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Feeder Topic For Review

July 7 2017 at 1:50 PM
Marilyn Gruber  (Login MarilynGruber)
Hummingbird Lover 2015

Hello,
I know this topic has been addressed in other postings. But, new forum members may have not seen this information and I think it a good topic to address once again since some questions have been asked in other postings. I also hope for input and ideas for myself.

4 part water 1 part sugar used in my feeders spring to fall

Change feeders every 3 days by rinsing old sugar water out, soak for at least 15 minutes in 1 part bleach 10 parts water and then rinse well in clear water. Air dry. Fill with fresh sugar water.


I try to use only cane sugar (getting more difficult to find)and always use the bleach solution but at times get busy doing other things and my feeders soak longer. I did not think this a problem. But this year, my feeders seem to be fading badly and at times, the PP four fountain feeders are becoming more difficult to put together....plastic insert perhaps??? They feel a bit slick or like they have a film on them but I rinse and rinse each piece of the feeder individually, each flower, bee guard, cover, each piece. I also use 2 First Nature feeders(those are the ones that seem to be changing color. I am not complaining, I want to try to do all correctly for the birds. Just wondering if others use different products with better results? Should I change technique? Toss feeders and get all new?

Marilyn
Marilyn Gruber
Wisconsin
Zone 5

 
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Ward Dasey
(Login WardDas)
Hummingbird Moderator 2005

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 7 2017, 2:44 PM 

That sounds fine. The only I do differently is 3 to 1 instead of 4 to 1. Either is certainly OK.

 
 

Joe M.
(Login flhummer)
Hummingbirder 2012

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 7 2017, 3:21 PM 

Hi Marilyn,
I'll "bite" at this topic and probably get "barked" at.
No argument with the 4/1 water/sugar mix. I put 1/2 cup of sugar in a 2 cup measuring cup add hot water to the one cup mark then stir to dissolve the sugar and finally add cold water to the 2 cup mark. Stir and pour into a 1 pint bottle to further cool in the fridge before adding it to a feeder. Usually make two batches at a time each day and store excess in the fridge. Here in MA I have to make up double batches more than once a day and usually for a couple of weeks I'm making 3-4 double batches a day.

I don't resort to the bleach treatment on a regular basis. Only necessary when I note a feeder that seems to be prone to a mold attack. A good brushing and rinse twice a week works for me. After 40 years of trying just about every "hot" feeder on the market I have settled into only buying a feeder when necessary, and I prefer feeders that are easy to clean with a good brushing. If it's "designer feeder", fashionably beautiful to the human eye I avoid it like the plague! Any feeder that has hidden nooks and crannies that can only be accessed with a bleach solution is a feeder that should be avoided. All those feeders with pop out fake flowers in the ports are also an invitation to mold growth. My preference is dish type feeders that are usually very easy to clean (Aspect) but I use a few "drippy" bottle feeders in FL (homemade) since they are low volume, easy to clean and the hummers like them.

Joe M.
Lakeland, FL

 
 
Ken
(Login 5strings)
Hummingbirder 2010

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 7 2017, 5:17 PM 

I don't bleach each time either, not when I change the feeder every few days, the sugar water is still very clean.

Joe, I would guess that your ratio is "about" 1 to 3.5

Central NJ
USDA Zone 6
:c)

 
 
Indy Steve
(Login SteveWnindy)
Hummingbird lover 2007

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 7 2017, 5:28 PM 

I mostly use the 3-1 ratio but there are times when I will go 4-1 like when there is a good supply of hummers or just because. As for the bleaching usually just do it when I see the mold and some feeders are more prone to that than others like the pp209. Sometimes other feeders show it in the ports.

I used to just stir till sugar was mostly dissolved , but now days I stir then microwave till sugar is totally dissolved and for no other reason.
Steve
Martinsville In.
Zone 6

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This message has been edited by SteveWnindy on Jul 7, 2017 5:31 PM


 
 
Brett
(Login afvn71)
Hummingbird Lover 2014

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 7 2017, 5:44 PM 

Marilyn,
If a hot water wash is good enough for my dishware, it's good enough for the hummers. I've never used bleach on feeders and only use a white vinegar rinse when putting them up for winter. Like Steve, I usually go 3 parts sugar to 1 part water. That gives the birds a little more bang for the buck and provides a margin for rain dilution. Those "four fountain" feeders are a misery to clean. I have some but they are the last to be used. I much prefer the Hummzinger type and the bottle with flat dish kind like those sold by hummingbirdstore.com I have some of those that have lasted many years. I would not worry about color fading. It's more likely you are bleaching the color out. Brett

 
 
Ken
(Login 5strings)
Hummingbirder 2010

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 7 2017, 6:23 PM 

I use 3 to 1 here.

