Hummingbirds add a fun, sometimes comical element to a landscape with their high-speed aerial acrobatics. And because birdwatching can be a peaceful pastime, it’s no wonder that feeding hummingbirds is immensely popular. But, if you want to attract hummingbirds, you’ll need to use a hummingbird feeder that works.
Hummingbird feeders come in all shapes and sizes, and it can be challenging to know which one is the best. Since hummingbirds are highly mobile, curious birds, a suitable hummingbird feeder should be attractive and functional. It also has to withstand the elements, hold plenty of nectar, and fit the allotted space. You’ll get a chance to see reviews of some top picks, but first, keep reading to learn what characteristics make up the best hummingbird feeders.
- BEST OVERALL: Aspects HummZinger HighView Hanging Feeder
- BEST DECORATIVE: Grateful Gnome Hummingbird Feeder, Hand Blown Glass
- MID-SIZE PICK: More Birds Garnet Hummingbird Feeder
- WINDOW FEEDER PICK: Sherwoodbase Cuboid – Insect-Proof Window Feeder
Types of Hummingbird Feeders
Hummingbird feeders come in two standard forms; bottle feeders, and dish feeders. Both types are popular with bird watchers, and both are great choices. Read on to learn the difference between bottle- and dish-style hummingbird feeders and determine which will be best for you.
Bottle hummingbird feeders, also called inverted feeders, are essentially inverted bottles with a feeding port at the bottom. Nectar is held inside the container by the vacuum created by trapped air. These feeders come in an endless assortment of styles, from basic nuts-and-bolts functionality to high-end art.
Bottle feeders have relatively large nectar reservoirs compared with other feeder types, making them an excellent choice where large flocks of hummingbirds gather ahead of migration. It is easy to see from a distance when you need to refill the feeder because of its design. Depending on the particular style and materials, upright bottle feeders are more difficult to clean than basic dish-type feeders. If a tiny crack develops in the feeder, it may break the vacuum seal, causing a leak to develop. Extra protection may be required to prevent bees from feeding on bottle feeders.
Dish-style hummingbird feeders are also called saucer feeders, or tray feeders. They hold the nectar in a shallow bowl-shaped reservoir. Hummingbirds feed through ports in the cover.
Most dish feeders have an ant moat incorporated into the design, reducing the likelihood of pest problems. The simple design is easy to clean and fill, is bee-resistant, not likely to leak, and provides an open view of the hummingbirds as they feed. But since they have a smaller capacity than bottle feeders, you’ll need to refill dish feeders more often.
What to Look for When Buying the Best Hummingbird Feeder
There are hummingbird feeders of all shapes and sizes. Some are beautiful but not functional due to the difficulty of cleaning or filling them. Others may simply not capture the attention of hummingbirds. The best hummingbird feeders attract hummingbirds, hold plenty of nectar without leaking, provide a place for hummers to perch as they feed, protect the nectar from invading insects, and are simple to fill and clean.
Feeder size affects how often you will need to refill the container and how many hummingbirds can feed. There are a few ways to think about this. You should change the nectar every three to four days, to avoid spoilage. To avoid waste, the nectar should be nearly empty when it’s time to refill it. Also consider that hummingbirds can be quite protective of feeders, chasing away rivals, so to some extent, the more feeders available, the more hummingbirds you’ll get.
If your goal is to simply see a few hummingbirds throughout the summer, the smallest feeder filled regularly can make that happen. The most popular feeders are in the 16- to 32-ounce size range. Feeders of this size offer plenty of nectar for several days, with little waste when filling up. Plus, it is an adequate size to purchase for multiple feeding stations. Feeders larger than 32 ounces help satisfy the appetites of larger hummingbird populations.
Hummingbird feeders are made of either glass or plastic because these materials do not corrode. Additionally, they are easy to clean, durable, and affordable. Plastic hummingbird feeders are lightweight and inexpensive. They are a great choice for those new to feeding hummingbirds, those with strength or mobility impairments, classrooms, and children’s gardens. They resist cracking, but the material may fade, warp, or crack after several seasons due to UV exposure.
