Hummingbirds are small native birds from America, and their favorite food is nectar. So if you’re among those searching the keyword, “how long does hummingbird food last,” your search ends here.
This article will take you through the relationship between hummingbirds and nectar and also let you know how long a hummingbird’s food will last.
Since we have established that nectar is hummingbird’s favorite food, let’s shed more light on nectar.
What Is Nectar?
Nectar is a liquid that is rich in sugar and is manufactured by plants or nectaries. However, the most common nectaries are glands that are found on flowers called floral nectaries.
These floral nectaries are a source of attraction to hummingbirds, and their richness in sugar makes them desire it the more.
Although your hummingbird’s best food might be nectar, which is a fantastic choice, but bear in mind that it requires more effort than the standard bird seeds.
While you provide nectar for your bird, you should monitor your bird feeder regularly and provide fresh water and food as often and quickly as possible so they don’t eat stale food.
The Problems Surrounding Nectar
It doesn’t matter if you purchased ready-made nectar or planted the flower that produced the nectar; this can be a very sticky problem.
The combination of water and sugar is a solution used to emulate the sucrose level of nectar and placed in a bird feeder.
Depending on when you placed the nectar inside the bird feeder, you can easily adjust the concentration to suit what you want to achieve.
If you have hummingbirds on your property during winter, this is right the time to produce a more robust and sweeter concentration for them.
Furthermore, during the migration period, the sweet and robust concentration will help the hummingbirds develop massive energy levels and build their reserves.
Meanwhile, due to how sweet nectar is, it’s become a problematic commodity to store for an extended period, and you can’t even keep it in your bird feeder for long.
You should trash and change the nectar every five to seven days even if there are no immediate signs that it’s gone bad.
In summer, nectar won’t last two to three days, give or take, before it becomes a danger to the hummingbirds.
What Are The Factors That Can Damage Nectar?
Many things can contaminate nectar, and they include the following;
Many bird feeders are faced with the problem of having bugs and insects get into their nectar solution.
Here’s the problem
The same way hummingbirds are attracted to the sweet nectar, so are the bugs and insects dying to have a taste of the nectar.
Meanwhile, hummingbirds also eat insects and bugs.
But then again, consuming both isn’t the best solution because once a bug or insect falls into the nectar solution, it can make it go bad.
One of the significant factors that can spoil the sweet nectar is the changing temperature which leads to increased heat.
Hot temperatures are most likely going to ferment or spoil the nectar.
So, if you fail to replace the nectar during the hotter months, your hummingbirds will stay away from the nectar because of its awful taste and may never eat it again in the future.
It’s true that some birds see personal hygiene as a joke as they can eat and poop where they eat.
One great example is the common wood Pidgeon, who is possibly the biggest offender of the crime.
If you place your nectar in the locality where birds like this live, they will contaminate your nectar through their poops.
Tips For Providing Juicy Nectar For Hummingbirds
- If you want hummingbirds to keep returning to your property for more nectar, all you have to do is pay close attention to the information below.
Ensure to place the nectar in an appropriate hummingbird feeder. Many bird feeders out there are not designed to handle the high demand of nectar because of its sticky nature.
Therefore, get a feeder that can handle high traffic from birds.
- Also, ensure that your bird feeder is protected from sun rays before you place your nectar there because the heat from the sun can make the nectar go bad in a few hours, and you don’t want that.
- You need to ensure that the feeder is in a location that enjoys excellent shade and sun protection.
However, in as much as we don’t want the nectar to go stale, keeping nectar in a place that is always shaded can stop the birds from seeing the vibrant colors of the feeder.
Asides from that, the hummingbirds may not even notice what you’ve kept for them.
So the best thing to do is to place the bird feeder in a location where it will benefit equally from the shade and the sun.
- You should ensure that your bird feeder is always clean before you place nectar there; else, you’ll risk contaminating it.
- In all that you do, never allow yourself to be tempted to add fresh nectar supplies to old nectar juicy supplies.
- If you discover that you’re constantly trashing huge quantities of nectar, try to reduce the quantity you make available every time.
Furthermore, if you later discover that the hummingbirds are now visiting your feeder regularly to dine on the nectar, increase the amount of your offering.
Storing Nectar Properly
Many people who like hummingbirds make lots of nectar for the friendly birds who come to visit their feeders in their numbers.
You’ll understand this more if you have a massive flock of hummingbirds as your visitors.
Meanwhile, regardless of how many hummingbirds you’re able to attract because of the nectar, try not to make more than necessary.
However, if you end up making more than enough, store it in a refrigerator where it will take at least two weeks before it goes bad.
Although, you’ll still need to check the nectar regularly for signs of fermentation before you place it in your feeder.
How To Know If Nectar Is Bad?
Many people derive joy in feeding hummingbirds. However, it’s important to mention that feeding the birds is a good thing, but you shouldn’t endanger their lives in the process.
Hummingbird’s favorite food is nectar, and because it’s clear, you can easily assume that it’s fresh and nourishing for birds. But the fact remains that it can easily get spoilt like other bird foods.
So, how can one tell that nectar has gone bad and needs to be replaced?
Here Are The Dangers Of Sour Nectar
Nectar, as I mentioned above, is a mixture of water and sugar. However, once it becomes stale, it transforms into another thing entirely.
Once stale, the sugar breaks down into other forms of carbohydrates that’s less nourishing for hummingbirds and not easy to digest.
Once nectar gets stale, mold, bacteria and fungus will start to grow within it, and they can be harmful to the hummingbird once they eat it.
Not only that, the strong smell of the stale nectar can attract rats, insects, bears, and raccoons to the bird feeder and put the bird in harm’s way.
Also, stale nectar can become thick and crystallized.
Once this happens, and the birds are still eating it, the bad nectar can coat their feathers or bills and obstruct feeding ports to make it very hard for the hummingbirds to take a sip.
On the other hand, fresh nectar can never be a health risk to hungry hummingbirds because it will flow easily through the feeders, so the birds have their meal in peace.
What Are The Signs Of Bad Nectar?
- Clean and fresh nectar is usually transparent and clear, just like clean water. Ensure you don’t dye your nectar so you can tell when it goes bad.
- Sour nectar will have the following attributes;
- Milky or cloudy color that comprises white or black floating specs or spring-like structures.
- Strong offensive smell that can be moldy or sour.
- Fungus or mold has already started to grow around the feeding area or in the feeder.
- You’ll find drowned or floating insects within the nectar reservoir or trapped around the feeding areas.
- You’ll also find crystalized or sticky residue around the feeding area, especially if you have upside-down feeders.
Another significant sign that your nectar is stale is that the hummingbirds won’t go close to it, let alone drink it.
Although some other bird species might still take a bite off stale food once, there’s food scarcity, but the reverse is the case for hummingbirds.
They will avoid it like the plague.
Once you’ve noticed no bird traffic in your feeder, try to inspect it and ensure the nectar is still suitable for bird attraction and consumption. If the nectar has gone bad, replace it as soon as possible.
The Bottom Line
Hummingbirds are amazing creatures that deserve the best of everything. So if you want to attract them and hope they keep returning to your bird feeder, ensure that your source of attraction (Nectar) is always fresh.