Hummingbird feeder mistakes — 7 common errors to avoid to keep these fabulous feathered friends happy

Swerve these hummingbird feeder mistakes and learn what to do instead

Hummingbird feeder mistakes are good to know. Here is a green and white hummingbird flying towards a glass hummingbird feeder with a glass container with clear liquid and a red base with yellow flowers on it
(Image credit: Getty Images / Joe Regan)

Swotting up on hummingbird feeder mistakes to avoid is a smart move if you want to welcome these feathered friends into your backyard to enjoy a bite, but aren't sure what is deterring them.

We've quizzed backyard and bird pros to find out why they might not be taking a snack break in your space. Simple snags include poor feeder placement to bigger issues like pests invading your feeder. No matter what the problem, our pros have the solutions.

If you want to attract hummingbirds to your backyard, finding out what they don't love is just as important as finding out how to invite them in. 

Fix these hummingbird feeder mistakes

Whether you want to entice hummingbirds to your balcony or to a larger space, these hummingbird feeder mistakes to swerve will come in useful.

We've also rounded up useful, highly-rated buys throughout to help you fix these problems.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article.

1. Picking the wrong feeder design

A red long hummingbird feeder with a brown and red hummingbird on the side of it, with a long tree branch and brick wall in the background

(Image credit: Getty Images / sanfel)

Just like us, hummingbirds have design styles that they much prefer than others. This means it can be a big hummingbird feeder mistake not choosing the right one.

“Some feeders are more attractive to hummingbirds than others,” explains Cyrille Adjalala, bird watcher and expert at Bird Watchers Hub.

“Look for feeders that are easy to clean, have perches, and are bright red, as this color is particularly appealing to them,” he explains.

These don’t need to cost a lot either — for example, the First Nature Hummingbird Feeder from Walmart is just $4.18, has over 900 five-star reviews, and keeps birds safe, too.

2. Making the wrong nectar recipe

A green and white hummingbird flying towards a glass hummingbird feeder with a glass container with clear liquid and a red base with yellow flowers on it

(Image credit: Getty Images / Joe Regan)

If you went to a restaurant and were served something you didn’t like, you probably wouldn’t go back, right? The same logic applies here to this hummingbird feeder mistake.

“Avoid using honey, artificial sweeteners, or red dye as these can be harmful to the birds,” Cyrille explains.

The best nectar recipe is actually simple — just use four parts water to one part white granulated sugar. 

3. Putting your feeder in the wrong location

A red hummingbird feeder with yellow flower decorations on it with six brown hummingbirds feeding from it and green leafy shrubs at the bottom

(Image credit: Getty Images / Carlos Luis Camacho Photographs)

This is the quickest hummingbird feeder mistake to fix, and it might be the only problem there actually is.

“Hummingbirds are more likely to visit feeders that are placed in a safe, convenient location,” Cyrille explains. “Hang the feeder in a shaded area near flowers or shrubs where they can easily spot it and find shelter."

For those who have created a shrubbery area to improve privacy in your backyard, this is a great way to enhance the aesthetic appearance of it. 

4. Having pests in the feeder

A blue and orange hummingbird standing on a bird feeder with a red base and glass bottle, with green shrubs in the background

(Image credit: Getty Images / Juniper_Berry)

We'll be real with you: much like us humans, hummingbirds don’t want to share their space or food with nasty pests.

“Ants, bees, and wasps can deter hummingbirds, which is why I always recommend using an ant moat above the feeder and choosing feeders with bee guards to minimize these pests,” Cyrille says.

For example, the Perky Pet Hummingbird Feeder from Amazon comes with two feeders, has a built-in ant moat and bee guard, and is made with robust glass.

Not sure what pests you're dealing with? Learning how to identify bugs will come in useful. For those who have done this and found out they have nasty creepy crawlies, it’s a good idea to find out how to get rid of ants quickly.

5. Not cleaning your feeder properly

A brown tree with green leaves with a red and clear glass hummingbird feeder hanging from it, with two hummingbirds feeding from it

(Image credit: Getty Images / Dennis Welker)

If your hummingbird feeder is dirty or the nectar is old, Cyrille says your feathered friends just won’t come near it.

“Hummingbirds are very sensitive to changes in the environment, so you need to keep that in mind when cleaning your feeder,” explains Jeremy Yamaguchi, backyard expert and CEO of Lawn Love.

“It's best to fill your sink with hot water and either vinegar or mild dishwashing liquid (such as basic Dawn Washing Liquid from Amazon, which is unscented and comes in a biodegradable bottle) and let the parts of the feeder soak,” he adds.

From here, simply use towels to dry them, then allow to air dry the rest of the way before reassembling.

6. Not having your feeder out at peak times

A light green hummingbird with a red and blue head, with a green background behind it

(Image credit: Getty Images / cglade)

When you’re refreshing your outdoor decor for warmer weather, make sure you get your hummingbird feeder out as soon as possible.

“Make sure your feeders are out early in the spring and keep them up until late fall. Migrating hummingbirds need reliable food sources during these times,” Cyrille says.

If you don’t want to forget next year, set a calendar reminder on your phone during the first month of spring to ensure it’s out straight away and local hummingbirds learn you have food on offer ASAP.

7. Not having flowers around the feeder

A dark green, blue and black hummingbird mid flight next to a tall orange and green flower with long petals

(Image credit: Getty Images / Photo by Priscilla Burcher)

It’s not just the color red that hummingbirds are attracted to. They love seeing beautiful blooms, which is why failing to bring flowers into your backyard ideas is a hummingbird feeder mistake you shouldn’t make. 

“Hummingbirds are attracted to brightly colored flowers, so planting native flowering plants in your backyard garden can help attract them,” explains Cyrille. 

Cyrille's favorites include bee balm, trumpet vine, and salvia. I like the look of the pretty Hirt’s Gardens Salvia from Walmart, which are tolerant to drought conditions — making them ideal for Hummingbird fans also looking for xeriscaping ideas.

By fixing these hummingbird feeder mistakes, you should be able to carry on bringing hummingbirds into your backyard, meaning you can enjoy their beauty and hear their lovely sounds.

If you want to get creative with your bird feeder, you could always DIY your own hummingbird feeder to add a unique focal point to your backyard.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.