Hungry Hungry Hummingbird

We have a small hummingbird feeder on the back porch. It’s about an inin inside diameter. Yesterday afternoon returned again and again, and sucked out about an inch of the liquid. No way something the size of my thumb could consume that much! Did it? Or was it feeding chicks somewhere?

Are there ants on the ground under the feeder? My hummingbird feeder often drips during use.

Also, keep in mind that more than one bird is likely consuming, and they come back every three minutes to feed.

The metabolism of these creatures is probably the highest for any warm-blooded animal, so yes they’ll go through your nectar bottle like crazy.

You may be seeing more than one bird. At sunset we have eight or ten of the little suckers at our feeder. :smiley:

Yellow jackets raided mine in the woods, too.

First of all, there is the possibility that you were seeing more than one bird. Often there are many more hummers coming to a feeder than you think. Did it have individually distinctive markings? (I presume it was a female.)

Remember that the food is mostly water. Hummingbirds have a very high pass-through rate, and excrete the water in their food very rapidly. So it wouldn’t be difficult for a hummer to consume a large amount of liquid in a short period of time since the only part they are retaining is the sugar.

It would be possible for the hummer to be feeding young, but hummers feed their chicks largely on insects because the growing young need protein, which nectar lacks. (They do feed them some nectar.)

We make hummingbird/oriole nectar in 12-cup batches. At the height of the season, after the females have arrived (about 2 weeks after the males in a normal year), they will go through that amount in about 2-1/2 days. This year they aren’t consuming as much, and I attribute that to our bizarre early spring. There are a lot more plants in bloom than there usually are at this time of year.

Ruby Throated little bastards spend time in Coasta Rica when it is the Dead of Winter here, spending all their time on the beach with tiny little drinks with itty bitty umbrellas in them and attack my windows if I don’t have the feeders filled in Arkansas in May.

Screw 'em.


Hummingbirds regard our place as a buffet. There are at least a dozen flowering plants hanging from baskets alongside the feeder. Don’t like geraniums? Try the heliotrope.

The wife won’t let me make the nectar with Red Bull. :frowning:

I just want to see if the birds react like the mosquitos in the old Tabasco commercial.

Q: Do you know why hummingbirds hum?

A: Because they don’t know the woids! N’yuk n’yuk n’yuk!

I’d be afraid to go outside.


No yellow jackets in the yard yet. Yet.

No, I’ve never seen ants at my house. Yes, the feeders do drip; but not that much. (Unless you knock your head into them.)

It’s possible. Usually if I see more than one bird they’re in pairs or else one quickly follows the other. This appeared to be one bird that returned every few minutes. Of course the screen door mutes some detail. To me this bird looked like ‘a hummingbird’. ([Miss Swan] He look like a man.) There was one or two the other day though that were striking because they appeared to have metallic red throats.