How to Choose the Best Hummingbird Feeder

by | Reviews

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Spring and summer are right around the corner, and for many of us that bring an exciting, migratory flurry of color and energy known as hummingbirds.

Choosing the best hummingbird feeder can be the difference between attracting entire families of hummingbirds to your yard and attracting one or two.

Not sure what to fill the feeder with? Be sure to check out our easy hummingbird food recipe. It only takes two ingredients that you already have in your kitchen, no fancy dyes or additives.

Once you have the best hummingbird feeder for your needs, fill it with your freshly-made nectar and keep your ears open for the happy buzz of hummingbird wings.

In this article, HerbSpeak will review the best hummingbird feeders for 2021 and present you with our top choices for the best budget, quality, and design option available. Additionally, we also cover several tips for attracting hummingbirds, as well as how to select a hummingbird feeder for your needs.

What is the Best Hummingbird Feeder on the Market?

This review will include pros and cons of several different feeders on the market, with different styles and materials, number of ports and amount of nectar they can hold. The best hummingbird feeder on the market, however, is the one that works best for your needs. In the table above, you can see our recommendations for the best hummingbird feeders ranked in several categories, from best budget, to best quality, and best design.

If you aren’t sure which feeder to try, keep scrolling down and you’ll see some tips on how to choose the best hummingbird feeder that is right for your needs.

Do Hummingbirds Prefer Certain Types of Feeders?

Hummingbirds don’t care about what style or material your feeders are made from. The birds are classically attracted to bright reds and deep pink colors, however, as many of the nectar flowers they feed on in the wild are colorful. (1) If you want to attract hummingbirds to your yards, there are plenty of ways you can help them thrive, making your backyard their favorite spot.

“to really get hummingbirds to stop in your yard, make sure that you have plenty of water sources (fountains are great) and shade, where hummingbirds like to rest.”

When choosing a hummingbird feeder, it is always important to be mindful of your needs as well – ease of cleaning, material preference, and features such as ant moats and nectar guards. Hummingbird feeders are designed to allow hummingbirds to feed easily from the nectar ports, so you don’t need to worry about if they are able to access the nectar unless you are making a feeder from scratch.

The Best Hummingbird Feeders of 2021 Reviewed:

TRAY

BRAND

NECTAR CAPACITY

NUMBER OF PORTS 

MATERIAL

OUR RATING

BEST DEAL

TOP CHOICE

Red Bottle Feeder

Bolite

22 Oz

5 Ports

Glass

STYLE CHOICE

Cactus Top-Fill Feeder

Perky Pet

32 Oz

5 Ports

Glass

BUDGET CHOICE

Hummingbird Feeder Set of 2

First Nature

32 Oz

10 Ports

Plastic

Window Feeder

Aspects

8 Oz

3 Ports

Plastic

Blue Egg Glass Feeder

Grateful Gnome

36 Oz

4 Ports

Glass

HummZinger Highview Feeder

Aspects

12 Oz

4 Ports

Plastic

Antique Glass Bottle Feeder

Perky Pet

10 Oz

4 Ports

Glass

Copper and Glass Feeder

Nature's Rhythm

28 Oz

6 Ports

Glass

8 Ounce Aspects Hummingbird Feeder – Window-view Jewel Box

This hummingbird feeder is a great option for those who might not have a lot of backyard space, but still want to enjoy the annual migrations of colorful, energetic hummingbirds. This 8-ounce hummingbird feeder is on the small side but makes up for it with an easy-to-clean, hinged interior and features a suction-cup backing to allow you to place the nectar reservoir directly onto your window.

This feeder features a detachable ant moat which can be filled with water to prevent ants from getting to the nectar, and the raise flower ports prevent rainwater from filling the container, helping you maintain the right ratio of sugar to water to keep hummingbirds healthy.

Alternatively, if you are looking for the best hummingbird feeder in regular designs, but like the idea of having a window feeder, you can also purchase a window hanger which works for hummingbird feeders as well as regular birdseed feeders.

