Rufous Hummingbirds arrive at my house (north coast of
Oregon) on or about February 22. Further south on the Oregon Coast they
can be expected as early as the 15th of February. Arrival in the Willamette
Valley and Puget Sound occurs in the first weeks of March. Males arrive
first usually a week before females. Males also leave first, most having
already headed to the south by June.
The feeder juice should be replaced at least once a week, more often if the average temperature runs over 70°F. You also need to watch for clouding. Clouding indicates that the juice is fermenting. If the juice shows signs of fermenting, take it down immediately and boil everything again.
1. Bring 4 cups of water to a full boil.
2. Add 1 cup of granulated white sugar. Stir until completely dissolved.
3. Bring to a boil.
4. Allow to cool and fill the feeder
The addition of red food coloring is unnessesary and some sources will tell you unhealthy for hummingbirds. You should never use unrefined sugar, brown sugar, honey, dextrose (glucose), or maltose. Sugar substitutes like saccharine or nutrisweet should not be used either. Many tests have been done on hummingbird sugar preferences and the results are conclusive. Hummingbirds want sucrose... plain old ordinary white, refined table sugar.
Cane sugar vs Beet sugar- There is some evidence that the source of the sugar may make a difference. Most of the evidence is anecdotal, but from reliable observers. Since sucrose (the molecule that we call sugar) is the same in both products, the difference must certainly be in the residues of either the refining or storing process. Bargain brand sugars also (apparently) cut their product with other sugars like glucous and fructose and hummingbirds can taste the difference. At any rate, make your hummingbird juice using cane sugar for best results.
Batches of juice may be made up in advance and kept in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Howell, S.G. 2002. Hummingbirds of North America. Academic Press, San Diego.
Kress, Stephen W. 1995. The Bird Garden. D.K. Books. London.
Stokes, Donald & Lillian Stokes. 1989. The Hummingbird Book. Little, Brown and Co. Boston.
Tyrell, Esther Q. 1985. Hummingbirds: their life and behavior. Crown Publishers. New York.
Williamson, S.L. 2001. Hummingbirds of North America. Houghton-Mifflin, Boston.