How much nectar does a Hummer drink a day?

How much nectar does a Hummer drink a day?

Joined: November 25th, 2008, 1:11 am

November 25th, 2008, 1:24 am #1

Howdy,

Curious how much hummers drink every day? I've got three large feeders (2-32 oz and 1-48 oz Perky Pets) that I fill every day (during the summer I add a fourth feeder as needed). That's about 112 oz per day of nectar out of 18 feeding perches.

They are almost all Anna's, although I have a few migratory Rufous swing through spring and fall as they migrate. I live in the SF East Bay next to park lands at a top of a hill, so get a lot of transient birds passing by that are attracted to my prominent feeders. I also have a lot of Lantana and a few other plants that the birds like, so plenty to get their interest.

Feeders are visited continuously throughout the day. I've never counted how many hummers (too many to keep count), but I'd guess at least 40. But I'm not sure that's accurate as it sure seems a lot of nectar for each hummer to drink every day.

The feeders are located at tree top height, so a lot of hummers perch on the top branches only a few feet away all day long (except on the very hottest days).

Anyone have a good idea how many are likely to visit consume that much nectar?
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Joined: September 5th, 2004, 1:22 pm

November 25th, 2008, 5:14 am #2



See this article on Hummingbird eating habits:

http://www.hummingbirds.net/hainsworth.html



-
Cheers,Bob

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6a
Lexington,Ky.
It's Autumn!
Regards,
Bob
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Joined: November 25th, 2008, 1:11 am

November 25th, 2008, 5:59 am #3

Howdy,

Curious how much hummers drink every day? I've got three large feeders (2-32 oz and 1-48 oz Perky Pets) that I fill every day (during the summer I add a fourth feeder as needed). That's about 112 oz per day of nectar out of 18 feeding perches.

They are almost all Anna's, although I have a few migratory Rufous swing through spring and fall as they migrate. I live in the SF East Bay next to park lands at a top of a hill, so get a lot of transient birds passing by that are attracted to my prominent feeders. I also have a lot of Lantana and a few other plants that the birds like, so plenty to get their interest.

Feeders are visited continuously throughout the day. I've never counted how many hummers (too many to keep count), but I'd guess at least 40. But I'm not sure that's accurate as it sure seems a lot of nectar for each hummer to drink every day.

The feeders are located at tree top height, so a lot of hummers perch on the top branches only a few feet away all day long (except on the very hottest days).

Anyone have a good idea how many are likely to visit consume that much nectar?
Bob,

Great link.

I always wondered if I could safely increase the 1:4 ratio to lessen the volume of nectar I need to put out every day - it can be a hassle making sure the hummers are fed every day since I don't like putting out nectar more than a day at a time (the feeders are in full sun with southwest exposure - in summers, the feeders are in direct sunlight about 14 hours a day and fermentation can start very quickly.

It will also allow the hummers can relax a bit more btw feedings and allow all who want to feed a better chance.

Cheers


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Joined: August 23rd, 2006, 5:48 am

November 25th, 2008, 6:57 am #4

Howdy,

Curious how much hummers drink every day? I've got three large feeders (2-32 oz and 1-48 oz Perky Pets) that I fill every day (during the summer I add a fourth feeder as needed). That's about 112 oz per day of nectar out of 18 feeding perches.

They are almost all Anna's, although I have a few migratory Rufous swing through spring and fall as they migrate. I live in the SF East Bay next to park lands at a top of a hill, so get a lot of transient birds passing by that are attracted to my prominent feeders. I also have a lot of Lantana and a few other plants that the birds like, so plenty to get their interest.

Feeders are visited continuously throughout the day. I've never counted how many hummers (too many to keep count), but I'd guess at least 40. But I'm not sure that's accurate as it sure seems a lot of nectar for each hummer to drink every day.

The feeders are located at tree top height, so a lot of hummers perch on the top branches only a few feet away all day long (except on the very hottest days).

Anyone have a good idea how many are likely to visit consume that much nectar?
Paul, I've tried using 1:3 mixture as opposed to 1:4 mixture but the usage stayed about the same for me. 1:3 gets pricey if you use a lot of nectar.. especially if you feed year round.

