of a direct line-of-sight?

The consensus seems to be: "it depends."

Are hummingbird numbers, generally, in your neighborhood low? Then having a second hummingbird feeder widely spaced, perhaps "hidden" from the first, may work best. Your dominant hummingbird will guard one feeder. Other birds may feed from the second feeder.

Are there several hummingbirds visiting your yard? Then what will happen is that the second-most-dominant hummingbird will take over the second feeder. Then you'll have two feeders, both with their own personal "bully" hummingbird, keeping all other birds away.

With more hummingbirds, and more feeders, it becomes harder for one bird to take over. Placing multiple hummingbird feeders together will provide a buzz of activity and chasing. But often several hummingbirds will tolerate each other and feed at once, albeit briefly.

Why not do both? Put a couple of feeders together on one side of the house. Put another around the corner. Your neighbors may think you a bit eccentric, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, is it?

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear from you. What did you think? Is something missing? What else would you like to see in a future article? Comments are moderated to eliminate spam; thanks for understanding that I may not be able to get back to you right away. --Greg--

Legal disclosure

As an Amazon Associate I earn commissions from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support.