With the imminent arrival of the hummers, we'd like to tell you about seven of our favorite hummingbird feeders. Our hope is that our recommendations will save you time if you're looking for hummingbird feeders and want advice based on our extensive experience and feedback from customers.
As you can imagine, there are many types of hummingbird feeders, However, most feeders are either the cylindrical type or the flying saucer type, and we're going to focus on these becausewith the exception of a popular feeder that is shaped like a giant strawberryour favorites fall into these two categories.
Cylindrical Hummingbird Feeders
These types of feeders have been around for a long time, thanks to the Perky-Pet Company, which has been making feeders since 1958. Their Original 30-oz. Hummingbird Feeder, Model PP209, has a hardened glass feeding chamber with a base that contains six feeder stations. Perky Pet describes it as their best model, and customers tend to agree.
If you want something smaller, another great model is the Perky Pet 8-oz. 4 Fountain Feeder, Model PP203C. This one has a pinch-waist glass feeding chamber, and four feeding stations that feed from the same reservoir.
For the smallest of all, go with the 3 oz-cylindrical mini-feeder designed by Perky Pet for hanging baskets. It consists of a shatterproof BPA-free polystyrene feeding chamber with a bee guard, plus an attached mounting rod that you insert into the soil so as to suspend it a few inches above the basket or planter box. Some people put some right into their flowerbeds. Because of its diminutive size and wide-mouth design, it is very easy to clean and fill, and is dishwasher safe.
Though it is sometimes described as a beginners' model, veteran hummingbird enthusiasts also use it because its single feeding station gets around the problem of hummingbirds being territorial: only one hummer can feed at a time. Some people put out ten or more and have hummers all over the place, each feeding happily in his or her own spot.
What are the advantages of the cylindrical feeders? Well, for one thing, the hummers really and truly love the tubular designthat's been verified by their use for more than twenty years. The bee guards on these models work well, in fact, they also keep out finches as well. These models will not collect rainwater and they will not clog. They also hang nice and straight.
The main disadvantage is that, compared to the flying saucer models, they are difficult to clean. People also sometimes complain about dripping, and that the chamber is not so easy to fill, and might require a funnel.
Not so with the Perky Pet 48-oz Grand Master Hummingbird Feeder, model PP220, which has six feeding ports, and an unbreakable BPA-free polystyrene feeding chamber. This jumbo model is preferred if you go through a lot of nectar quickly; its maximum storage capacity allows you to cut down on mixing and filling. Its wide-mouth design makes it easier to clean than the other Perky Pet models we've mentioned, with the exception of the mini-feeder for planters.
The easiest cylindrical model to clean is Dr. JB’s 16-oz Clean Feeder, Model DJB16CY. The base comes totally apart, in fact, it snaps apart, so you can put the pieces through a dishwasher cycle or sponge them out in your sink. This sturdy feeder features a hardened glass feeding chamber and a baffling system that minimizes leakage, even in high winds. Though relatively new on the market, this feeder has been getting great reviews from veteran hummingbird enthusiasts and it may eventually earn the reputation of being the best moderately-sized tubular feeder ever.
Flying Saucer-Type Hummingbird Feeders
Flying saucer feeders have been gaining in popularity in recent years. Their main advantage is that they are super-easy to keep clean, and, because the openings are on the top not the bottom, it tends not to leak. Bees are less attracted to this design, so that's another advantage. This type of design also lets you see the hummers from all angles, and it's less likely to spill nectar on windy days. However, the jury is still out as to whether hummingbirds like this design as much as the tubular models. Some customers insist they don't, while others get scores of hummingbirds visiting each day.
The model we carry of this type is the Perky Pet Oasis 16-oz. Hummingbird Feeder, Model PP221, which features six feeding stations and a built-in ant moat that works really well. Cleaning and filling is a snap, thanks to the snap-on top. Though it comes with a brass rod, this model is best mounted on a pole because it has a tendency to hang crooked otherwise. (Some customers, however, fiddle with it and get it to hang just right with the help of a rubber band or other household item.)
One thing we like about this model is that its shatterproof nectar holder is made of acrylic, a plastic that is BPA-free. For this reason, we prefer it to Hummzingers, a line of similar hummingbird feeders made by Aspects, which are made of polycarbonate, a plastic that leaches BPAs.
The Giant Strawberry Hummingbird Feeder
Finally, we come to a 48-oz model that certainly has the most fun design of any of the others we've discussed: the Perky-Pet Strawberry Hummingbird Feeder, Model PP260. This feeder has three feeding ports and features a large BPA-free polystyrene feeding chamber molded to look like a giant red strawberry. Like the 48-oz Grand Master, a feeder of this size will help you cut down on mixing and filling provided that you have the enough traffic to warrant its use. (Otherwise, your nectar will go bad before the hummers finish it.) Full disclosure: none of us have used this feeder in our own gardens and we haven't received feedback about, although it is one of our bestselling feeders. Assuming that no news is good news, we are including it on our favorites list because it is a favorite of our customers.
Hummingbird Feeder Troubleshooting
Some models have yellow flowers painted onto the feeders. These help to attract hummingbirds, but they can also sometimes attract bees. If this is true in your case, the easiest solution is to simply paint the flowers red using some red nail polish.
When it comes to cleaning the cylindrical models, some owners keep extras on hand so that when they bring one in for cleaning, they hang the other one out.
Many people choose to mount their feeder on a pole, but some find that the pole becomes an ant highway. To stop this, spread a band of Vaseline or Tanglefoot about .5 to 1 inch wide around the perimeter of the pole.
If ants are getting into your hanging feeder, a season-long solution is the Perky Pet AntGuard, which can be mounted above and/or below the feeder. The device has a shielded disc saturated with Permethrin, an insecticide that is not harmful to birds, pets, or children, but will definitely stop the ants.
Hummingbird Feeder Accessories
Some people think that the only way to a hummingbird's heart is through its stomach, but they will also appreciate it if you lend them a hand in finding nesting material. Save your hummingbirds a little work by hanging a Hummer Helperâ„¢ Cage with Nesting Material out for them. The 6″ x 11 coated wire cage is refillable, and the nesting material is fully biodegradable and environmentally safe. A real hummer helper that all hummingbird lovers should have!
If you find that the heat is making your nectar go bad too quickly, get a Songbird Essentials Hummer Helmet. This 12″ hanging protective baffle will also give your hummers some much-appreciated shade, and its bright red color will help to attract even more hummers to your garden. Simply attach it above your feeder using the connectors provided.
Learning More about Hummingbirds
There's a lot to know about hummingbirds, and there are many resources to help you learn. We highly recommend the The Hummingbird Book by Donald and Lillian Stokes, which contains a wealth of information, There are also some good hummingbird sites on the internet, such as http://www.hummingbirds.net.
There's also a lot more to know about hummingbird feeders, such as that there are some very nice window feeders as well. But we'll stop here, and wish you the best in attracting and enjoying hundreds of hummers in the months to come.