Can Hummingbird Nectar Get Too Hot?
Hummingbirds are beloved staples of spring and summer, and with the right flowers and hummingbird feeders, you can attract these tiny birds to your domicile over and over again.
Hummingbirds have great memories and will always come back to places they know that will offer them something to eat, but what if the nectar you make your flying friends becomes too hot? Can hummingbird nectar get too hot?
Yes, hummingbird nectar can get too hot for them to drink, and hot hummingbird nectar can irreparably damage the bird feeder. If the hummingbird nectar is too hot for you to touch, it is too hot for a hummingbird to drink.
Making bird food for these fast-flying dynamos can be rewarding, and watching these glorious little backyard birds throughout the warmer months is something everyone enjoys, but we can’t fill a hummingbird feeder and leave it alone like we can birdseed feeders.
In this post, we’ll talk about whether hummingbird food can get too hot and what temperatures hummingbirds prefer their food to be.
Can Hummingbird Nectar Get Too Hot?
If a hummingbird is hungry enough, they will tolerate almost any nectar temperature just to fill their bellies. A hummingbird’s wings beat so rapidly, from anywhere between 10 and 80 beats a second, that they need to be eating almost constantly to replenish the calories their fast flight will burn.
This constant need to eat means that hummingbirds will be more than happy to repeatedly visit a reliable hummingbird feeder, especially if it is filled daily. Yet sometimes, this can be to their detriment in the heat of the summer.
Hummingbird nectar can get too hot during the hottest parts of the summer. This can cause many problems, including fermentation of the nectar, burns on the hummingbird, and damage to the hummingbird feeder.
Unfortunately for hummingbirds, they have a hard time telling if nectar is too hot or has already fermented and will willingly drink tainted or burning nectar that can injure them, make them ill, or even kill them. This means it’s up to us to keep our feeders clean and full of cool, fresh nectar so our hummingbird friends stay safe.
How Do You Keep Hummingbird Nectar Cool?
Luckily, even if we live in places where temperatures during the summer can reach nearly 100℉, there are ways to keep our hummingbird feeders and the nectar within cool. During the springtime, the nectar is less likely to get super hot, but keep these ideas in mind for when temperatures start to creep up past 75℉.
Here are some ways to keep your hummingbird feeder nectar cool:
Always Hang Your Feeder In The Shade
Temperatures in the shade are 10° to 15° cooler than in the sun, so placing your hummingbird feeder somewhere shady is an easy way to make a big difference.
Use Glass Hummingbird Feeders
Glass hummingbird feeders might be more expensive than their plastic counterparts, but they are much thicker and help keep out excess heat. A glass feeder will also last longer than a plastic feeder and is less likely to warp in extreme temperatures.
Freeze Nectar Into Ice Cubes
While not all hummingbird feeders will have a mouth big enough for nectar ice cubes, frozen nectar is a great way to start your nectar off cold and keep it cold throughout the day.
Wrap The Hummingbird Feeder In Foil
Aluminum foil is a great insulator, which means it will also keep the heat out of the hummingbird feeder when wrapped around it.
Change Your Nectar Daily And Keep Your Feeder Clean
Even though swapping out hot nectar for fresh cold nectar is a given for most hummingbird fans, during the summer, it’s even more imperative to change the nectar every single day. The nectar that becomes too hot can ferment and grow deadly bacteria.
Related Post: Are Hummingbirds Attracted To The Color Red?
Do Hummingbirds Like Warm or Cold Nectar?
In hot weather, cold nectar can be very refreshing for hummingbirds, and they will likely choose the cold nectar from your feeder over other feeders and flowers. You shouldn’t encourage nectar to get hot, even during the colder months, because of fermentation and bacterial growth.
For the most part, hummingbirds don’t have much preference about what temperature their sweet nectar should be. When drinking natural nectar out of flowers, the nectar will be the ambient temperate of the air around the flower: warmer during hot weather and cooler in early spring and late fall. To hummingbirds, either temperature of nectar is acceptable.
That being said, keeping the nectar in your hummingbird feeder cool during the hottest months can provide your tiny bird friends with something refreshing to drink that might be a relief after a long, hot day of constant flight.
While hummingbirds might like warmer nectar during colder times of the year, we shouldn’t warm nectar up or encourage it to become warm by putting feeders in the sun because warm and hot nectar is more likely to ferment or grow bacteria, which can be incredibly harmful to the hummingbirds.
Can Hummingbirds Drink Cold Nectar?
Yes, hummingbirds can drink cold nectar, but avoid giving it to them during the early spring and late fall when the air is colder outdoors because it can overly chill a hummingbird’s core body temperature.
Hot nectar is much more dangerous than cold nectar, but if it’s too cold outside for you to need a cool drink, it’s probably unpleasant for your hummingbird friends to drink cold nectar.
How Often Should You Change Hummingbird Food in Summer?
Hummingbird food should be changed daily during the hottest summer months when it is over 93°F.
Hummingbird food usually is just white sugar and water (4 parts water to 1 part sugar). The sugar provides hummingbirds with energy, and the water helps keep them hydrated. Avoid using dyes in your homemade nectar recipe or other sweeteners like brown sugar or honey.
This sugar water solution can quickly ferment, grow mold, or even grow deadly bacteria. Because of this, it’s imperative to change your hummingbird nectar before it becomes too hot for too long of a time.
- 70°-80°: Change every four days
- 81°-90°: Change every two days
- 93°F+: Change daily
If you’re going to be out of town or unable to change your nectar on time, take the nectar feeder down, wash it, and store it until you can maintain it regularly.
You can clean your hummingbird feeder with hot tap water or a weak vinegar solution.
Final Thoughts: Can Hummingbird Nectar Get Too Hot?
Attracting hummingbirds to your yard can be a fun and rewarding hobby, but it’s important to remember that these tiny backyard birds are very delicate. It’s crucial to take care of your hummingbird feeder and the nectar to ensure that the hummers get safe and clean food.
Remember that nectar can quickly become too hot, leading to fermentation, mold, and bacteria growth. To avoid this, make sure to change your hummingbird nectar frequently during the summer months and a few times a week during the spring and fall.