Grateful Gnome 36-Ounce Glass Feeder

Glass – 4 Ports – 36 Oz

This beautiful glass hummingbird feeder holds an astonishing 36-ounces of nectar and comes with an additional ant moat, brush for cleaning, and hemp rope to hang the feeder. The chrome finish sports colorful flower ports with perches for weary hummingbirds and the bright colors will help attract the buzzing birds.

This bottle-style feeder features a leak-proof rubber ring at the bottom to help prevent accidental leakage, even as the product ages. The glass is durable and strong; however, many people have pointed out that it is not hand-blown glass despite being advertised as such. That said, their customer service is highly responsive and takes complaints and replacement needs seriously.

Perky Pet Antique 10-Ounce Glass Bottle Feeder

Glass – 4 Ports – 10 Oz

This antique bottle-style hummingbird feeder is a great addition to any garden. The 10-ounce reservoir is perfect for daily nectar changes and the 4 ports provide ample space for hummingbirds to feed.

This hummingbird feeder does not come with any perches, but comes in a variety of bottle colors to help you attract hummingbirds. This feeder is easy to hang with a sturdy wire attachment at the top of the bottle. The bottle twists out of the copper-colored base, making it easy to clean with a flexible scrub brush.

Budget Friendly: First Nature Hummingbird Feeder 32-Ounce Set of 2

Plastic – 10 Ports – 32 Oz

This two-pack of hummingbird feeders are a good choice for those who are looking for budget-friendly hummingbird feeders. These feeders are made of plastic from the cap to the base, meaning it may warp over the years and must be washed without hot water.

Each feeder includes and S-hook for easy hanging and a ring-style perch for weary hummingbirds. The 32-ounce reservoir is useful for areas where hummingbirds are plenty, and 10 nectar ports gives hummingbirds plenty of options.

It is important to note that since hummingbirds are territorial, you are not likely to see the feeder busy with hummingbirds even with the higher number of ports.

Top Choice: Bolite Red 22-Ounce Glass Bottle Feeder

Glass – 5 Ports – 22 Oz

The Bolite elixir bottle hummingbird feeder is tinted red to give you the visual appeal of red hummingbird nectar without having to add unnecessary dyes to the nectar itself. The copper-colored plastic base compliments the red color, making it a stylish choice for any backyard. The 22-ounce reservoir is perfect for refilling nectar every other day in high traffic areas.

Aspects HummZinger Highview 12-Ounce Dish Feeder

Plastic – 4 Ports – 12 Oz

The Aspects HummZinger hummingbird feeder is made to hang from a central stem. The dish-style reservoir sits underneath the feeding ports which provide hummingbirds with easy access to the nectar inside.

A ring-style perch is attached to the feeder, giving the birds an easy place to rest while they feed, as well as a great view of the hummingbirds from any angle. The 12-oz capacity is perfect for low-traffic areas or for those who are able to change hummingbird nectar every day.

The dish-style reservoir comes apart quickly and is easy to clean with strong polycarbonate material that is resistant to cracking and heat.

Stylish Choice: Perky Pet 32-Ounce Cactus Top-Fill Hummingbird Feeder

Glass – 5 Ports – 32 Oz

This Perky Pet hummingbird feeder adds a fun pop of color to any garden with a cactus-style glass bottle feeder. 5 bright purple flower ports are attached to the base with removable perches to accompany them, making it the perfect feeding station for weary hummingbirds. Each port is tapered to help keep bees out of the nectar, removing the need for additional bee guards.

The bright green bottle comes apart for easy cleaning, and one major feature that sets this feeder apart from others is its ability to be top-filled. Simply pour in new nectar once your feeder has been cleaned.

Nature’s Rhythm 28-Ounce Copper and Glass Hummingbird Feeder

Glass – 6 Ports – 28 Oz

This tastefully stylish hummingbird feeder features 6 colorful ports with bee guards and a built-in ring-style perch. The glass and copper finish is perfect for blending in and adding style to any garden, while the pitched roof helps protect both the nectar and the birds from harsh elements such as rain or direct sun.

