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What Do Hummingbirds eat?

This small video shows at least 4 different hummingbirds using one of the 8 feeders that I maintain for them.  It is one of the smallest feeders that I use.  The hummers in my yard seem to prefer it above the rest.  While I was videotaping this feeder, I did have birds at the others in the yard.

Hummingbirds eat nectar, and small insects. Insects such as mosquitos, aphids, gnats, midges, and whiteflies are captured in mid-air and by foraging. They also eat small spiders.  Placer County, California is located in the Pacific Flyway. Thousands of little hummingbirds pass through on their way north, all of them looking for a bite to eat. Some even stop and use Placer County as a breeding area. Some live here all year long.

Hummingbirds have high energy requirements. They must eat continuously during waking hours. Gram for gram they have the highest energy output of any known warm blooded animal. They constantly face starvation. Their energy requirements cause them to eat more than they weigh each and every day. In laboratory experiments it was found that hummingbirds eat meals. They consume a large intake of food at one time, and then rest while it is digested. The food that they consume is stored in an elastic type sack found in the neck called a crop. This crop acts like a stomach. The crop allows small amounts of food to be passed into the intestines where the sugar is then absorbed into the bloodstream. 

In Placer Co., feeding hummingbirds is really easy. Just plant flowers that they are attracted to and they will show up in your yard. Red, orange, and pink tube shaped flowers are their favorite. Some of the flowers that hummingbirds like are American columbine, bee balm, bugleweed, butterfly milkweed, coral bean, coralberry, fuchsia, hibiscus, hollyhock, larkspur, lemon bottlebrush, mimosa tree, evening primrose, red buckeye, red impatiens, red salvia, sage tiger lily, trumpet honeysuckle, trumpet vine, weigela and zinnia.

If you can't or don't what to go the effort of maintaining a hummingbird garden, there are multiple designs of hummingbird feeders on the market to choose from. 

Maintaining a hummingbird feeder is a commitment that you must be aware of. First and foremost the feeder must have clean nectar in it.  Feeders get contaminated easily because they are shared by many birds and insects. In hot weather mold can grow quickly and is toxic to the hummingbirds. It is recommend that the fluid in feeders be changed every three days, and that the feeder is cleaned each time the fluid is changed. A soft bottle brush will help clean the nooks and crevasses, to sanitize use a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water, and rinse thoroughly.   It is also recommended that you hang a minimum of 3 feeders.  They should be placed out of view of each other.  Hummingbirds are very territorial and will defend a feeder from all who come near. 

Home made Nectar
1/4 cup white cane sugar
1 cup hot water

Boiling this mixture for 2 minutes helps keep mold from growing.  Cool before using in feeders.  Store excess in the refrigerator.  Recipe can be multiplied.

In Loomis, Placer County,  feeders can be maintained year long.  Anna's hummingbirds make their home here.