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How Often to Change a Hummingbird Feeder?

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hummingbird feeder with wasp

One of the joys of summer is putting out hummingbird feeders and watching the small birds flutter to them to eat. But if you’re putting out a hummingbird feeder, you need to do it responsibly, which means changing the nectar twice a week to keep it clean and healthy for the birds.

What happens if you don’t keep up with the changes, and how do you clean a hummingbird feeder when the time comes? We answer those questions and more for you here, so you know exactly what you need to do to keep the hummingbirds coming back year after year.

hummingbird divider

How Often Should You Change a Hummingbird Feeder?

The exact cleaning schedule for your hummingbird feeder depends on the weather. If the weather is cool, you only need to clean it about once a week. However, during warm weather, you want to up the cleaning schedule to twice a week.

If the current weather in your area is a bit up and down, it’s always better to play it safe. We recommend cleaning the hummingbird feeder twice a week if the weather hits the mid-60s, even if it’s only for a few days of the week.

hummingbird on hummingbird feeder

Image Credit: marcellodamico0, Pixabay

What Happens If You Don’t Clean a Hummingbird Feeder?

If a hummingbird eats from a dirty feeder, it can cause a condition known as candidiasis. This is an infection passed through mold and fungi, and it can swell up the hummingbird’s tongue to the point that they can’t eat. When this happens, it can kill the hummingbird, which isn’t something that you’re looking to do when you put out a feeder for them!

So, if you don’t have time to clean out the feeder, at least take it down; you could be saving a hummingbird’s life in the process.

How to Disinfect a Hummingbird Feeder

You don’t need to do much to keep a hummingbird feeder clean: Just rinse it out with hot tap water!

If you need something stronger, you can use a weak vinegar-and-water mixture, but don’t overdo it. Adding too many chemicals or too strong of a cleaning solution can do more harm than good if you don’t get all the cleaning solution out.

For the same reason, you should avoid using dish soaps, as these are notorious for leaving behind small amounts of residue that can sicken a hummingbird.

Just run hot water through the feeder for 30 to 60 seconds, ensuring that it washes out everything in the feeder. You can leave residual water in there when adding new nectar.

hummingbird feeder

Image Credit: Paul Brennan, Pixabay

Is Homemade Nectar Better for Hummingbirds?

Yes! Homemade nectar has quite a few advantages over the store-bought variety, including that there are no chemicals in the formula, it’s easier to clean, and it’s more affordable!

Even better, it’s easy to make, as all you need to do is mix one part sugar with four parts water until it completely dissolves. Since you should be changing the hummingbird feeder twice a week under most conditions, taking the time to make your own hummingbird nectar makes it far easier to keep up.

Do Hummingbirds Come Back to the Same Feeder Every Year?

Hummingbirds have a great memory, so it’s not uncommon for the same hummingbirds to come back to the same feeders.

If you keep your hummingbird feeders out, clean, and fully stocked throughout the breeding season, you should get more hummingbirds each year.

hummingbird dividerFinal Thoughts

It’s fun to watch hummingbirds visit your feeders from spring to fall, but if you’re going to keep out the feeders for the birds, you need to ensure that you’re doing it the right way.

Change the nectar in the feeders regularly to keep the hummingbirds alive, healthy, and coming back for more year after year!

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Featured Image Credit: Ammit Jack, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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