Hummingbirds are most known to prefer to visit a feeder and flowers as the sun rises and sets, usually early in the morning at dawn, and again before sunset at dusk. However, they do eat throughout most of the day, and can be seen near feeders sporadically in the daytime.
Many birders have noted that hummingbirds are likely to be the most active near feeders, however, during dawn and dusk. They typically rest at night but are very active and prolific eaters first thing in the morning, continuing gradually throughout the rest of the day too.
At dawn you’ll notice feeders to be at their busiest, where the hummingbirds gather to stock up on energy for the rest of their day. Your feeder will still remain busy in the afternoon, too, although the visits will be sparser and more sporadic as the birds travel around different food sources throughout the daytime.
At dusk, many hummingbirds will gather again to top up at feeders before resting for the night-time.
If you are a keen bird photographer, you are most likely to capture these birds in their element in early mornings or late afternoons, where they dedicate their time to eating near feeders.
Do Hummingbirds Feed at Night Time?
On occasion, some hummingbirds may feed at night, although most of them rest in the evening to preserve their energy for the next day.
If you do choose to keep your feeder up at night, be cautious of other creatures who might want to take advantage of the absence of the birds and destroy the feeders and eat the nectar in the night.
Many birders, therefore, opt for taking the feeder in at night time, however it is vital to ensure it is back up by the break of dawn for the birds to return to feeding.
What time of year do Hummingbirds visit feeders?
As hummingbirds feed primarily on nectar and small insects, spring is a time these birds are very active as flowers bloom and more insects are available. In the United States, hummingbirds are most likely to visit your feeder during the months of March through to September, during which time they are frequent visitors of residential neighbourhoods and backyard bird feeders.
Depending on where you live, some birders may be lucky and have hummingbirds visit their yard year-round. In some locations, you may only see hummingbirds in the high summer seasons during their migration period – which is actually the period that these birds are most active at feeders.
Because these birds are breeding throughout much of the summer, they require plenty of energy, and supplying nectar at feeders during this time is a great way to attract them to your yard.
Weather variations can play a big factor in the activity of these birds, though. It is a good idea to put out a feeder around 3 weeks before the hummingbirds are expected to migrate in the Spring, as they might arrive sooner due to weather patterns.
It may help to look out for early blooming flowers, as well as the arrival of other migratory birds, to help indicate whether or not hummingbirds are likely to arrive earlier than expected. Similarly, as hummingbirds tend to migrate on their own, it might be a good idea to keep the feeders out for a couple of weeks after fall migration.
What do Hummingbirds eat?
Hummingbirds require high-energy food like nectar, small insects, and small fruit.
As mentioned, hummingbirds are truly prolific eaters and require heaps of energy. One of their main sources of energy comes from sugar, and they are likely to consume over half of their body weight in sugar every day!
Their main supply of sugar comes from nectar, found in flowers and in man-made sugar water solutions in feeders. They are also known to feed on the juice of small fruit in garden bushes and trees, as well as tree sap on some rare occasions.
In regard to their dietary needs, many people are often mistaken to believe that hummingbirds survive solely on sugar water from wild nectar.
Whilst they do consume a lot of sugar water, they also need the protein that is obtained by eating small insects.
They do also tend to get rather particular about the type of nectar they consume, preferring nectar that is only partially concentrated.
The precise number of insects these birds consume daily can vary, but it can be up to a few hundred every day! Their preferred small insects can include ants, spiders, beetles and wasps.
Your backyard alone could provide enough sources of food for hummingbirds for an entire summer, as long as you maintain a constant supply of sugar water in feeders and have enough insects lying around in the ground.
How to maintain a hummingbird feeder?
It is important to clean the feeder two or three times a week (daily in hot weather) and refill it with a new sugar solution as it ferments quickly and grows thick.
Stale nectar may turn the hummingbirds away from your garden and, more vitally, mould that grows on stale nectar could potentially be fatal to the birds. Therefore, when cleaning, it is important to cover all areas of the feeder to rid it of any potential mould or old, sticky nectar (this can be done easily with hot water).