Are Hummingbirds Emptying Your Feeder Too Fast? – Read On

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Many people dream of attracting hummingbirds to their feeders with no luck. If you’ve got the opposite situation, that’s typically a good problem to have.

Sometimes hummingbirds (or other critters) will empty feeders too quickly. This can lead to a lot of work filling the feeders and extra money spent on nectar mixtures. Let’s take a look at what you can do.

Exploring Reasons Why

Let’s think about why your feeder could be getting emptied so quickly and what you can do.

Something Else Is Drinking Your Nectar Solution From Your Feeders

It could be another larger songbird such as an oriole if the ports on your hummingbird feeders are big enough for them to insert their beaks so they can lick up the nectar.

But these birds are not nocturnal, so you would likely notice these nectar-loving birds at your feeder during the daylight hours.

There is another possibility and that could be that another creature is emptying your feeders at night. You can read more about who by clicking here.

The Hummingbirds Near You Are Simply in Need of Lots of Food

At any point during their migration journey, they will need more energy. After all, they are making a long journey all the way to or from Mexico, Panama, or other Central American locations.

They will also need a lot of food right before migration time and right after it has ended.

For male birds, fighting for territory and attracting a mate with their aerial dances requires a lot of energy, as do building a nest and raising babies for female birds.

What Can You Do?

Hummingbirds Emptying Feeder Too Fast

Having a feeder that empties quickly isn’t necessarily bad, as it gives you the opportunity to clean your feeders and change out the nectar often, keeping it healthy for the birds.

Keeping fresh nectar out for your hummers is very important. If the sugar solution sits outside for too many days, especially in hot weather, it will develop mold or go rancid. Putting fresh food out every couple of days is never a bad thing!

However, if you’re having trouble keeping up with the birds’ metabolism, you might need to simply purchase another feeder, which will provide twice as much food for the little birds.

This will keep each of your feeders full for longer, but it won’t reduce the amount of nectar solution you’re using or how often you need to change out the nectar. However, if you don’t mind doing it and you just want to keep your feathered backyard friends happy, a second feeder will help spread out the birds.

Pre-mixed Hummingbird Food vs. Mixing Your Own

Hummingbird food is relatively inexpensive, but it is usually still cheaper to make your own hummingbird food by combining one part white sugar with four parts water.

If you’re mixing your own hummingbird food, it’s important to use the correct ratio. Anything less than that and birds won’t be getting as much nutrition as they need from the nectar.

It’s also important that you don’t use anything besides plain table sugar. Brown sugar and honey are two ingredients that you want to avoid.

You can boil the water first before adding the sugar, but you do not have to. If you do, just make sure the homemade hummingbird nectar is cooled all the way down before re-filling the bottle.

Making a larger batch of extra solution and then putting it in the fridge for a little while isn’t a bad idea either, and can save you some time. Just don’t let it sit too long!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Quickly Can Hummingbirds Empty a Feeder?

A group of hummingbirds can empty a feeder fairly quickly. Depending on the size of your hummingbird feeder, how many different birds are visiting your feeders, and how often, you could reasonably expect a group of active birds to empty your feeder in two or three days.

Having a small feeder that empties quickly isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since it means you can clean the feeder and change the nectar out regularly.

Why Are My Hummingbirds Drinking So Much?

According to Arizona State University, a single hummingbird eats about half of its body weight in sugar daily, eating perhaps up to 48 times throughout the day.

Not all of this comes from feeders, of course, as hummingbirds also visit flowers and eat small insects such as fruit flies.

In order to maintain their high metabolism, hummingbirds need to eat frequently. They may also eat more if they’re feeding their young, migrating or about to migrate, or if they’re in the middle of the mating process.

More Hummingbird Info

Balcony hummingbird feeders – Is a Balcony four floors up too high for feeding hummers? Will they come that far up to feed?

When do I take down my feeder? – Some people believe that nectar feeders should be taken down by a certain time or the little birds will not fly south. But is that true?

Nectar feeder: when should it go out? – It is important to get your feeders out for the start of spring feeding. Find out when is a good time in your area.

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Jacob Swanson

Jacob Swanson is a writer and wildlife photographer born and raised in Wisconsin and currently based in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Since graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his work has appeared in over a dozen different web and print outlets. In his free time, he’s on a personal quest to visit every U.S. national park and see as many wildlife species as possible. His favorite birds are whooping and sandhill cranes.