Glass hummingbird feeders are more substantial and more durable than plastic over the long term, although some glass feeders include plastic components like perches, covers, or feeding ports as well. Glass feeders can be easier to clean than plastic. Glass feeders also offer a greater diversity of aesthetics, from simple functionality to works of art.
Hummingbirds are highly color-sensitive. In nature, they are attracted to brightly colored pink, orange, yellow, and purple flowers. These colors would also be suitable for feeders, but they are especially attracted to red. Red is the best color for hummingbird feeders because it is the color that most consistently attracts hummingbirds.
While the color of the feeder is essential, the color of the nectar is not. Most natural flower nectar is colorless. There is no reason to use red-dyed nectar or to add food coloring to homemade nectar. Instead, use the feeder itself to provide a splash of red to attract the birds. The whole feeder does not need to be red, just the parts around the feeding ports.
One of the amazing characteristics of hummingbirds is their ability to do just about anything while in flight. Indeed they often feed while hovering in front of a flower or feeder. Perches are not necessary, but there are benefits to offering a feeder with a place to perch.
Hummingbirds need a place to rest, and if you provide a perch, they will use it. Some of the best views of hummingbirds are when they relax on a feeder perch. The feeder may also attract other birds like chickadees, goldfinches, orioles, or warblers if it includes a perch. If these added benefits are unimportant to you, a feeder without perches will work just fine.
Ants and other insects are attracted to the sugary nectar as well and will invade the feeder if given a chance. Ant moats prevent crawling insects from accessing the feeder by using a water barrier that they can’t cross. Simply fill the small reservoir with water, and they cannot pass it to feed on or contaminate the nectar.
Some hummingbird feeders have ant moats incorporated into the feeder body. Ant moats are also sold separately, for feeders made without them. Either way, using an ant moat is a good way to protect the nectar for the hummingbirds’ exclusive use.
Bees love nectar too. Bottle feeders are susceptible to bee invasions, while most dish feeders are bee-resistant. Bee guards create air space that prevents bees from feeding on the nectar inside a hummingbird feeder, while still allowing hummingbirds to reach the nectar with their long tongues. Many of the susceptible feeders come with bee guards, but some do not.
Our Top Picks
We have reviewed the most popular hummingbird feeders on the market by the biggest brands in bird feeding. We poured over styles, sizes, materials, and other features to find some of the best hummingbird feeders to bring birds to your yard. Keep reading for the picks.
Aspects HummZinger Highview 12 oz. Feeder is a dish-style hummingbird feeder made of unbreakable polycarbonate. Polycarbonate resists temperature and weather extremes and holds up to impacts that would break the glass. This feeder will last for many seasons.
The bright red cover on the Aspects HummZinger Highview Feeder attracts hummingbirds from a distance and is easily removed for quick, thorough cleaning. The reservoir holds plenty of nectar to feed hummingbirds for two to four days. Four feeding ports allow multiple birds to feed at once. A high view perch invites birds to rest comfortably as they feed, and offers an unobstructed view of the birds. The built-in ant moat and bee-resistant design protect the nectar from spoilage.
This feeder is small enough to use in a balcony container garden, or it works just as well for a large backyard habitat either singly or using several in a series of feeding stations. The simple design and durable, lightweight materials make the Aspects HummZinger HighView 12 oz. Feeder an excellent choice.
- Wide base offers plenty of feeding room
- Four feeding ports and perch ring
- Built-in ant moat to prevent infestation
- Does not attract bees or wasps
- Several nooks where mold could grow
Grateful Gnome Hand Blown Glass Feeders are individually handmade and unique. It takes a team of talented artisans working together to make each one. They incorporate beautiful colors that are the best at attracting hummingbirds. The hand-blown glass is sturdy, thick, and durable. The color is embedded in two layers of glass and will not fade or scratch.
The Grateful Gnome Hand Blown Glass Feeder holds 26 ounces of nectar. A rubber seal ring prevents leakage between the reservoir and the feeder base. Four flower feeding ports and a round perch allow hummers to feed comfortably. The design is simple to clean and to refill.
This feeder does not include an ant moat but the design is bee-resistant. Also note that this feeder must only be hand-washed. Do not put this feeder in the dishwasher.
