With their beautifully iridescent feathers and astoundingly rapid flight, hummingbirds captivate birdwatchers and homeowners alike. Many people put up hummingbird feeders to attract these interesting little birds. However, hummingbird feeders can sometimes attract other types of birds as well. Even those with a mindset of "the more the merrier" generally frown upon other birds driving away their prized hummingbirds.
How to Keep Birds Away From the Hummingbird Feeder
The task of keeping other birds away from your hummingbird feeder can prove a daunting one. Nectar contains plenty of energy, and several species of birds like to take advantage of hummingbird feeders for this reason. You can often find fruit-loving orioles, crafty woodpeckers and opportunistic house finches drinking the nectar from hummingbird feeders.
But how to keep birds away from the hummingbird feeder? You can provide food sources for the other birds, use hummingbird feeders the other birds can't land on, or a combination of both.
Provide Other Feeders to Use Instead
If you're feeding hummingbirds, you're probably not averse to other birds taking up residence in your yard – you just want to keep your little hummingbird friends around at the same time. That's why providing feeders for your nectar-stealing neighbors is one of the best options to keep the hummingbirds around.
Determine which bird species are pilfering the hummingbird nectar, and provide them with a specific feeder of their own. For example, orioles love to feed on fruit as well, and bird feeders designed for orioles often provide locations for nectar and fruit. Woodpeckers, another common culprit, generally prefer feeding on suet, so providing suet feeders for woodpeckers to utilize can help deter them from eating out of hummingbird feeders.
Use a Hummingbird Feeder Without a Perch
Another option to keep other bird species off of your hummingbird feeder is to use a feeder that has no perching rail. Hummingbirds are the only species of bird that can hover in midair; other birds should not be able to feed from a hummingbird feeder that doesn't have anywhere for them to land.
A combination of a hummingbird feeder without any perching and providing other feeding options is typically the best route to keep other birds from stealing your hummingbird nectar and driving away your hummingbirds.
When These Tactics Just Aren't Working
Sometimes things can go wrong, even when you're doing everything right. If you've provided other feeding options and switched to perch-less hummingbird feeders, and you're still struggling with birds stealing from your hummingbird feeders, you might need to try a few other options.
The first move is to ensure your feeders are separated by plenty of distance so that the birds don't just hop over to the hummingbird feeder after enjoying some fruit or suet. You might also encounter birds holding onto the top of the hummingbird feeder and leaning down to drink the nectar. If this is the case, you can use a baffle device to keep the birds from being able to reach the nectar.
Hummingbird Feeder Safety
On a final note, it's important to remember that safety is the most important element in any bird feeding situation, hummingbird or not. For example, that popular red-colored nectar you often see sold with hummingbird feeders? Most people agree that you shouldn't feed that to them at all! Some believe that red dye could pose a danger to hummingbirds and suggest that you create your own nectar.
Mix one part sugar to four parts water until the sugar has dissolved – and now you've created safe and simple nectar! Always store the extra nectar in the refrigerator and clean and refill the feeders every other day to prevent bacteria and mold buildup.
About the Author
Marina Somma is a freelance writer and animal trainer. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Marine and Environmental Biology & Policy from Monmouth University. Marina has worked with a number of publications involving animal science, behavior and training, including animals.net, SmallDogsAcademy and more.
Dynamic Graphics Group/Dynamic Graphics Group/Getty Images