Why Won’t Hummingbirds Come to My Feeder?

Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

It’s a delight to have hummingbirds in your yard. But they don’t always show up. Is it possible that your hummingbird feeder is malfunctioning? Make sure you’re not doing anything that will cause hummingbirds to abandon our feeders. However, the first subject is timing.

Have you ever had a season where there were fewer hummingbirds visiting your feeders than the previous year and thought what am I doing wrong? You’re not alone, to be sure. It does not sound simple enough: hang a hummingbird feeder and watch them come.

When it comes to addressing this global issue, there are numerous easily recognized elements as well as some less evident ones.

Here are some reasons why won’t hummingbirds come to your feeder.

1. It’s the wrong season for it

In the summer, hummingbirds may visit. What makes you think this is the incorrect season? Each hummingbird species has its own characteristics. However, the majority of long-distance migrants follow a similar path.

Male hummingbirds leave Mexico in the spring and arrive on territory 1-2 weeks before females. In terms of weather, it’s still early spring, even if it’s not on the calendar.

It’s still possible to get snow or have cold temperatures at night. The finest feeding areas are taken by these early guys. Flowers and shrubs in feeding areas are about to blossom. They have a few elevated perches that they utilize as sentinels to keep other male hummingbirds out of their territory.

These are tiny territories. A hummingbird feeder may be included in a territory. You may assume that the male hummingbirds would arrive later when the weather is nicer and there are more flowers blooming.

However, by that time, the best areas have been taken by the older, more experienced males. You must arrive early if you want the finest location! You must be ahead of your competitors, but not so far ahead that you freeze or starve to death.

Female hummingbirds come a few days only after males in the springtime. They visit the locations with the most flowers. The dominating man will control these desirable locations. There is breeding going on.

The females subsequently depart the male’s area to construct a nest, lay and incubate the eggs, and care for the young in a forested location. She was on her own. Away from the men who are fighting.

Females may construct a nest in your forested backyard or in a yard with mature landscaping that provides shrubs and cover. That would be fantastic! If not, the young will explore the area and may locate your feeder after they hatch.

2. Hummingbird Oasis That Isn’t Attractive

Do you have a barren, dry, and waterless backyard? Why is it so difficult to photograph hummingbird activity?

Adult male hummingbirds use attractive and plentiful blooming backdrops to create their theatre while gearing up to grab the attention of a possible mate, just as men and women dress up to appear their best with the objective of catching the eye of a potential partner.

3. Use of incorrect nectar recipe

This is a straightforward procedure. However, some individuals seek to complicate things. Popular hummingbird nectar recipes are usually 1 scoop white refined table sugar, dissolved in 4 scoops of tap water is the mix to fill up your bird feeder.

No substitutes are allowed. Hummingbirds might be harmed by any variation of this recipe. Hummingbirds are unconcerned about what you consider to be healthier or more organic. Hummingbirds should never be fed honey.

You can buy pricey hummingbird food at the supermarket if you like. Sucrose (20%) will be listed in the ingredients. Table sugar is what you’re looking at. Food coloring should be avoided. Keep an eye out for the transparent nectar.

This is the Hummingbird Necter that I use and it’s really good so check it out

4. The Feeder could not be located

Hummingbird with Feeder

Hummingbirds need to be able to find their nectar source, and hummingbird lovers need to be able to watch and enjoy the feeding activity.

After purchasing hummingbird feeders, two instances of bad placement are losing them in dense heavy foliage or, even worse, putting them in an unattractive spot beneath your home’s eave. This may lead to the feeder being overlooked and undetected.

Regular visitors will be confused and discouraged if feeders are changed often. If you’re shifting locales, do so gradually. When hummingbirds go out in search of food, they need to be safeguarded from predators.

Hummingbird feeders hung from tall tomato cages near naturally blooming plants provide a suitable perch. When the birds approach the feeder, it also creates a less risky situation.

5. Hummingbird nectar that has been fermented or rotten

The disgusted look we make when cutting into an overripe tomato or retrieving a bottle of milk from the fridge that is over its expiration date is the same unpleasant look a hummingbird makes when drinking fermented or rotten nectar.

In order to avoid illness, our innate survival instincts advise and lead us away from these hazards.

A filthy or untidy hummingbird feeder filled with overly sweetened homemade nectar and left in direct sunlight for hours at a time is a common breeding ground for fermentation and bacterial growth.

6. Bees or Ants at the Feeder

Bees at hummingbird Feeder

Not only hummingbirds but also other insects, like the nectar you store in your hummingbird feeder. Ants, like bees, are always on the lookout for sugar in nectar. When they discover the nectar’s deliciousness, they will drink it in a matter of minutes.

Bird feeder makers, on the other hand, are well aware that ants and bees attack nectar and design their feeders appropriately. The nectar is kept away from the aperture of the feeder port by all hummingbird feeder manufacturers.

Only hummingbirds will have access to the nectar, and bees will be unable to get it. Hummingbirds, on the other hand, can readily reach the nectar with their large tongues. Also available are exterior bee guards, which may be utilized if you already own a hummingbird feeder that is regularly attacked by bees.

Ant moats are the finest method for preventing ants from getting the honey when it comes to ants. Ant moats are already attached to many hummingbird feeders. However, make sure to trim any leaves or branches that are in contact with your feeder. Ants may attempt to access your hummingbird feeder by climbing through the foliage.