Brett, dishwasher detergent has bleach.

As far as the bleach and the fading feeders, it is more likely the sun doing the damage, unless you soak it for hours at full strength. The red lids, are they faded on both sides? If just the top then it is the sun, both sides then it is the bleach. Some feeders fade more than others. Best1 faded the most for me, aspects the least.

First Nature feeders faded for me too.

As far as the slime, I believe that is the bleach. At times I was my hands in bleach and it takes a lot if rinsining to get rid of the slim.

Ken
Central NJ
USDA Zone 6
:c)


    
This message has been edited by 5strings on Jul 7, 2017 6:27 PM


 
 
Joni
(Login Yodlei44)
Hummingbirder 2008

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 7 2017, 6:30 PM 

Some of my older feeders do fade but don't affect use. It is all in the eye of the beholder. Hummers don't care. I still use 4 to 1 with no problem. I use very dilute bleach & a toothbrush to clean around the ports & in cracks & those little brushes for the ports.

Joni
Elwood, IL
Zone 5b
[linked image]

 
 
Brett (KY)
(Login afvn71)
Hummingbird Lover 2014

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 7 2017, 6:31 PM 

Ken,
I don't use detergent, just hot water. Brett

 
 

Joe M.
(Login flhummer)
Hummingbirder 2012

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 7 2017, 6:59 PM 

Ken,
You are correct! My method yields an 18% sucrose solution. Most folks measure by vol. rather than weighing the sugar and water. 1/2 cup of sugar weighs less than 1/2 cup of water. 3/1 gets it up to about 25%.

The scientific standard is to determine the concentration of a solute on a solvent is to determine it by weight.
However I doubt there are many folks that are taking time to weight the sugar and the water before mixing them!

The hummers have little preference between the two ratios so I'm perfectly happy to use 4/1 which cuts down on the sugar bill if one is using a lot of sugar!

Cheers,
Joe M.
Lakeland, FL


    
This message has been edited by flhummer on Jul 7, 2017 7:01 PM


 
 
Larry-Southaven, MS USDA Zone 7B
(Login LarryForce)
Hummingbird Lover 2017

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 9 2017, 9:05 AM 

I mix up nectar by the quart and use a cup of sugar per quart(by volume) and finish filling with water. This probably gives me a little stronger concentrate than 4 to 1. Like Marilyn, I try to use only cane sugar but it is getting hard to find sometimes. My feeders are the PP 209 style as I have large volumes of hummers at times, especially during fall migration. I don't use bleach but have a curved bottle brush, small port brush, and a small painters brush bent to reach the deep curved corners of this feeder. I clean the feeders every time I replace or change nectar. This feeder is hard to clean if you don't have the right brushes but easy if you do. It only takes a minute or two in the sink to go through my routine. If using city water I use water from the hot water side but as I still have my own deep water well, I boil that water by the gallon and use that for my nectar. That water has no chemicals at all in it. I think by using the water that has been heated helps keep down mold etc.

I purchased 4 of the new style of PP 209 feeders when they first came out, that come apart for cleaning but was very disappointed at first as the one I tried at first, kept leaking. Have since learned that you have to tighten the base really tight and that seems to stop the leaking, even so I am still using mostly the old style of PP 209. Ordered spare parts for them, while they were available to keep them in operation for a long time. I think some modifications have now been done to the new style of PP 209 as others were having problems also.

 
 

Cathy P (Downers Grove, IL Zone 5b)
(Login Bazuhi)
Hummingbird Lover 2014

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 9 2017, 9:57 AM 

I start spring with 3/1 summer 4/1 (they have plants )
and fall migration I'll go back to 3/1.
I boil water then dump cane sugar stir and let sit to
cool
I use to use bleach but stopped some time ago I didn't
notice a difference.
I get more mold where my feeders
thread together then anywhere else I just water rinse
basically.
Out here we have Domino and C&H Sugar for our kane
Cathy P
A Hummingbird Fan in Downers Grove, Illinois
Zone 5a
bazuhi@sbcglobal.net
See My Hummingbird Gardens and Plants
https://www.facebook.com/Cathy-Ps-Hummingbird-Gardens-885457968170727/photos_stream?tab=photos_albums
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Lori
(Login Canyoneagle)
Hummingbird Lover 2015

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 9 2017, 11:31 AM 

We have hummers year round here. I use 3:1 in winter, closer to 4:1 in spring, summer, and fall. I use C&H cane sugar, which I purchase at Bi-Mart, an Oregon chain. But you can also get it at Walmart, at least around here.