The glass bottle features a wide-mouth base for easy cleaning and all parts of the feeder are easy to pull apart and put back together during your regular cleaning and nectar changes.

Is Glass or Plastic Better for Hummingbird Feeders?

Overall, glass is the typically preferred option for hummingbird feeders because there are no worries about BPA and this material is much easier to clean than others.

Glass hummingbird feeders, with the exception of hand-dyed or specialty feeders, are dishwasher safe, saving you time and energy when cleaning the feeder. This is a must if you are busy or not able to hand-wash the feeder with every nectar change. For those without a dishwasher, glass feeders are easier to hand-wash than plastic feeders, as well.

Plastic hummingbird feeders are less likely to shatter if dropped, which is their main benefit overall. A main downside to plastic feeders is the fact that they often contain BPA and they warp, fade, and crack under high heat conditions over time, or in the dishwasher.

Which material suits your needs best is the better option for you, however, we recommend a sturdy, clear glass feeder for the best experience.

Tips for Selecting a Hummingbird Feeder

Choosing a hummingbird feeder can be a daunting task if you are prone to overthinking and over-researching every purchase. Fortunately, when considering the right factors and needs, it can be easy to make the decision.

Hummingbird Feeder Types: Vacuum or Dish Feeders

While there are many creative hummingbird feeder designs, each one will fall into one of two categories: bottle, or vacuum feeders, and secondly, saucer, or dish feeders. 

Vacuum or bottle feeders work by taking a cylinder, or bottle, and inverting it, allowing it to fill a base which then connects to feeding ports which the hummingbirds can stick their tongues into to lap up the sweet liquid inside. These feeders are easy to clean, but if the vacuum inside the bottle is released for any reason, it can leak, attracting insects and other unwanted dinner guests. 

Saucer or dish feeders are designed to serve as a reservoir of nectar. Hummingbirds probe down into the nectar ports with their tongues to reach the sweet liquid in the bowl-shaped reservoir. These feeders are unfortunately harder to clean, but they often look a lot nicer than the typical bottle feeder.

Saucer feeders are unlikely to leak unless they are disturbed by strong winds or larger animals, so they work best in quiet, low-disturbance areas and against corners often shielded by strong winds.

Plenty O’ Ports and Perches

The best hummingbird feeders come with feeding ports which allow the bids to sip nectar with their long tongues. If you are planning for plenty of hummingbirds, then you may want to consider purchasing feeders with large reservoirs and plenty of nectar ports.

Four to six ports is usually the maximum for

Keeping the Nectar Ports Away from Insects

Some feeders come with bee nectar guards which protect the nectar and raise the port to prevent insects from getting at the nectar inside. Hummingbirds can still drink from ports with these bee guards attached because their tongues extend much further into the port than insects can reach.

Do You Need Perches?

Yes, perches are recommended but they are not necessary. Hummingbirds tend to hover if they are just stopping by for a quick drink, however, particularly tired birds, or those who are stopping in for a long repose at the feeder will be grateful for the place to rest.

Some of the best hummingbird feeders will feature large reservoirs and easy cleaning functionality but skip the perches. If this is the case for the feeder you chose, be sure to place it near thin-branched trees with plenty of foliage cover so the hummingbirds feel comfortable. 

Consider the Material

The material of your hummingbird feeders will make a big difference in how you maintain the feeder, and how often you have to change the water. There are pros and cons to each type of feeder, and it’s important to consider which is important to you.

Easy-to-Clean

Hummingbird feeders must be cleaned every few days, so it’s important that you choose a feeder that is easy for you to clean without disrupting your everyday routine too much, especially if you plan to have multiple feeders.

Glass feeders are typically considered the easiest to keep clean, as they are often dishwasher safe. Avoid hand-painted hummingbird feeders as these are not typically dishwasher safe and may show wear over time with hot water.

Keep in mind that hummingbird feeders, no matter the material, should be scrubbed inside to remove any bacterial buildup or residue. There are special hummingbird feeder scrub brushes which can help you reach hard-to-get areas inside the feeder, particularly for those with odd shapes that a normal brush can’t reach well.

