A hummingbird gives its wings a rare rest while feeding in a North Okanagan garden. (Karen Siemens photo)

A hummingbird gives its wings a rare rest while feeding in a North Okanagan garden. (Karen Siemens photo)

Hummingbird season is in full flight in the Okanagan

North Okanagan Naturalists Club shares tips to keep the beautiful birds coming back

By Karen Siemens

North Okanagan Naturalists Club

Another season is upon us. Aside from the rufous (red throat), calliope (magenta throat) and the black chinned (royal purple throat) you may also see an Anna’s (brilliant pink head and throat).

While the first three breed here the Anna’s did its breeding in February in the Lower Mainlaind and the coast.

The Anna’s appears to be pushing further inland and north and exploring these areas.

If you are unable to maintain a clean feeder and change food as often as required from April to August then please rely on the plants in your garden or hanging baskets.

Below are some hummingbird feeder hints:

Clean Feeders

• Clean with hot water (no soap).

• Feeder should be completely dismantled and feeding ports taken apart.

• Use a bottle brush for inverted feeders and pipe cleaners for the small holes.

• Every time you refill your feeder take it apart and rinse with hot water. Twice a week use the brush and pipe cleaners to ensure it’s clean.

• Black mould is a death sentence to hummingbirds. If there is any sign of it soak your feeder for one hour in a mixture of 1/4 cup bleach to one gallon of water. Rinse the parts several times in hot water to remove all traces of the bleach.

Feeder types

Glass feeders are the best. If you buy plastic make sure that it is Food Grade Plastic or UV Stabilized. This ensures there is no chemical leakage into the food they eat. Cheap plastic disintegrates and will contaminate the food.

Whether you use inverted feeders or the basin style make sure that the feeder can be completely dismantled for cleaning.


The best food for hummingbird feeders is made by you: one part white sugar to four parts water. Boil water in a pot then add sugar, or you may add boiling water from a kettle to sugar stir till it completely dissolves.

Cool to room temperature before filling feeder. You can store this in the fridge for seven days but warm to room temperature before filling feeder.

Never use brown sugar, honey or sugar substitutes as these contain components that will harm the birds.

Do not use red dye (the red on the feeder is all that is needed to attract them). Do not add scent.

Changing food

When temperature is 27C or above, change everyday.

When temperature is 26C or below change every three days.


Many people are spending more time in their gardens and if you are xeriscaping you can go to Okanagan Xeriscape and in their filter check ‘Hummingbird’ and it will give you a list of hummingbird-friendly plants. A few that are popular are bee balm, columbine, foxglove, honeysuckle and Russian Sage.

If you do not have a garden then hanging baskets are very attractive to hummingbirds with flowers like salvia, fuschia, snapdragons, verbena, nasturtium and the every popular petunia. Keep your hanging baskets out of reach of predators.

Settle into your favourite spot in your garden and watch as these little miracles perform their acrobatic skills while courting and feeding.