Why are hummingbird feeders bad? – Teach me about Science

Hummingbird feeders are definitely not the best option when looking to provide food or attract these magnificent birds to your garden or home. Although most people use artificial feeders for a good cause, the reality is that they could be putting the health and lives of hundreds of hummingbirds at risk and here we explain why.

To begin with, the best alternative you can choose to provide food for these small birds is to create a garden for hummingbirds with plants that are preferred by them, so you can create a special space for these animals that does not interfere with their normal behavior.

You may be interested in reading: 10 plants to attract hummingbirds to your garden and home

As we know, the diet of hummingbirds is based mainly on the nectar obtained from flowers and, after feeding, they carry out their main ecological contribution, which is pollination. When hummingbird feeders are placed, this activity could be disturbed.

On the other hand, a study tells us that “feeders affect their distribution patterns, habitat use, location of nesting sites, and increase interspecific interactions, many of them atypical or infrequent in sites far from feeders or in the forest. natural”. This applies especially to sites close to natural areas.

In this way, UNAM experts indicate that “if you live near natural areas, it is important No use nectar drinkers because they could modify their biological way of getting it and distract them from their work in nature, which is to pollinate.

On the other hand, in urbanized areas with a very gray environment and little vegetation, drinking fountains could be an option, since in these places the change in land use and loss of ecosystems also represents a loss of the flora on which they feed.

However, the main problem and why it is harmful use the drinkers is because there is not enough education and commitment to its use and maintenance and this puts the life of birds at risk. Here we list why:

  • Don’t buy plastic troughs. Because this practice has become popular, low-quality plastic drinkers are usually sold that can put these birds at risk; this type of material releases toxic substances when exposed to the sun. In this way, if you buy a drinking fountain, do it in a way responsible and choose one of glass.
  • Hummingbirds can die of starvation. If you want to purchase a feeder, you must really commit to keeping it fresh and full, as hummingbirds are sometimes completely dependent on them and can starve to death if they are left empty.
  • Prepared red nectar is harmful. This product, which is marketed together with the feeders, is highly harmful to hummingbirds, because the red dye that is added causes damage and generates diseases. The best option you have before this is to prepare nectar, for this use ONLY table sugar (also known as standard sugar or white sugar); put a measure of sugar for four of water and dissolve perfectly, you can boil, wait for it to cool down and put it in the drinker.
  • Use of sugar substitutes. Due to ignorance, many people find it easy to use a substitute for table sugar, this can be harmful to birds, so NEVER use honey, refined sugar, icing sugar, muscovado or sweeteners.
  • Place drinkers in places exposed to direct sunlight. The feeders should be placed in a shady place that is not exposed to the sun, because the nectar from a drinker in the sun is damaged in a single day and this is detrimental to the health of hummingbirds.
  • Nectar change. It is indicated that you must change the nectar of your maximum drinker every three days, in hot climates you must do it before, do not allow more than this time to pass, it could be very harmful for many of these small birds.
  • Regular cleaning. Many people do not take proper care and keep the drinkers dirty. These should be cleaned at least every week. It is recommended to wash it with hot water and soap, rubbing with a brush, then use white vinegar to remove fungus and soap residue, and rinse well with clean water.

Finally, as you can see, with great power comes great responsibility, which is why, if you have or want to acquire a drinking fountain, you must be extremely responsible in its use and maintenance, verify that you are not near natural areas or prefer to plant flowers, as it involves less care and is safer for hummingbirds.

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