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High-energy hummingbirds

#funfactfriday Did you know that Hummingbirds have some of the highest metabolic rates in the animal kingdom?

Rufous Hummingbird at a feeder

They need to eat as much as three times their body weight in insects and nectar every day to power their body; their heart rate can be over 200 beats per second and they take up to 250 breaths per minute! For a human to function on the same level of a humming bird, we would need to eat 150,000 calories per day. At night, hummingbirds have to enter a hibernation-like state called torpor so that they don’t starve while they sleep!

These incredible high caloric needs are why hummingbirds are such frequent visitors of people’s hummingbird feeders and it is also why it is so important to take care of feeders!

To keep feeders clean and safe:

  • Feeders must be emptied and cleaned about twice per week. This prevents deadly fungal growth in the feeders and also prevents the syrup from spoiling.

  • The best way to clean feeders is a dilute 1:10 bleach solution. Soak the feeder parts for 10 min, rinse very well and let air dry before refilling with syrup. The rinsing and air drying ensure that no bleach traces will be left on the feeder. If desired, you can alternate your cleanings- a once per week sanitizing with bleach and once per week hard scrubbing with a bottle-brush and the hottest water you can stand. If you're sure they won't warp, you can also put all pieces in the dishwasher!)

  • Make sure to only use plain white granulated sugar in a 1:4 ratio with water. All other types of sugars and sweeteners are not suitable and will likely harm the birds! Some sources may say that slightly stronger or weaker food may be used in colder or warmer weather, however this isn’t really necessary if you don't want to overcomplicate things.

  • NEVER add any sort of dye or colour to hummingbird food, no matter if natural or artificial.

And don't forget that regular bird feeders must be cleaned weekly too! Deadly outbreaks of conjunctivitis (eye disease), salmonella, and trichomoniasis in wild birds have been linked to dirty bird feeders so it is important to keep your feeders clean to keep birds safe! As seed feeders aren't filled with a sugary bacterial haven like hummingbird feeders, you can get away with sanitizing them once every two weeks.


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