Sugar and water are essential for bees and on a hot summer day, these two nutrients are extremely critical. The sight of a swarm of bees buzzing around a hummingbird feeder is a sad sight. It’s heartbreaking to see a swarm of aggressive bees swarms a feeder, preventing a patiently waiting hungry mouthed hummingbird from eating.

There are a few techniques to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders despite the fact that they are looking for food and water through no fault of their own. Yellow attracts bees, but red is perceived as dark by them.

Hummingbird feeders with all-red bases and blooms, for instance, will keep bees away while attracting hummingbirds. Bees and other undesirable guests will be drawn to homemade nectar if it is excessively sweet, such as 1 part sugar to 2 parts water instead of the required 1 part sugar dissolved in 4 parts water.

To keep bees away from your hummingbird feeder, reduce the sugar to water ratio to 1 part sugar to 5 parts water while making homemade hummingbird nectar.

Some feeders leak a little nectar, which falls on the ground underneath the feeder. As a result, a huge number of ants will congregate under the feeder. As a result, check to see whether your hummingbird feeder isn’t leaking.

Problem with obnoxious birds

male hummingbird

It’s not uncommon for an adult male hummingbird to notice and enjoy your hummingbird feeder. They then claim ownership of the feeder and drive away other hummingbirds that approach it. This is a frequent issue that may be easily solved by strategically installing numerous hummingbird feeders at a safe distance.

Place the feeders away from each other so that other birds can’t see the bully. Another option is to group several hummingbird feeders together. The hostile adult hummingbird will become calm since it will be outnumbered, and territory bullying will be avoided.

Seasonal Movement

Hummingbirds that migrate rely on the sun to know when to start their journey. Seasonal variations are shown by the quantity of daylight in a day. Their internal biological clock decides when it is appropriate to increase their fat supply and eat more enriched food in preparation for a long migratory journey.

Hummingbirds travel north in the spring to breed and lay eggs, then south in the fall to spend the winter in the tropics. During the initial wave of migrants, males migrate a week or two ahead of females and youngsters, who will bring up the second wave of migrants.

During their prime season, hummingbirds travel from April through September. Because hummingbirds are busy breeding throughout the month of June, there is less migration activity. The need for lay-over resting habitats along the way for successful migration causes seasonal changes inactivity.

It’s critical to maintain fresh feeders stocked, especially for migrants passing through the region.  Your tiny acts of kindness will be much appreciated by them as you assist them in their relocation.

Predators to Watch Out For

hummingbird predator

Your pleasant flying outside buddies is preyed upon by household pets such as your cat or dog. Animals have an inherent need to hunt and defend their area. Many hummingbirds will avoid the feeders just because of their presence, and they will seek out a safer option.

Hawks, roadrunners, orioles, crows, blue jays, frogs, fish, spiders, and praying mantis are some of the other common hummingbird predators.

When protecting their territory or breeding grounds, hummingbirds are fearless, attacking blue jays, hawks, and other big birds. In the worst-case situation, though, these same birds may swoop down and consume the hummingbird.

Hummingbirds have been known to get caught and ensnared themselves, becoming tired while trying for release, just like you could have unintentionally walked into a spider’s web. Spider silk has such a high tensile strength that most of the time the birds require humanitarian aid to break free.

A praying mantis, like other murderers, is patient and has been known to wait for hours before striking and catching the appropriate prey. They are known to rest on plants around hummingbird feeders and to wait patiently on a feeder.

Final Words

It’s discouraging to see an abundance of hummingbirds one year and a shortage the following. It’s difficult to say how long it takes a hummingbird to discover a feeder because nature has its own schedule. Keeping in mind when the hummingbirds move and supplying them with an appealing refuge, on the other hand, can greatly improve your chances.

Hanging feeders in a desirable place away from predators surrounded by attractive nectar-producing plants and giving a high vantage point for your hummingbird to undertake cross-traffic observation will attract hummingbird populations.


How often do hummingbirds take to come to the feeder?

You’re not going to install a feeder or plant a few flowers and have dozens of hummingbirds emerge out of nowhere. Hummingbirds may take days, weeks, or months to locate your yard and begin coming on a regular basis. They must be confident that the food sources you supply are reliable and constant.

Do hummingbirds no longer visit feeders?

It is critical to maintaining the freshness of the nectar. Hummingbirds may quit visiting your feeder for a variety of reasons. Hummingbirds are accustomed to sipping nectar directly from flowers and are not accustomed to stale drinks. Every one to six days, the nectar must be replenished.

Why aren’t the hummingbirds drinking from my feeder?

The nectar deteriorates or the feeders are filthy. If left out in the sun for too long, the sugar in hummingbird food will rapidly deteriorate. Some folks purchase a single big feeder so they don’t have to refill it as frequently.

What do hummingbirds fear?

Hummingbirds are little birds that are often startled by strong noises. They are easily frightened by loud music, youngsters, or barking dogs. Keep noise to a minimum if you wish to offer them a secure refuge.

Can a hummingbird feeder be placed next to a bird feeder?

You have the option to do so, but you really should not. Hummingbirds are tiny, timid little birds who like solitude and their own area, so give them some space away from other bird feeders to buzz around in.

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.

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