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DaveOl

Hummingbird feeder

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A few weeks ago the two pair of hummingbirds stopped coming to my nectar feeder.  I cleaned out the feeder  with vinegar and water and put in fresh nectar that I prepared.  They still have not returned.  I live in eastern Tennessee so the should not have migrated yet.  I am not in the mountains.  I can't figure out what has happened to them.  Is this too late for them to be feeding their you with insects instead of feeding off the nectar?

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I guess that this is too hard of a question with the information that I have given.

Tomorrow I'll go down and buy another hummingbird nectar feeder and cook up another batch of nectar and see if that helps.  Should I get a different shape feeder or will they even remember what the old one looks like?

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I think that I will fill the new feeder with premixed red nectar so that the birds will recognize it as something new.

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I was gone for most of September, so I didn't get to see how the hummingbirds were acting then, until I was able to return home in early October. I cleaned my feeders and provided fresh nectar in the first week of October. Within a few days, I had two hummingbirds back at my feeders, and they stayed for several days to a week. I believe they both migrated within a day or so of each other, which happened last Sunday or Monday. Now, I'm not as far south as you are, but I was pleased to have a couple of stragglers grace me with their presence those days. I don't know if my information will help you or not; I am just relaying my experience this year. I have had a really unusual year personally, so I'm trying to get back into a groove of noticing habits of different birds.

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Migrating Ruby-Throated Hummers start showing p here in September, so I wouldn't expect you to have too many left in late October. But I'd wash out your feeder and be certain there is no lingering vinegar smell, and scrub them well to be sure there's no mold anywhere. Depending on the style of feeder, it can be difficult to get it all off, and the birds don't like moldy or fermented nectar (so I would imagine they wouldn't like a vinegar flavor either). The mix with the red coloring is not recommended, because it's unnecessary and there is some evidence that the red coloring could be harmful to the birds, given the huge volume of nectar they drink compared to their body weight. Also I'm not at all convinced they would recognize red nectar as something different and apply logic to think, oh, I should try this nectar because it's different.And I doubt they will have rejected the feeder forever if it does have a funny smell or something; I've committed feeder sins like letting them go dry and the hummers come right back once the situation is corrected. Ruby-Throats in the US should be very familiar with feeders; they were the first to find my first feeder, while it took the locals months and months to figure it out.  Also, hummers eat both bugs and nectar whether they have babies to feed or not; the bugs are for nutrition, the nectar for energy for all that zipping around doing acrobatics. 

I'd clean the feeders well, rinse thoroughly, and fill with a small amount of nectar. Be sure you change it before it goes bad. My guess is that they are all down here with me by now :D 

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Thanks for the answers.  I'll clean the feeder out with vinegar and water and let it soak for awhile and rinse before refilling it.  The holes are definitely hard to get clean.

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For cleaning the tiny holes, I bought a little tiny scrub brush at Wild Birds Unlimited that looks a bit like a mascara wand, minus the mascara. Before I bought that, I used a toothpick or two, but that only helped a little bit. Good luck with your cleaning and new nectar!

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I'm having a few stragglers come thru now that I think are migrating out. I started to take it down the other day, but as I was walking out on the porch there was a quick fly by sip, and then it was gone. I'm almost scared to take it down yet because I heard they will remember where it is located next year when they come back. This is my first year feeding them, and we are still having a lot of warm sunny weather here, so I dont wanna take mine down just yet. I'm just using sugar water too, so it's not that expensive to keep it up. Does everyone take theirs down for the winter if they live in the southern state? I heard some stick around so they keep they their a feeder up.

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7 hours ago, FamiliarFace said:

For cleaning the tiny holes, I bought a little tiny scrub brush at Wild Birds Unlimited that looks a bit like a mascara wand, minus the mascara. Before I bought that, I used a toothpick or two, but that only helped a little bit. Good luck with your cleaning and new nectar!

I use an old toothbrush and a bamboo skewer. That little brush sounds handy!

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6 hours ago, MeInDallas said:

I'm having a few stragglers come thru now that I think are migrating out. I started to take it down the other day, but as I was walking out on the porch there was a quick fly by sip, and then it was gone. I'm almost scared to take it down yet because I heard they will remember where it is located next year when they come back. This is my first year feeding them, and we are still having a lot of warm sunny weather here, so I dont wanna take mine down just yet. I'm just using sugar water too, so it's not that expensive to keep it up. Does everyone take theirs down for the winter if they live in the southern state? I heard some stick around so they keep they their a feeder up.

I leave mine up all year, of course, but in my "slower" seasons I have fewer feeders. I try to strive for a balance between refilling constantly and the nectar going bad, but it's cool here so it doesn't go bad all that fast. Lots of people even farther north than you leave a feeder up well into the fall in case a straggler comes by; that's one time when you can get vagrants that are not normally in your area. You can make up some nectar and just put a little in the feeder, and keep the rest in the fridge, so you can change it often but not have to make it constantly. Your birds should still remember your feeders, though; I wouldn't worry too much about that.

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4 hours ago, Aveschapines said:

I use an old toothbrush and a bamboo skewer. That little brush sounds handy!

It is really is handy! I use it a ton! :)

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