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Attracting Hummingbirds and Orioles

HummZinger Hummingbird Feeder
Ruby-throated hummingbirds enjoy a sweet drink.


Sweets for the Sweet

In May, we begin to see the arrival of hummingbirds, orioles and warblers. The beautiful but elusive warblers are generally happy within the safe cover of trees to provide a healthy diet of insects, but hummingbirds and orioles will come to gardens and feeders if we provide what they love most.

Sugar Highs for Hummingbirds and Orioles

First, let’s agree on two facts:

  1. Mostly everyone appreciates the magic of hummingbirds and wants them in their gardens.
  2. Hummingbird feeders can be frustrating when they leak, deteriorate, attract ants and wasps and are difficult to clean.

So let’s work through this:

Cheap plastic feeders deteriorate quickly and no one wants disposable single-season feeders, which is why we like that the Hummzinger, made from a special UV-protected plastic, will last for many years.

The best styles of feeders are designed in a saucer style as they don’t leak. (While glass bottle feeders with metal ports are available, they are often more appreciated for their aesthetic design than for practicality, as gravity invites leaking and subsequent rusting – be sure to look for high-quality designed and made glass and metal feeders unless you only want them as garden decoration.)

The Aspects brand Hummzinger is saucer-style and the most popular in our shop, available in three sizes. Several design features of the line are appreciated when keeping the food and feeder safe for these high-energy birds, including:  

  • The top pops off, making the feeder inside and the lid fully accessible for cleaning. Some even come with a small bottle brush for cleaning ports.
  • They also have a curved top. This means that the nectar doesn’t come through the feeding ports, so they are less attractive to wasps.
  • One version has an option to add nectar guards. Birds can push their beak through the guard, but wasps can’t. (It’s recommended to let the birds get used to the feeder before putting these on.)
  • Saucer style feeders also come with ant moats. It’s a cup that holds water. Ants can’t swim so they can’t cross this barrier. Interesting side note about ants. If they find food, they leave a scent trail telling other ants it’s a trail worth following. If there is no food, they’ll leave a scent trail saying “nothing to see (or eat) here”. Moats are also sold separately.

Now is the Season

The best way to get hummers is to get your feeder out early. May 1st is a good time. The food needs to be changed weekly and the feeder cleaned weekly as well. More often in warm weather.

Customers sometimes tell us that hummers won’t use new feeders. They keep going to the old feeder. I like to say it’s like going to your favourite restaurant. You keep going back. My suggestion is to leave the old feeder out, but empty. Hang it next to the new feeder. Eventually they’ll find it.

And lastly, add plants to your garden that are attractive to hummingbirds including bee balm, fuchsia, cardinals flower, climbing beans and hanging geraniums. 

Attracting Orioles

Orioles can be a bit more shy to come to our feeders; possibly because there are ample flower blossoms around to satiate them.

Orioles also enjoy sugar nectar but also enjoy sweet orange halves, meal worms and bird berry jelly. We carry a wide variety of feeders available depending on what you’d like to feed them. Follow some of the same tips listed above including getting the feeder out early and keeping it clean and refreshed. Even the Orioles passing through will enjoy an energy drink; they may even hang around for a couple of weeks. If you’re lucky they may stay and nest nearby. They like tall deciduous trees so if you have tall maples you may get orioles.

It’s always worth it to at least have a refilling station for these beautiful birds who have travelled so many thousands of miles to come home to Canada to start a family.

Happy Hummingbird Season!