- Unique handmade glass tower
- Rubber seal prevents leaks
- Four feeding ports and perch ring
- Optional ant moat hook attachment
- Handmade feeders might vary in shape and color
- Metal base could rust over time
The More Birds Garnet 20 oz Feeder is a classic glass bottle feeder with a modern hourglass shape. The clear glass makes it easy to monitor and fill the nectar and cleans up simply.
The 20-ounce reservoir holds plenty of nectar, without adding a lot of weight. The red top and base attract hummingbirds from far away. Seven flower-shaped ports with individual perches offer plenty of space for multiple birds to feed comfortably. The built-in ant moat and bee resistant design keep the nectar fresh for the birds.
The More Birds Garnet 20 oz Feeder is a great choice for year-round use. It is small enough to use in patio gardens but large enough to support significant populations of hummers. It holds plenty of nectar to feed hungry hummers for three to six days.
- Five feeding ports and perch ring
- Clear glass tower easily shows nectar levels
- Large ant moat on the top
- Plastic flower petals fall off easily
- Hard to open in the heat if nectar has dried up
The Sherwoodbase Cuboid 8 oz Feeder is a 2-in-1 dish feeder that can be mounted to a window by suction cups, or hung from a chain anywhere in the garden. The body features a durable polycarbonate plastic that resists heat, cold, and impacts. It will last for years. The convenient dish shape maximizes viewing opportunities and is naturally bee-resistant.
The Sherwoodbase Cuboid is designed with an integrated ant moat to protect against insects. It also features five feeding ports and plenty of perch space for multiple birds to feed simultaneously. This is a perfect hummingbird feeder for small homes, intimate garden spaces, and even classrooms. Hand wash with soapy water.
- Hangs from tree or attaches to windows
- Large ant moat around the feeder
- Five feeding ports on platform-style feeder
- Easy for hummingbirds to reach nectar when low
- Needs frequent refilling
- Plastic may not resist UV damage over time
To attract lots of hummingbirds to your yard, we recommend the Aspects HummZinger Feeder. It has a wide base that allows several birds to perch at once and will not attract bees or wasps. For a larger-capacity hummingbird feeder, consider the Grateful Gnome Hummingbird Feeder.
How We Chose the Best Hummingbird Feeders
These recommendations include different styles of hummingbird feeders: flat platform and tower style. Each product is made with the traditional bright colors that are known to attract hummingbirds. We narrowed our research to include feeders that have longer feeding ports and measures to prevent leaking nectar and avoid attracting bees and wasps.
Buyers can choose between a hand-blown glass bottle, traditional glass tower, or plastic platform. We even selected a feeder that can be attached to the window for an up-close view of feeding time. All of our recommendations can be hung to attract hummingbirds on a porch or under a tree. We also narrowed our research to choose feeders that have ant moats to prevent an infestation of pesky insects.
Now that you’ve had a chance to shop for the best hummingbird feeders, you may still have a few questions. Continue reading for answers to some frequently asked questions about feeding hummingbirds.
Q. Is glass or plastic better for a hummingbird feeder?
Glass hummingbird feeders are generally easy to clean and very durable. Plastic hummingbird feeders are subject to warping or cracking over time but are comparatively inexpensive. Both are acceptable to hummingbirds.
Q. Why do hummingbirds prefer red feeders?
Hummingbirds are highly attracted to the colors red and yellow. Either, or both colors are good choices for hummingbird feeders.
Q. Where is the best place to hang a hummingbird feeder?
Hummingbirds prefer feeders near sheltered places like trees, shrubs, or even tall perennials, where they can scavenge for other foods like spiders and natural nectar. Placing the feeder in a shaded location helps to reduce spoilage of the nectar.
Q. How should you clean your hummingbird feeder?
Once or twice per week, clean your hummingbird feeder with hot, soapy water. Liquid dish detergent works well. Rinse with cold water and allow to air dry before refilling.
Q. What should you feed hummingbirds?
Make your hummingbird nectar by mixing one part sugar with four parts water. Heat the water to boiling, then stir in the sugar. Turn off the heat and stir the water until the sugar completely dissolves. Allow the nectar to cool, then fill the hummingbird feeder. Do not add red dye or food coloring. Store extra hummingbird nectar in the refrigerator for up to a week.
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