I fill daily, but I hang just enough feeders to make sure each is refilled once every 2 days. Right now I have 6 feeders up because they empty 3 a day. Sometimes they have a "favorite" spot and empty that one every day, so I just switch them around to make sure none last long enough to start getting algae and bacteria forming.

**********
Farmer Steve
Deluz, CA (hand-grown CA avocados) usda zone 10a
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Joined: May 5th, 2007, 5:30 pm

November 26th, 2008, 4:13 am #5

Howdy,

Curious how much hummers drink every day? I've got three large feeders (2-32 oz and 1-48 oz Perky Pets) that I fill every day (during the summer I add a fourth feeder as needed). That's about 112 oz per day of nectar out of 18 feeding perches.

They are almost all Anna's, although I have a few migratory Rufous swing through spring and fall as they migrate. I live in the SF East Bay next to park lands at a top of a hill, so get a lot of transient birds passing by that are attracted to my prominent feeders. I also have a lot of Lantana and a few other plants that the birds like, so plenty to get their interest.

Feeders are visited continuously throughout the day. I've never counted how many hummers (too many to keep count), but I'd guess at least 40. But I'm not sure that's accurate as it sure seems a lot of nectar for each hummer to drink every day.

The feeders are located at tree top height, so a lot of hummers perch on the top branches only a few feet away all day long (except on the very hottest days).

Anyone have a good idea how many are likely to visit consume that much nectar?
According to Sheri Williamson, author of "Hummingbirds of North America," she writes that 8 ounces of sugar water solution (4:1, I think she is talking about) will meet the energy needs of 40-60 birds for one day. That means that if you are using 112 ounces of 4:1 sugar water solution, daily, you may well be feeding somewhere between 560-840 birds a day--if I have my math right! Wow!! Of course, I would think their energy needs could fluctuate quite a bit depending on the outside temperatures, and if they are trying to fatten up for a migration. Still, I suppose that's a good ballpark estimate.

You might even have more birds than that. They could be meeting some of their needs by feeding at someone else's house, or garden, or snacking on wildflowers growing nearby. That's really mind boggling that you could have so many.
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Joined: August 23rd, 2006, 5:48 am

November 26th, 2008, 5:14 pm #6

Howdy,

Curious how much hummers drink every day? I've got three large feeders (2-32 oz and 1-48 oz Perky Pets) that I fill every day (during the summer I add a fourth feeder as needed). That's about 112 oz per day of nectar out of 18 feeding perches.

They are almost all Anna's, although I have a few migratory Rufous swing through spring and fall as they migrate. I live in the SF East Bay next to park lands at a top of a hill, so get a lot of transient birds passing by that are attracted to my prominent feeders. I also have a lot of Lantana and a few other plants that the birds like, so plenty to get their interest.

Feeders are visited continuously throughout the day. I've never counted how many hummers (too many to keep count), but I'd guess at least 40. But I'm not sure that's accurate as it sure seems a lot of nectar for each hummer to drink every day.

The feeders are located at tree top height, so a lot of hummers perch on the top branches only a few feet away all day long (except on the very hottest days).

Anyone have a good idea how many are likely to visit consume that much nectar?
Math is right Kristen, but I have a hard time accepting those numbers. Sounds like Paul and myself have similar consumption. That would mean we would have thousands of hummingbirds in the summer when I'm using 2 gallons a day. And like you mention, there are plenty of other sources of nectar here in CA which would make the numbers even higher.

Anna's are rather large hummingbirds... perhaps they are more like SUVs of the hummingbird world and get less mpg.

(thinking out loud... if an SUV gets 10 mph vs. my Prius which gets 50 mph, then that is only 1/5th as many, so the real number is probably somewhere in the middle as usual)

**********
Farmer Steve
Deluz, CA (hand-grown CA avocados) usda zone 10a
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Joined: May 5th, 2007, 5:30 pm

November 26th, 2008, 8:14 pm #7

Howdy,

Curious how much hummers drink every day? I've got three large feeders (2-32 oz and 1-48 oz Perky Pets) that I fill every day (during the summer I add a fourth feeder as needed). That's about 112 oz per day of nectar out of 18 feeding perches.

