humming birds

Tips for Feeding Hummingbirds and Orioles


Feeding Hummingbirds 

They may be small but their appetite is mighty! Did you know that a hummingbird has an extremely high metabolism and must eat every 10 to 15 minutes in order to survive? They can visit upwards of 1000 to 2000 flowers in one day in order to meet their nutritional needs. 

A hummingbird’s diet includes nectar-producing flowers, fruit juice, small insects, spiders as well as tree sap. The hummingbird feeder is a welcome destination for them with its sugary nectar that helps them supplement their daily feeding requirements.

humming bird feeder

Some birders prefer to buy the nectar for their feeder while others choose to make their own. It’s a simple recipe but it’s important to follow these proportions in order for it to be digestible and nutritious: 

Nectar Recipe

• Combine 1:4 ratio of plain white table sugar and water in a pot

• Slowly heat the solution for 1 to 2 minutes

• Allow solution to cool before filling the feeder

• Avoid adding any red food dye or coloured juices as they could be harmful to the bird

Where to Locate the Feeder: 

If you want to make your feeder extra enticing then place it near some colourful blooms in your garden or colourful decorative objects, especially red and orange tubular ones. However, make sure it’s in an area that will keep the hummingbird safe from a window collision or getting its beak stuck in a window screen. It’s best to either place the feeder directly on the window with a window mount or suction cup or at least ten feet away from a window but not too far away that you can enjoy viewing. Also consider a more sheltered area in terms of wind and direct sun as well as in a location the bird can feel protected from predators. They will often perch in a nearby tree and will only approach the feeder once they know it’s safe.

humming bird feeder

Did you Know? The nectar in your feeder can spoil fairly quickly especially if in the heat and direct sunlight. A best practice is to partially fill the feeder rather than filling it to the brim since a larger quantity is likely to sit for much longer and could spoil in a day or two. Also, you should clean your feeder on a regular basis to prevent mould and bacteria from growing, ideally twice a week, with hot water or a weak vinegar solution but avoid using dish soap as it can leave a harmful solution.

Variety May be the Key:

Just like we humans have our personal preferences, so it seems can hummingbirds. So if you find that the style of hummingbird feeder you have on display is not attracting the birds, then perhaps try a few different shapes, colours and styles. Some feeders have red glass/plastic containers and some have clear, some have an oblong shape and others are round, some have a perch and some are perch-less. You could also try changing up the placement of the feeder. It’s possible that the hummingbirds aren’t visiting because they don’t feel safe where your feeder is currently located.   

humming bird feeder

Feeding Orioles

Orioles have a sweet tooth just like the hummingbirds and so you can use the same nectar recipe for them. Although an oriole may want what’s in the hummingbird feeder they aren’t able to access it because their beaks are too big plus they need to be able to perch while they feed. 

You may have noticed that oriole feeders are orange and that’s because the colour orange attracts the orioles.

Did you know? That orioles also love to eat oranges! Any easy way to attract them is to cut an orange in half or slice it up and place it in a tray-style feeder. 

humming bird feeder

Timing is Everything

If you want to attract orioles to your feeder then you must get it out early so that they notice it as soon as they arrive in the Spring. If they don’t see it upon their arrival then they likely won’t use it that season. Patience is key with this type of bird. Birders will tell you that it can sometimes take years to get the orioles to come to the feeder but when they do it is worth it with their beautiful vibrant colour and that pure, flute-like sound they make! 

humming bird feeder

Location Location Location

You are more likely to attract an oriole if the feeder is placed out in the open where they can see its orange colour. This bird also loves the sight and sound of water so another idea is to locate it close to your garden birdbath or fountain if you have one. Have your feeder in a location you can view from the room in which you tend to be in the early morning as that’s the time of day they tend to eat. 

humming bird feeder

Nutritional Needs

Once nesting season starts orioles tend to focus their food source on insects because they require more protein. That’s why they will sometimes choose to visit your suet feeder. If you have a peanut coil style feeder then try filling it with small suet balls, some peanuts in the shell and orange chunks for an attractive option for orioles as well as other birds in your yard. They will also occasionally snack on sunflower seeds. 

Feeding the birds is such an enjoyable activity and the more variety of birds visiting your yard the more rewarding it is! We have a wide variety of bird feeders and food at the store and hope these tips help you attract them to your home. 

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