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Worth the Price of Sugar

We have a lot of hummingbird activity this summer (2022). The breed in this area is exclusively Ruby Throated Hummingbirds. While there are not as many of the 'little monsters' as our peak summer, it is close. We are making 2 or 4 quarts of sugar water each day, and there is a half pound of sugar in each quart. This first photograph gives a view of the scene on August 10th. You can easily see 3 birds perched on the feeder and another one landing, plus 4 others in the air (one below the feeder). If you look closely, you will see another hummingbird in the upper left by the cord, another on the tree branch on the right, and probably a few more in the distance.

hummingbird feeder with some Ruby Throated Hummingbirds feeding and some flying

Hummingbirds are not very social, but when it gets that busy they will share a port.

hummingbird feeder with a couple of birds sharing one port

Unfortunately fresh bird droppings are not an ideal fertilizer for the lawn.

hummingbird feeder with many birds around it, including one pooping

At the beginning of the season, we put out one small feeder and then increase in feeder size and quantity as the population builds. There were 3 40-ounce feeders up at this point: one on the north edge of the deck, one on the east edge, and one on the south. The north feeder has an 'alpha male' who guards that spot and prevents other hummingbirds from drinking there. The east feeder has what we affectionately call the 'beta male'. He guards that feeder, but sometimes overflow from the south feeder overwhelms him. In this first video below you can see the crazy activity on the south feeder. The second video shows the south feeder and then pans across to the east and north feeders. You even catch a glimpse of the alpha male dive-bombing another hummingbird.

Because of the large number of hummers, we let the wild bird feeder go empty and then replaced it with a second south hummingbird feeder. This spread out the craziness slightly by providing more feeding ports in the busy section. This of course leads to a higher cost for sugar, but - as the title of this page says - it is worth it.

hummingbird feeder with the birds looking at one flying nearby

This next video shows both feeders up and active.

And finally one taken a few days later, on August 16, 2022. The hummingbirds will start migrating south soon, and activity will diminish rapidly starting in the last week of August as they switch to eating more insects in preparation for the long south-bound migration. Once September starts, the number of hummingbirds still in our area (Massachusetts) is vastly diminished. There will still be an occasional female hummingbird passing through; we have seen one here even into early October.

Update: Here are more videos, taken with the 'good'camera (you can see the quality difference). The first one has one feeder in focus but shows the other feeder in the background; the second video shows just one feeder. Notice the wasp that is visiting the feeder. Between a bee and a hummingbird, the bee always wins.

So, what was the price of sugar? The summer is not over, but considering how much we have bought & used already this year, we are expecting in total we will have used 70 pounds of sugar to feed those tiny little hummingbirds.

Updated August 2022