They are almost all Anna's, although I have a few migratory Rufous swing through spring and fall as they migrate. I live in the SF East Bay next to park lands at a top of a hill, so get a lot of transient birds passing by that are attracted to my prominent feeders. I also have a lot of Lantana and a few other plants that the birds like, so plenty to get their interest.

Feeders are visited continuously throughout the day. I've never counted how many hummers (too many to keep count), but I'd guess at least 40. But I'm not sure that's accurate as it sure seems a lot of nectar for each hummer to drink every day.

The feeders are located at tree top height, so a lot of hummers perch on the top branches only a few feet away all day long (except on the very hottest days).

Anyone have a good idea how many are likely to visit consume that much nectar?
Those are good points you raise, Steve. I don't know what sort of hummingbird Sheri was talking about when she gave those figures. Probably Ruby-throats, and those are very small hummingbirds. I went and looked up the comparative weights of the two species. Anna's weigh maybe 4.25g on average, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds weigh about 3.59g on average (I just averaged the weights of both sexes).

That means Anna's weigh about 118% more than Ruby-throats, or Ruby-throats are about 84% as heavy, depending on how you want to look at it. However, unlike cars, I'll bet Anna's are actually more efficient with their metabolism per unit of body weight than the smaller Ruby-throats, which have so much surface area compared to their mass, and so lose more body heat. Anna's probably don't drink 118% more nectar than Ruby-throats even though they average that much larger.

Still, with the amounts of nectar you guys are using, I think it's safe to say you must have hundreds of individual hummingbirds--maybe about 80% or so fewer than the number I posted earlier, but still a lot. When I did this calculation for myself awhile back, I figured I only had dozens, which is still a lot compared with what I see at any given time. Is there any way you could be losing some to evaporation, or insects, or other birds? I know I keep asking myself that question. I do have a wee bit of leakage, but it's not very much. I certainly don't see dozens of birds all at one time, but that doesn't mean there aren't that many.

That really does boggle my mind that I could have dozens and you could have hundreds of birds, but how else can we explain the losses of sugar water on a daily basis? Again, WOW! I can't get over it. I keep thinking I must be doing my math wrong, or making some wrong assumption.
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Joined: January 5th, 2008, 12:33 am

November 27th, 2008, 12:39 am #8

Howdy,

Curious how much hummers drink every day? I've got three large feeders (2-32 oz and 1-48 oz Perky Pets) that I fill every day (during the summer I add a fourth feeder as needed). That's about 112 oz per day of nectar out of 18 feeding perches.

They are almost all Anna's, although I have a few migratory Rufous swing through spring and fall as they migrate. I live in the SF East Bay next to park lands at a top of a hill, so get a lot of transient birds passing by that are attracted to my prominent feeders. I also have a lot of Lantana and a few other plants that the birds like, so plenty to get their interest.

Feeders are visited continuously throughout the day. I've never counted how many hummers (too many to keep count), but I'd guess at least 40. But I'm not sure that's accurate as it sure seems a lot of nectar for each hummer to drink every day.

The feeders are located at tree top height, so a lot of hummers perch on the top branches only a few feet away all day long (except on the very hottest days).

Anyone have a good idea how many are likely to visit consume that much nectar?
Hi All,

This is an interesting topic to me. Don't know if this helps in any way, but as a hummingbird rehabilitator, I have to continuously monitor the daily consumption of the hummers I have in rehab, in order to calculate the amount of meds I have to add to their food, monitor their progress, etc.

Here's what I've noted for rubythroated hummingbirds (which is what I predominantly rehab):

An adult sick, unflighted, but eating hummingbird consumes 4-6 ml (or less) in a 12-hour "day" (e.g. birds with disease, septicemia, fungal infections etc.)

An "otherwise healthy, but unflighted" adult hummingbird consumes 7-10 ml per day (e.g. birds with wing or trauma injuries)

An "adult, flighted" recovered hummingbird consumes 10-15+ ml per day.

I've had very active flighted adults eat as much as 20-22 ml per day just prior to release back into the wild.

Now bear in mind, this is in a captive environment, so these amounts may not correlate at all to what they consume in the wild or at feeders.

