The Healing Magic of Hummingbirds for Creatives:
How To Set Up Your Feeder, Whip Up A Batch of Sugar Syrup and Let the De-Stressing Begin
By Thea Fiore-Bloom, Ph.D.
Put up a hummingbird feeder and you’ll not only be helping hummers, you’ll be helping yourself.
Because as Terry Masear author of The Fastest Thing on Wings once told me:
“Hummingbirds are so magical to look at they give people who watch them a spiritual boost, a feeling that there is light and life and hope.”
This hope and magic bird stuff is actually backed by science.
A recent study put out by the American Institute of Biological Sciences suggested that the more birds people saw in an afternoon the lower their reported levels of anxiety and/or depression.
We creatives are especially sensitive to chaos, tension, and political infighting. We could all use a “nature intervention” to help us stay grounded so we can navigate through this charged time with intelligence and calm.
Why not try putting up a hummingbird feeder?
Or give one as a gift to a gentle friend — before the next election :).
Everyone I have given a simple feeder to that has put it up, has been irrationally excited and appreciative of the natural magic it has brought to their window.
You’ll be surprised at how inexpensive (like ten bucks) and how easy (like 10 minutes) it is to set up a feeder.
So let’s dive into the 4 quick steps ornithologists and hummingbird rescuers say you’ll need to take to help (you) and your area hummers thrive.
First Step — Pick Your Feeder
You don’t need a fancy feeder. Simple is best.
Buy a feeder where the base comes off because those kinds of feeders are easy to clean.
Choose a feeder where hummingbirds can perch while drinking. Several ornithologists, I spoke to agree with me that the “First Nature 3051” is great. It has a seating rail, is easy to clean and is only about 10 bucks online.
Don’t forget to pick up an inexpensive set of wee brushes to clean out the plastic openings the hummingbirds sip the nectar through.
Speaking of nectar, it’s so simple to make.
Second Step — Make Your Food. Recipe For the Secret Sauce Hummingbirds Love
“Just use 4 parts hot water to one part white sugar. It’s the closest thing to what they are drinking in the wild,” says Kurt Leuschner, Professor of Natural Resources and Field Ornithology at College of the Desert.
“You don’t even have to boil the water. Hot tap water is sufficient to dissolve the sugar.” (Let the water cool before pouring in the feeder).
Leuschner points out you should NOT use sugar in the raw, brown sugar or honey. You may think it’s better for hummers but those sugars can get stuck in the crop (throat) of hummingbirds and cause them big problems.
You also don’t need the red liquid sold in Home Depot or in your fancy-schmancy garden center.
“Red-dyed liquid food is one of the biggest frauds on the market. Hummingbirds don’t even like it. Avoid it for the same reason we had a red dye scare in human foods,” says Masear. “Not only is it not necessary, but the chemicals it contains could be harmful to the hummingbirds.”
I heat filtered water in my tea kettle and make a big batch of hummingbird nectar every two weeks or so and keep the extra in a mason jar in the fridge. That makes refills easy.
Third Step — Placement. How to Put Your Feeder in The Perfect Spot
It’s totally cool to put the feeder right up close to your window.
“Super close is okay, 20 feet away is okay, but 5 -10 feet away is not good. Hummingbirds can slam into windows when they’re trying to escape a predator like a Cooper’s hawk,” says Leuschner.
The other thing to keep in mind about placement is this: those little flying jewels we love are actually territorial badasses.
If you are lucky enough to have a yard Leuschner recommends you maximize the number of hummingbirds using your yard by spreading feeders out, placing each out of the sightline of other feeders.
Like at opposite ends of your home.
Final Step — Avoid This Mistake To Maintain the Magic
Want to know the real secret to attract and keep hummingbirds around?
Fresh sugar water.
“People call me and say, ‘My feeder has been out for a month and I still don’t have a hummingbird,’” says Masear.
And I say: ‘Hello! Hummingbirds are attracted to fresh sugar water. You should change the water every 2-3 days in hot, sunny locations.’ With the high temperatures, feeders need to be kept almost impeccably clean.”
If the water is cloudy or you see mold, take the feeders inside or change the water right away. Masear warns that mold can cause deadly fungal infections in the throats of hummingbirds.
Just clean out your feeder with hot soapy water and a little brush every few days. If you do get mold, use a diluted bleach solution to whisk it away.
Kids love to feed and protect hummers. Let them in on the whole process if possible.
And Don’t Forget the Patience…
Don’t worry if it takes a few days or even a few weeks for hummingbirds to find your feeder.
If you want to boost your bird (and butterfly) attraction power you can try planting a pot of red cardinal flower, red trumpet vine, or butterfly bush next to your hummingbird feeder.
I bet you’ll find it was all worth the trouble, if for one reason alone.
Because it’s such a breathtaking moment when you spot the very first hummingbird at your own feeder.
I bet you’ll gasp with wonder. Or want to make art.
Other Relaxing Resources
If you liked this piece or want more ideas on how you can best let go of stress and come back home to yourself and your art, check out these other Charmed Studio posts:
Check out The Charmed Studio’s Mostly Free Resources for Artist’s Page to get a link to my favorite free meditation app.
Do you love hummingbirds? Have a feeder? Got questions? Let me know in the Comments below. :