Rich’s Backyard Birds: February 2016

Hey Bird Guy! I had to take down my hummingbird feeder because the ants are climbing up the shepherd’s hook and down into the feeder. Totally gross! Any ideas?
-P.P of Buckhorn.

One thing we know about ants, which we can use to our advantage, is that ants can’t swim. Therefore if you can put an ant mote filled with water hanging from the pole then hang your feeder from the mote, you win the battle. Ant motes are a simple solution to this long time problem. A few hummingbird feeders even have motes built in. Some people even have needed to put a mote on their seed feeders to stop ants. Many people like to use a seed blend containing dried fruit. This can attract ants just like your hummingbird nectar can. The good news is ant motes are very inexpensive. I happen to know a local backyard bird store which has motes for only $5.99. (Here’s a subtle hint: it’s Rich’s Backyard Birds in the Erindale Plaza)

Another issue some people have with their hummingbird feeders can be bees. Bees also like nectar. There are a few ways to conquer this issue. Bees are notoriously cheap. If you put up a sign saying “Nectar $1” they will likely go elsewhere. But if that doesn’t work, I suggest using a saucer style feeder or at least one with the openings for feeding facing up. Bees don’t have long tongues like hummingbirds do. By not filling the feeders all the way, the hummers can reach the food but the bees can’t. Presto! If you have one of the older style feeders with a tube descending below the feeder, this cannot be done. Saucer feeders also have the advantage of not dripping. The drips can attract both ants and bees. One more benefit of saucer style feeders is they are easy to fill and clean. Since nectar needs to be changed every two days in our area to keep it bacteria free, easy is a huge plus.