Connie Sale


Connie & Wilton Sale
218 Scarlett Drive
Chesapeake, VA 23322
757-482-4796
State and Federal Permits
WildLife Response, Inc.
NWRA, IWRC
Hummingbirds and Small Passerines
humnchirp@verizon.net
http://www.wildliferesponse.org/
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Joined: August 23rd, 2006, 5:48 am

November 27th, 2008, 1:11 am #9

Howdy,

Curious how much hummers drink every day? I've got three large feeders (2-32 oz and 1-48 oz Perky Pets) that I fill every day (during the summer I add a fourth feeder as needed). That's about 112 oz per day of nectar out of 18 feeding perches.

They are almost all Anna's, although I have a few migratory Rufous swing through spring and fall as they migrate. I live in the SF East Bay next to park lands at a top of a hill, so get a lot of transient birds passing by that are attracted to my prominent feeders. I also have a lot of Lantana and a few other plants that the birds like, so plenty to get their interest.

Feeders are visited continuously throughout the day. I've never counted how many hummers (too many to keep count), but I'd guess at least 40. But I'm not sure that's accurate as it sure seems a lot of nectar for each hummer to drink every day.

The feeders are located at tree top height, so a lot of hummers perch on the top branches only a few feet away all day long (except on the very hottest days).

Anyone have a good idea how many are likely to visit consume that much nectar?
Thanks for the additional input Connie. So if we use 21 ml a day for active rubythroats, that would be around 180 birds per gallon of nectar or about .71 oz. per rubythroat.

I'm starting to believe these numbers.

**********
Farmer Steve
Deluz, CA (hand-grown CA avocados) usda zone 10a
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Joined: May 5th, 2007, 5:30 pm

November 27th, 2008, 2:28 am #10

Howdy,

Curious how much hummers drink every day? I've got three large feeders (2-32 oz and 1-48 oz Perky Pets) that I fill every day (during the summer I add a fourth feeder as needed). That's about 112 oz per day of nectar out of 18 feeding perches.

They are almost all Anna's, although I have a few migratory Rufous swing through spring and fall as they migrate. I live in the SF East Bay next to park lands at a top of a hill, so get a lot of transient birds passing by that are attracted to my prominent feeders. I also have a lot of Lantana and a few other plants that the birds like, so plenty to get their interest.

Feeders are visited continuously throughout the day. I've never counted how many hummers (too many to keep count), but I'd guess at least 40. But I'm not sure that's accurate as it sure seems a lot of nectar for each hummer to drink every day.

The feeders are located at tree top height, so a lot of hummers perch on the top branches only a few feet away all day long (except on the very hottest days).

Anyone have a good idea how many are likely to visit consume that much nectar?
That's very interesting, Connie, and very useful in making sense of all of this. Your figures on amount of sugar water drunk per bird, per day come out higher than Sheri's, resulting in more believable numbers--ie, lower numbers of birds present. Of course, that assumes the birds are getting all or most of their needs from our feeders and not drinking very much from other nectar sources. Then again, the wild birds might consume even more than your captive birds from all that flying around in the great big world. I wonder if Sheri's numbers came from studies of wild birds that were not wholly dependent on feeders, so were drinking less from these artificial sources and more from flowers plus bugs. Her figures come out to roughly only 4-6mL per bird per day. I guess if Sheri sees this, she can chime in!

I agree those hundreds and hundreds of bird totals I was coming up with were hard to swallow. If you assume 22mL drunk per day for an active, free living hummingbird, then it works out that 150 birds would consume 112 ounces (=3311mL) per day. That's pretty much what Steve was coming up with. Does that seem believable for you, Steve? Goodness, your place must be swarming with them! Still, it does seem more believable. Of course, if they're getting half of their food elsewhere, maybe there really are several hundred a day. It's hard to know for sure. There are so many variables.

At my peak of the season, I may go through (now don't laugh, Steve!) about 150mL of 4:1 sugar water per day. If I use your 22mL/day figure, Connie, that would come out to maybe 6 or 7 different individuals visiting during the course of a day, here in my western PA garden. It could be more if they're also feeding at flowers. These figures seem so much more sensible and believable. If I use Sheri's figures, I might be getting more like 30 birds a day. The most I have ever seen at one time is 4, so 6 or 7 isn't much of a stretch at all, but 30? A dozen I could believe, but 30 just doesn't seem likely.

Gotta go bake pies!
Last edited by Kristinbirds on November 27th, 2008, 2:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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