This question was asked by Charles from Louisiana.
What is Drinking My Hummingbird Nectar at Night?
Answer: Two possible Culprits – Others, Possible
Hi Charles: There are two culprits that could be consuming your hummingbird nectar at night. Number one is bats. It is quite common for bats of many kinds to drink syrup from all different hummer feeder styles. Many species of bats have very long tongues which allow them to drink out of a hummer feeder while on the fly. Like hummingbirds themselves, they enjoy a sweet drink to wash down their nightly feed of bug protein. Number two is flying squirrels. They have been known to cling to a nectar feeder and sip away. They could actually drain it quite nicely and chew it up in the process as well.
Are There Others Who Might Drink Hummingbird Nectar?
There are a few other animals which zero in on hummingbird feeders too, including bears and raccoons.
Bears will often destroy the feeder in the process. Raccoons may do the same. If your feeder is destroyed, you can often narrow it down to one of these two animals.
How Can You Discover Who or What is Drinking Your Hummingbird Nectar at Night?
Video the culprits!
If you are really stumped and don’t mind the expense, you could set up a wildlife video camera.
This maybe perhaps the only way to discover for certain who the culprit is other than staying up all night to watch your feeder and hope the thief arrives the night you choose to hold your stakeout.
Video cameras have come down in price and are very popular for setting up inside bird houses or feeders.
Bats Are Beneficial
If you don’t want to let bats drink from your hummingbird feeder, then use a feeder that has bee guards on the feeding ports.
Bee guards may not be 100 percent effective in keeping bats from drinking nectar, but it may make it more difficult for bats to reach the sugary syrup inside the feeder.
Before making it more difficult for the bats to access your feeders, think about whether you want to discourage bats from your yard.
They are a great benefit to have nearby, as they eat thousands of insects each night. Many of those will be mosquitoes.
Less mosquitoes is a definite bonus!
What Other Visitors Have Said
Keep reading below to see contributions from other visitors to this page…
More Comments for What is Drinking My Hummingbird Nectar at Night?
Empty feeders too, by anonymous I have had feeders out for 5 years with no problems and now some thief is stealing all the nectar at night. My solution was to tie plastic bags over them at night and so far that has worked. Just a suggestion.
Judith: Good suggestion, Thank you!
Hummingbird feeder mystery, by anonymous: I’ve been following this thread, and it’s been very helpful. I also am finding my feeders drained in the morning afters years of no incidents. I’m betting it’s a raccoon. I thought maybe a possum might be the culprit, but after reading all the postings, I’m pretty sure it’s a raccoon. You mentioned trying to catch it on video–can you recommend a decent video camera for surveillance in the dark? I’ve started bringing the feeders in, but I have a lot of wildlife in my backyard, and I’d love to catch them on camera when I’m not around.
Judith: Glad you have found the experiences of others helpful! You can see nature cams that have night capture ability here.There is variety in price points to choose from, so just look around a bit.
Picture quality will vary between cameras. Just be sure the one you choose has the ability to shoot at night.
Also, a motion-activated video camera will save you loads of time watching hours of video waiting for something to see. If you find your culprit, please drop back and share a photo or two!
I caught bats draining my feeder, by TC: We had this mystery as well in Guadalajara, until my sister and her husband came to visit.
She saw the bats feeding at the feeder and brought it in at night while she was here.
As soon as she left, about a week later, we started leaving it out again.
A scout bat seems to come and check it, followed soon after by about six or seven other bats.
Then, they take turns until they drain the feeder and seem to get drunk in the process.
They start flying into pillars and walls as well as each other.
I use a commercial feed that is supposed to be organic, all natural and healthy for the hummingbirds.
I’m not sure what ingredient is intoxicating the bats.
My daughter calls the nighttime feeding “bat bachanalia.”
Judith: That’s an interesting story.
I would like to suggest that you contact the company that makes the Hummingbird mix you use and ask them to send you the list of ingredients.
Or is it possible the sugar water is converting to alcohol quickly because of the heat?
At any rate, I believe you should continue the practice of bringing it in at night to prevent the possibility of the bats hurting themselves. Please let us know what transpires.
Mission accomplished, by Keri: I brought my feeder in every night and put it out in the early mornings for a week and then did a trail run one night and left it out and the thief in the night has moved on!
Woooooooooooo hoooooooooooooooooo! Im so happy and so are my little darlings!
Thank you, Keri
Judith: That is awesome!
Peace reigns again.
Congratulations on your success!
Your patience and persistence have won the day.
Thief in the night, by Keri: So I moved my feeder to see narrow my culprits lol and its not a raccoon.
Flying squirrels? Really? I’m thinking bats? so we are bringing it in at night and back out in the early mornings. It’s a problem on weekends when we are at the lake house.