 Bright Colors

There is speculation that hummingbirds like the color red, so most hummingbird feeders will feature a red casing or tinted glass which is supposed to help attract birds. Of course, whether this is true is always difficult to tell. More studies are needed to determine whether hummingbirds have a color preference, especially since we are just beginning to research their behavior in areas of the color spectrum we cannot see.

One thing we do know, however, is that bright colors will always help attract hummingbirds because they use these colors to spot potential nectar sites while in flight. Bright reds may indeed help bring them to the feeder’s location, and from there, the birds easily rely on memory, visiting the feeder’s location even if it is down for a refill.

Size and Nectar Capacity

The best hummingbird feeders are the ones that are sized correctly for your needs. Most feeders range from 12 oz to 38 oz.

Too much nectar and you will be dumping a lot of nectar each time you change the liquid out.

Too little nectar and you will be making nectar and more frequently.

Most of the time, a good feeder recommendation is anywhere from 24 to 32-ounces, however, 12 and 16-ounce feeders make great casual feeders.

When in doubt, err on the side of a larger feeder capacity, as you can always finetune how much nectar you fill it with.

Where Should You Hang a Hummingbird Feeder?

It’s no secret that hummingbirds feel most at home among plants, foliage, and other hiding places that allows them to quickly dart away if needed. Where you hang your feeder should also be easy for you to access, since you will need to change the nectar out every few days.

You can place a hummingbird feeder near your home, such as along a covered porch or near a window, but any windows should be covered with bird-proof collision decals. Birds aren’t able to see glass as solid objects and can easily make the mistake of flying into windows and glass doors, so these decals help prevent bird injuries and deaths.

If you are attempting to hang more than one feeder – which we recommend for areas with large or varied hummingbird colonies – then you should hang them no closer than 50 feet apart. Despite their tiny size and adorable stature, hummingbirds are rather territorial and can start fights easily. It is often mistaken for playing, but males will fight over a prime nectar location. 

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What if You Don’t See Hummingbirds?

There are several reasons why hummingbirds might not be visiting your feeder. In most cases, it has nothing to do with the feeder itself, so long as the nectar is changed often and the feeder is clean.

If hummingbirds aren’t visiting your feeder, it might be the wrong time of year for them to be in the area; hummingbirds have very specific migration patterns, and some have been known to fly for hours on end to reach their destination. (2) Depending on where you live, you can see hummingbirds beginning in February, and in other areas, you might not have your first hummingbird sighting until May or even later in the year.

“Many hummingbirds spend the winter in Central America or Mexico, and migrate north to their breeding grounds in the southern U.S. and western states as early as February, and to areas further north later in the spring. The first arrivals in spring are usually males.

Some, however, do not migrate, in areas like California and the upper Pacific coast.”

Hummingbird Central

Other reasons why you might not see hummingbirds at your feeder is that there are too many other sources of nectar around. If there is an abundance of pollinator-friendly foliage, such as nectar-filled annual and perennial flowers, you might be able to spot hummingbirds in those areas, instead.

Keeping Bees and Ants Away from Your Feeder

Feeders full of sugar water attract hummingbirds, but they also attract a wide range of other unwanted guests. While these “pests” are still vitally important to the eco-system, you might not want to get up close and personal with wasps, ants, and bees.

Likewise, if you have ever owned a hummingbird feeder before, you know how much of a pain it can be for the few ants that always get stuck inside the sugar water solution, causing a significant bacterial bloom inside the liquid.

Luckily, there are a few ways you can deter these creatures from your hummingbird feeder without traps and other unwarranted damage to your local ecosystem.

Below are some tips to keeping bees and ants away from your feeder successfully:

  1. Choose Saucer Feeders

Hummingbirds have long tongues which enable them to reach deep into a saucer feeder, which would be much more difficult for insects.