I use Best-1 feeders because I prefer glass to plastic. The bases come apart and are easy to clean. I scrub the bottle and bases with brushes. I have a tiny brush specifically made for cleaning the ports that works well. I only use bleach if I notice some funky mold starting, but that rarely happens because I change feeders regularly. In cold weather I change at day 4, in cool weather I change at day 3, in hot weather I change at day 2.

I keep feeders under cover by hanging them under the porch, under the overhang, or if out in the open, under a dark dome. This keeps the rain/snow/ice off the feeders during spring/fall/winter. (Summer is our dry season, with no precip.) It also means they aren’t in the blazing sun during summer. Perhaps that is why I haven’t had a problem with dripping during hot weather. It also helps reduce fading of plastic parts, and probably keeps them from getting brittle too quickly. This is the dome I use:

https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/royal-wing-two-way-squirrel-baffle?cm_vc=-10005


Btw, right now I have about 10 hums hanging around, of 2 species, Anna’s and Rufous. All the Rufous are juvies, haven’t seen an adult in a month or so. Most popular flowers right now are several different Agastache, but especially Tutti Frutti. The only Salvia doing well here is Hot Lips, and the hums like that as well. I need a yard with more sun so I can grow more Salvia!

Lori
Eugene, OR
zone 8b



 
 
Ken
(Login 5strings)
Hummingbirder 2010

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 9 2017, 2:01 PM 

Sorry Brett, I read your post too quickly, when you wrote dishware I thought that you meant dishwasher.

I too change my sugar water so often that it is always fresh looking when it is dumped. If I wait the day too long and I see anything that grows floating, no matter how small I bleach. Much easier to change too often.

Joe, I always wondered what is the right way to mix equal parts of liquids and solids. Later I might try to weigh a cup of sugar and a cup of water to see how close they are. Might be pretty close since sugar is heavy. Would be totally different if trying to mix equal parts of water and cereal

Ken
Central NJ
USDA Zone 6
:c)


    
This message has been edited by 5strings on Jul 9, 2017 2:02 PM


 
 

I love Hummingbirds
(Login nmotz06)
Hummingbird lover 2013

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 9 2017, 2:45 PM 

I also use the Best-1 glass bottle feeders. I'm a big fan of function over form and there's not a whole lot of bells and whistles added to a Best-1 feeder. They don't drip even in the Louisiana summer heat and I've yet to see a bee or wasp on one of them. They were all over my old Wal-Mart feeders. Although hummingbirds seem to care more about the solution than the style of the feeder itself, I still think that more ornate feeders are less recognizable. This is important when trying to attract juvenile hummingbirds in particular.

I clean my feeders any time I notice black mold growing. This is usually about every 3rd-4th refill. I only put as much solution in the feeders as the birds are currently drinking in a 4-5 day span and that minimizes waste. If there's still solution left after 5 days I empty the feeder and refill it.

I always use 3:1. In my opinion it's the only way to offer the birds something close to what they are getting from natural sources like Campsis radicans, which has a roughly 27% sugar concentration. Many Salvias have over 30% sugar concentration.

When I clean, I rinse with hot water, spray with a vinegar/water mix and scrub with a toothbrush. I have a bottle cleaner brush that I use as well. I like cleaning my feeders out by hand for some reason. I guess it provides me the illusion that I am somehow taking better care of my birds than if I used a dishwasher to clean their feeders, haha.
Nathan Motz
Deridder, Louisiana


    
This message has been edited by nmotz06 on Jul 9, 2017 2:46 PM


 
 
Marilyn Gruber
(Login MarilynGruber)
Hummingbird Lover 2015

Feeder Topic For Review

July 9 2017, 4:04 PM 

Thank you to all of you for your ideas and suggestions. Now, makes me think about the sugar water solution I am making. I have always used 1 part sugar to 4 parts water (cold water). I place into a kettle, bring to a boil, turn down to a low simmer and cook for 3 minutes. I always notice the volume of the liquid has not increased (I thought it would ever so slightly since the sugar would liquefy one would think). But, always have the same amount of liquid I started with (3 cups. Oh dear!! I sure do hope I have not been feeding the hummingbirds too sweet of a solution. I think I should perhaps change my technique. I do thank all of you for great ideas on cleaning the feeders as well as how you mix your sugar water. I plan to add a toothbrush to my cleaning supplies (never thought of that) but I do have other sizes including the tiny port size kind so I do scrub well when needed. Thank you everyone.

