Bird Watcher's General Store

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Keep Hummingbird Feeders Clean

Dear Bird Folks,

I hear that it is best to clean out hummingbird feeders every few days. But I’m only here on weekends. Is it still OK to leave my feeder out for a week without cleaning?

– Maggie, Dennis


Hi Maggie,

More hummingbird questions? It must be July. No, Maggie, it is not OK to leave your feeders out all week unattended. First of all, like I said a zillion times already, we feed the birds for our own enjoyment. If we are not around to enjoy them, then it is pointless to feed them. The food that we put in humminbird feeders is sugar and water. The sugar ferments in just a few days. If not cleaned regularly, a black, ugly mold will form on your feeder. (All you lazy people out there know exactly what I’m talking about.) The black mold is not only hard to clean, it can be harmful to the birds.

Also, sugar water will attract other creatures that love to crawl into a hummingbird feeder and die. It’s not uncommon to find dead bugs, bees and the occasional black bear stuck inside your feeder. If these creatures aren’t cleaned out, the hummers could abandon your feeder and the dead bears will attract jackals.

Don’t despair, Maggie, even if you can’t properly maintain a feeder, you could always plant a selection of colorful flowers. Flowers are a hummingbirds food source of choice. By offering an assortment of flowers, you might get hummers without ever putting out a hummingbird feeder.

However, if you don’t have enough time to even grow flowers, perhaps you should give up attracting real birds all together and get yourself a nice flock of plastic pink flamingos. Plastic flamingos don’t require any maintenance and eat very little. Just be careful not to take them across the border into Brewster. Brewster has some pink issues that have yet to be resolved.