  1. Red VS. Yellow

There is a common idea that hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, which is why a lot of pre-made hummingbird nectar has red dye additives. While this might help hummingbirds first spot a new feeder, it is unnecessary in the nectar, and studies have not conclusively shown whether hummingbirds prefer one color over another.

In fact, hummingbirds can see many colors that we cannot see, and primarily use those colors to help them identify a good meal. (3) No matter what, they always seem to find the nectar in a well-placed hummingbird feeder.

“The perception of color relies on cone cells in the retina, each of which responds to different wavelengths of light. Humans have three kinds of cone cells, […] Birds, however, have four types of cones, including one that is sensitive to ultraviolet light.”

NyTimes

Yellow, on the other hand, seems to be the preferred color for bees and wasps. Again, while there are not many studies on this particular subject, anecdotal evidence suggests that wasps and bees are more attracted to bright yellows.

The idea behind preferred colors makes sense, as hummingbirds, bees, and wasps are all looking for one common thing: nectar. Bees and wasps may be more attracted to bright yellow and white blooms, while hummingbird nectar flowers are predominately red and pink.

  1. Attach an Ant Moat

For most hummingbird feeders, an ant moat will suffice to keep ants at bay. Ants cannot swim, so they would not be able to cross the water to get to the nectar. Some hummingbird feeders already come with an ant moat, otherwise, you can purchase ant moats separately which are used as a feeder hook.

  1. Hang Feeders with Fishing Line

Ants are able to climb many things, but fishing line proves too thin for their wide bodies, even for ants that figure out how to float across ant moats. This can easily be done by hanging the fishing line then attaching a small eyelet to the end, where you will place your hummingbird feeder. This allows you to still remove your feeder frequently for nectar and cleaning, all while keeping ants away.

  1. Plant Friendly Nectar Flowers Nearby

Plant nectar rich, brightly-colored flowers in your yard to keep the bees busy. These flower choices can range from white clover, to trumpet vines, impatiens, and bee balm. Your yard will soon be buzzing will all sorts of life. With the abundance of food sources, your hummingbirds will enjoy less competition at the feeder.

  1. Provide Additional Nectar Spots for Insects

Insects are still a valuable part of your local ecosystem, helping keep everything in balance in your backyard garden. If you want to protect your hummingbird’s feeder, place a yellow or white feeder elsewhere in the yard where insects can dine more easily. This will help deter them from your hanging feeder while still providing them with proper nutrition.

What is the Best Hummingbird Nectar?

To make the best hummingbird nectar, it is important to understand what hummingbirds need. They need refined, undyed sugar and water without any additives in it. Hummingbird’s systems are sometimes easily taxed, and additional substances such as chlorine and fluoride in tap water, or extra minerals in mineral water can cause an imbalance in their nutrition, proving harmful to their overall diet.

The best hummingbird nectar is refreshed often to prevent any mold or bacterial growth on the inside of the container and in the liquid medium.

You only need two ingredients for the best hummingbird nectar: refined sugar and distilled or properly filtered water. No dyes or additives are required.

Cleaning your hummingbird feeder is an important part of keeping it fresh and keeping hummingbirds coming back. Unfortunately, sugar water is the perfect breeding ground for a variety of bacteria, so if you don’t clean the feeder and change the nectar frequently, hummingbirds are more likely to contract bacterial ailments from growths inside and around the nectar.

References
  1. Stylelist, Create a Gorgeous Hummingbird Garden with These Simple Tips, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-attract-hummingbirds_n_1521925
  2. com, Hummingbird Migration, https://www.hummingbirdcentral.com/hummingbird-migration.htm
  3. NyTimes, Hummingbirds Navigate an Ultraviolet World We Never See, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/19/science/hummingbirds-color-vision.html

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About Destynnie K. Berard
I am a lifelong naturalist who believes a good sense of humor is essential to staying happy. ★ After traveling for years, I settled in New England, falling in love with the diverse landscape the Northeast has to offer, and began pursuing conservation in earnest. ★ My career background is in enterprise marketing and communications, which provides me with a unique perspective of ecological relationships.

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