Maintaining a Bird Nectar Feeder | BeCause Tees

How to Maintain a Bird Nectar Feeder

Bird nectar feeders are a fantastic way to attract and feed birds such as hummingbirds. However, keeping a nectar feeder maintained and clean can be a bit tricky, especially for new bird enthusiasts. Let's examine how to maintain a bird nectar feeder and why correct maintenance is vital. 

Is a Bird Nectar Feeder Actually Bad?

In theory, putting up a bird nectar feeder helps hummingbirds to find food and allows you to view them up close. It seems like it should be a mutually beneficial arrangement. However, you may have seen some alarming headlines about nectar feeders being bad for hummingbirds. By putting up such a feeder, could you be harming the birds without realizing it?

Hummingbird feeders themselves are not inherently bad for birds. What is bad for birds is when people don't take responsibility for the feeders or take extra steps that actually harm hummingbirds. By taking mindful care of your feeder, you can rest assured that you are helping the birds rather than hurting them.

Keep the Bird Nectar Feeder Clean

Hummingbird nectar is a sugary solution. If left outside for too long, it can spoil. Exposure to sunlight and heat can accelerate this process. Spoiled nectar can breed the following pathogens:

  • Bacteria
  • Mold
  • Mildew

Candidiasis is a disease that hummingbirds can develop due to mold exposure. It can cause them to starve to death because of tongue swelling.

As nectar spoils, it gives off a strong smell that can attract insect pests and hummingbird predators, such as raccoons or rats. You can prevent nectar from spoiling by cleaning, sterilizing, and refilling the feeder once a week in mild weather and once every two days when the temperature outside gets hot.

Check out our post How to Help Hummingbirds in Winter to learn more about bird nectar feeder maintenance during colder periods.

Don't Add Any Dye to the Nectar

Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red. For this reason, some people add red dye to their nectar to attract hummingbirds to the feeder. However, this may be harmful to hummingbirds. Scientific research has yet to prove that the current red dye negatively affects hummingbirds' health, but anecdotal evidence supports this theory.

The red dye is unnecessary, and it isn't worth using because of the risk of harm to hummingbirds. Choose a bird nectar feeder with some red on it and leave the nectar itself clear and pure.

Fill the Bird Nectar Feeder With the Proper Solution

You can make your own hummingbird nectar from scratch or buy it premade. Experts are divided on which is better. In either case, you should never add anything to the solution, and if you buy premade nectar, you should follow the directions on the package for mixing it with water, if needed, and filling the feeder.

If you make your own nectar, you have to be sure that it has just the right amount of sugar. Too little sugar and the birds won't receive enough sustenance, but too much can damage the hummingbirds' livers or kidneys. Use only pure white table sugar and boiled water and mix them in a ratio of 1-to-4.


Hummingbirds are delicate creatures that play an important role in the ecosystem. A properly maintained and filled bird nectar feeder is one way you can help them, but there is more you can do, including designing a hummingbird garden. All our delightful hummingbird designs can be found in our Pollinators Collection, with each purchase helping to support nonprofits, including Pollinator Partnership. For more ways to help pollinators, and why it's so important, check out our How to Help the Pollinators Ultimate Guide.


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