Keeping your hummingbird feeder cool can make the difference between life and death in your local hummingbirds, as contaminated feeders cause severe illness and vulnerability to predators. Hummingbirds also appreciate cool nectar over hot nectar on a warm summer’s day because it is more refreshing.
Here’s how to keep hummingbird feeders cool in the summer:
- Choose a shady spot for the feeder.
- Keep nectar in the fridge until you’re ready to fill the feeder.
- Buy a feeder made from glass.
- Add ice cubes to the feeder.
- Add a layer of insulation to the feeder.
5 Ways To Keep Hummingbird Feeders Cool
There are many ways that you can keep a hummingbird feeder cool in the summertime, from the placement of the feeder to icing and applying insulating sleeves.
- Place the Feeder in the Shade
One of the biggest things you can do to keep a hummingbird feeder cool in the summer is to place the feeder in a shady spot, somewhere out of direct sunlight.
This will prevent the nectar from overheating, thus preventing the growth of harmful bacteria and mold in the feeder.
- Store Nectar in the Refrigerator
Make sure that you store extra sugar water or nectar in the refrigerator. That way, when you refill the feeder, you’ll be supplying a cool food source.
It will take some time for nectar exposed to the sun to heat up, and refrigerating the nectar ahead of time increases the length of time it takes for the nectar to heat up.
- Use a Glass Hummingbird Feeder
Glass hummingbird feeders like the Perky-Pet Top-Fill Glass Hummingbird Feeder from Amazon are easier to clean than other feeders.
They also provide a thick barrier between the outside air and the nectar, keeping it from spoiling as quickly.
Glass is also scratch-resistant, which means that bacteria can’t find a home in small, hard-to-clean cracks.
- Add Ice Cubes
Another easy way to cool down your hummingbird feeder is to add ice cubes to the nectar.
If you’re going to use normal ice cubes, make sure that you make your nectar more concentrated to compensate for the melting water.
Otherwise, you can make ice cubes out of the nectar itself.
- Add Insulation
You can also keep your hummingbird feeder cool by adding an insulation layer to keep the cold from escaping.
Depending on the shape of your feeder, you may be able to repurpose a soda cozy by cutting off the bottom and then sliding it over the main chamber of the feeder.
Why Do You Need to Keep Hummingbird Feeders Cool?
You need to keep hummingbird feeders cool to prevent mold and bacteria that build up when sugar water or nectar inside the feeders are left unattended.
Sugar water can even ferment in hot weather, causing severe illness in any hummingbirds that drink it.
Hummingbirds have no sense of smell and cannot tell whether sugar water has gone bad, which means you must make sure the sugar water is safe for them to drink.
As a general rule, hummingbird nectar should not be exposed to direct sunlight or temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32°C) for long periods.
If your feeder is exposed to hot temperatures, ensure that you clean and refill the feeder to prevent bacterial growth.
Diseases Caused by Dirty Hummingbird Feeders
A hummingbird feeder left unattended can grow numerous different fungi and bacteria, causing severe illnesses. These include the following:
- Candidiasis, a fungal infection of the tongue
- Avian poxvirus, a viral infection that causes growth on the beak, making eating impossible and ultimately causing starvation
- Aspergillosis, a fungal infection that causes gastrointestinal distress
- Salmonellosis, a bacterial infection that causes gastrointestinal distress, tiredness, ruffled feathers, and ultimately death
To decrease the likelihood of these diseases developing in the summer heat, you should consider decreasing the amount of sugar you add to your sugar water.
Rather than mixing one part sugar with four parts water as you would during cooler weather, try mixing one part sugar with five parts water.
You should also clean your hummingbird feeder fairly often on a regular schedule, especially in the summertime when temperatures rise above 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21°C).
Cleaning can prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.
How To Clean Your Hummingbird Feeder
Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned once per week and filled with fresh nectar every three to five days in the summer, and they should be cleaned and refilled even more often if temperatures are over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32°C).
To clean your feeder, follow these steps:
- Rinse out any remaining nectar from the feeder with hot water. If you have a lot of nectar left but need to clean the feeder, don’t be tempted to reuse the nectar; dispose of it, and remember to fill the feeder with less nectar next time.
- Disassemble the feeder and soak the pieces in dish soap and warm water for one to two hours.
- Use a scrub brush to clean all of the pieces of the feeder.
- If you cannot reach all parts of the feeder, mix rice with dish soap and put it in the feeder, then shake it.
- Rinse the feeder thoroughly with cold water.
- Dry the feeder thoroughly before reassembling.
You can also use vinegar instead of dish soap to clean the feeder.
Simply replace the soap in the above steps with a mixture of one part distilled white vinegar and two parts water.
Alternatively, you may be able to put your feeder through the dishwasher.
Just make sure that you check to make sure that the feeder is dishwasher friendly before choosing this option, as some feeders will melt in the dishwasher’s heat.
You’ll also need to scrub away tough spots, even if you put it through the dishwasher.
Hummingbird Feeder Alternatives in the Summer
The best alternative to a nectar feeder for hummingbirds is a garden filled with hummingbird-friendly flowering plants.
Hummingbirds like brightly colored, tubular flowers like bee balms, petunias, and foxgloves.
Ensure that whatever plants you choose are native to your area, as these will be the best option for your local hummingbirds.