I have tried just about every type of hummingbird feeder in existence over the years, from small ornate ones to the largest volume feeders available. I have settled on two types of feeder, dependent upon the population density, which is directly related to the season. Over winter and early spring, I use an excellent feeder, called the Humdinger. In summertime, when our peak population can reach 150 hummingbirds, I resort to the industrial strength DR JB’s feeders.
Humdinger Feeder: 32oz (ONLY!)
Suitable for lower population densities, which is most gardens in most cases, most of the year….
• It is available in bulk on Amazon from Turbine Industries, and they work out to be a little over $10 each.
• It has a two part base that is very easy to clean – it doesn’t have tight nooks and corners where bacteria can accumulate (unlike every Perky Pet feeder). The two parts of the base can be placed in the dishwasher with impunity.
• Has a 32oz glass bottle as the reservoir – so it can go in the dishwasher, and doesn’t degrade in the sun, like all of the plastic reservoir feeders. Yes, all of them…..
Cheap and long lasting. I have many of these feeders, and some have served me for more than 6 years.
While the glass bottle can go in the dishwasher, I recommend cleaning it by hand. Very hot water, with a dedicated brush for cleaning bottles. Just a drop or two of detergent and then thorough, thorough rinsing. Every month or two, give it a dose of bleach, but rinse, rinse, rinse and rinse again. Even a hint of bleach in the sugar water will be enough to kill a tiny hummingbird.
Humdinger now supply a 72oz feeder, which has a large plastic reservoir, however I recommend the Dr JB Feeder (below) for high volume reservoirs instead. The Humdinger version has a very narrow neck, and while the 32oz glass bottle is easy to clean with a suitable bottle brush, the larger plastic bottles prove almost impossible to get perfectly clean. This results in the accumulation of bacteria, and sick birds. Seen it, done it. Forget it.
Dr JB’s Hummingbird Feeder 80 oz (with 8 port base ONLY!)
When the hummingbird population in your garden is so high that it means you are filling bottles every day, it is time to change feeders to larger ones, and the only one I recommend is the Dr JB 80oz version with the 8 port base. This is an expensive feeder, but will last many years. It is also the best design for easy filling, and more importantly, easy cleaning. The base is two part and completely dishwasher safe. They also supply a 4 port base, but this should not be used with the 80oz reservoir because it will take way too long for the hummers to drink all the juice, such that it will be accumulating bacteria before it is empty. This is very important. The cleanliness of feeders can dictate the health of your local hummingbirds. Only use the 80oz feeder if you have a large population that will empty it quickly. An 8 port base enables this much more efficiently.
The company that produces these feeders boasts that the reservoir section of the feeder is also dishwasher safe. Unfortunately, this is nonsense. The plastic goes cloudy and brittle after just a few washes, the integrity of the feeder is reduced significantly. Wash the reservoir part by hand, just as for the Humdingers above. The great thing about the JB design is that the mouth of the reservoir is very wide, enabling very easy filling and cleaning. These feeders have been designed with the welfare of hummingbirds in mind, unlike every Perky Pet feeder. Don’t even go near those. And don’t even think of calling Perky Pets customer service…..
Lastly, another option you might consider is using a smaller Dr JB reservoir on the same 8 port base. I think they come in 16 and 48oz sizes. This is fine, however they work out to be significantly more expensive than the Humdingers. With sometimes up to 10 feeders dotted around my yard, this becomes a factor
Feeders NOT Recommended:
Any type of Perky Pet hummingbird feeder. Yes, I know they are the easiest ones to find/buy, and the ones that most people use, BUT, they are very poorly designed. It would appear the Perky Pets company does not have the welfare of hummingbirds in mind when it designs its feeders. Every single model is supremely difficult to clean. There are crevices, notches and nooks where bacteria can and does accumulate very quickly. Even a determined effort with a purpose-made hummingbird feeder brush cannot dislodge the gunk that can produce disease. My advice is to steer clear of those at all costs. Furthermore, Perky Pets also offer red powdered “Hummingbird Nectar”, which again exposes their lack of compassion for animal welfare. Various texts on hummingbirds cite that the food coloring used in artificial hummingbird nectar is in fact carcinogenic to the birds.
Oh, and if you contact their customer support folks, expect a rude response – seems like they like their customers even less than hummingbirds.