Marilyn
Marilyn Gruber
Wisconsin
Zone 5

 
 
Indy Steve
(Login SteveWnindy)
Hummingbird lover 2007

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 9 2017, 4:37 PM 

Some people have said in the past that they would not use bleach on a feeder because hummers wouldnt use the feeder afterwards. I on the other hand have never experienced that and I will give a bleach soak when needed.
Steve
Martinsville In.
Zone 6

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Joe M.
(Login flhummer)
Hummingbirder 2012

A little math

July 9 2017, 4:49 PM 

For Ken and any others interested.

A cup of sugar weighs 200 gr.
A cup of water weighs 236.59 gr.
4/1 ratio by weight "if anyone weighs out the two" would be 200 gr. sugar / 1146.36 gr. of solution weight, which equals a 17.45% concentration of sucrose.
3/1 ration by the same method 200/909.77 = 22% concentration of sugar.

Not quite what some think would be the result of a 4/1 = 20% and 3/1 = 25%. Difference is the result of the mass weight of water vs. granulated sugar. which is 84.5% the weight of an equal vol. of water.

Now if anyone can cite a source that has referred to mixing the two ingredients by weight or vol. I would be surprised and I suspect most folks mix their solutions by vol. rather than using a scale and doing it by weight.

Either way, by weight or vol., hummers will use both so its not critical in keeping them happy and using the feeders. Most hummer flowers fall in the mid 20's percentage of sucrose concentrations, with some lower, some higher. Either concentration ratios works, so suit yourselves, but I use 4/1 except for the late summer time frame when they are building up fat for the migration south.

Putting the sugar in first and adding water does raise the concentration percentage, and why I do it that way, since I mix by the vol. method. Raises it a bit but not by more than a percent or two.

Marilyn, I don't use boiling hot water for my solutions and personally think it's a waste of time! We keep a kettle on the stove with hot water always ready but I use enough (1/2 the total) to help dissolve the sugar and then add cold water from the tap to cool it a bit before putting it into the fridge. Our tap water now a days is bacteria free except for very rare circumstances which would be well warned by those monitoring our systems.
Unless your drawing water from a lake or pond that has known bacteria present and is unsafe as drinking water there is no bacteria that should be a concern. As for those that say their solution lasts longer if they boil it first I am skeptical of the claim.

Some one mentioned floating debris in a feeder as a cause for concern and requiring a bleach treatment. I find this unnecessary since 99% of floating debris has been introduced by the hummer's bill and it's not symptomatic of a mold problem. A good rinsing and brushing is all that's necessary.
Cheers,


Joe M.
Lakeland, FL


    
This message has been edited by flhummer on Jul 9, 2017 5:19 PM


 
 
Fran
(Login happyhummer)
Hummingbird Lover 2015

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 9 2017, 6:45 PM 

I use a 3:1 in cold weather, and 4:1 in warmer weather. I pour the water into a sauce pan and bring it to a boil (we have a well), then pour in the C&H pure cane sugar, stir until dissolved, then let cool. I store excess in quart jars in the refrigerator. I change the feeders every two to four days depending on how warm it is. I have Humzinger feeders, with one exception which is a red, teardrop style with standup metal flowers. The fledgling Hummers seem to be able to figure out how to use this one, when they can't figure out the saucer type. They are all pretty easy to clean, but I do use a tiny brush for the feeder ports. I just use very hot water to clean and give them a white vinegar rinse every third or fourth wash. Then follow with a cold water rinse. I use a diluted bleach rinse followed with a hot water rinse when I put them up for the winter. I don't have any problem with mold, as my nectar solution is still pretty clean when I dump it. But I always watch for it!

Thank you for bringing this up Marilyn! It really helps to review once in awhile.

Fran
Lakeview, OR
Zone 4/5

 
 
Ken
(Login 5strings)
Hummingbirder 2010

Re: Feeder Topic For Review

July 9 2017, 9:44 PM 

Hi Joe,

I don't know if anyone else mentioned floating or not, but when I said I bleach if I see anything floating that is growing I meant growing as in mold. Dead bugs, or dirt is not a factor for me to bleach.

Ken
Central NJ
USDA Zone 6
:c)

 
 
 
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