Empty hummingbird feeder by morning, by Keri: I am so stumped! I came home from Memorial weekend to an empty hummingbird feeder. This has NEVER been drained in the 5 years I have been feeding them. It is in the same spot, which is right outside my slider on my high deck hanging from the railing on a heavy black hanger! I’m so sad for my little cuties! So I bought a new feeder thinking the one I was using had a leak. I’m in Michigan and our nights are still cold. Last night with the new feeder; I checked it at 9:00 and my husband went out at 10:30 and it was empty! Please, if someone has any ideas help me, and soon! Thank you!
Judith: Hi, that is certainly a quick drain job! You will find answers to your problem here on this page as you read the experiences of other bird feeders. Bats, squirrels, raccoons and bears are usually the culprits that drink hummingbird nectar, although usually bears will be more conspicuous, as they are noisy and will typically destroy the feeder.
Raccoons will also cause damage to the feeders. You may have to change the location of your feeder where it cannot be reached by raccoons and squirrels.
Baffles may help too, although flying squirrels are a unique problem on their own! 😉
Same problem, by Steve: Something is popping off the yellow flower clip-on feeder ports from my hanging feeder. They are not chewed, only popped off. It’s out of reach of raccoons and it hangs on a long wire so squirrels can’t reach it. I haven’t been able to catch the culprit and it’s driving me crazy.
I’m now thinking bats but I’ve never seen any. A mounted camera might work, but it seems to happen at night. I’m going to try gluing the flowers on too.
Judith: Hi Steve. It is a mystery figuring it out, but I really caution you against using glue. It poses a health risk to the hummers or any other bird which is using the feeder. A finch or oriole often will pop-off the florets to expose the larger hole underneath. Please let us know what you discover! Happy birding!
I found the culprit, by Phillip: For the last month and a half I’ve been wondering what is stealing the nectar from my feeders at night.
My oriole feeder was drained every night. Hummingbird feeders never touched.
My orioles are gone now, so I took the feeder down. Now the hummingbird feeder is getting drained.
I’ve seen a chipmunk on top of the feeders multiple times. Figured this is the culprit.
Last night before darkness I couldn’t believe my eyes, a big raccoon was surgically draining the feeder. Never seen this before.
This raccoon just looked at me and posed for a few shots and went back to draining the feeder.
So I sent my Vizsla (dog) out after him.
Now my Vizsla has some entertainment and it looks like the raccoon got the memo. Feeders are untouched today.
I’ve been feeding these hummingbirds for years and never seen this before.
This was the first year I’ve fed orioles and think this is what started the mystery.
I don’t know if it was the grape jelly or the orange which attracted the raccoon.
Wish I could post the photo.
Judith: Thank you Phillip for sharing your very interesting story. You can upload your photos by clicking here, which leads you to share your story. You do not have to tell your story again, just upload your photos. Would love to see them! 🙂
Who Took the Flowers off my Hummingbird Feeder, by Mickey: I have a Perky Pet glass hummingbird feeder that I’ve been using for 14 years with no problems.
This feeder has a glass bottle with a red plastic base and has those yellow snap-on flowers over the ports.
This morning I noticed that two of the flowers were gone, so I went outside to look and saw that all six yellow flowers were gone.
These flowers snap on tight and they’re hard to pop off. I found all six of the flowers broken apart all over the ground below.
The rest of the feeder isn’t damaged at all. Do you have any idea what could have done this? Thanks, Mickey
Judith: Hi Mickey, I think it is very likely that a raccoon has popped off your flowers and broken them in the process. As Phillip shared above, they are very nimble.
Thanks for sharing!
Night feeders, by anonymous: I have had two hummingbirds each evening after it starts getting dark, 7:00 to 8:30, come to flowers, in Illinois.
Nice to see, don’t see them in daytime.
Same here, by Pete: Hi, I have been having the same problem.
I do not mind at all, I would just like to know for sure what is eating my nectar.
I make my own nectar, and I can bring in over 20 hummingbirds at one time.
The only thing I have been able to see at night are bats and night hawks, or bullbats as some people call them.
Thanks for the info, if anyone has anymore info, please let me know, I am out of southestern Arizona, thanks.
Raccoons Drank My Feeders Dry, by anonymous: Raccoons drank my feeders dry in East Tennessee. I put flour on the rail of the deck and had paw prints to confirm.
Mystery disappearance, by anonymous: It seems I am not the only one experiencing the overnight loss of syrup.
I have moved the pole-mounted feeder around the garden but it’s always the same result. The feeder is found drained. It must be bats.
Judith: It often is bats at night if the feeder is not being destroyed.
It could be flying squirrels too, as they are largely nocturnal.
The only way to know for sure is to purchase an outdoor camera.
Makes for very interesting viewing!
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