Is it OK to hand feed hummingbirds?

Answered by Ricardo McCardle

It is generally okay to hand feed hummingbirds. Hand feeding hummingbirds can be a unique and rewarding experience, allowing you to establish a closer connection with these incredible creatures. However, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind to ensure the safety and well-being of both you and the hummingbirds.

1. Familiarize Yourself with Hummingbird Behavior: Before attempting to hand feed hummingbirds, it is essential to understand their behavior and body language. Spend some time observing hummingbirds at your feeder or in your garden to learn about their feeding patterns, flight paths, and territorial behaviors. This will help you anticipate their movements and better interact with them during hand feeding.

2. Use the Right Feeder: While you can start hand feeding with just about any hummingbird feeder, using a handheld hummingbird feeder specifically designed for this purpose can enhance the experience. These feeders are typically smaller, allowing you to hold them comfortably in your hand. The Perky-Pet® Handheld & Tabletop Hummingbird Feeder, for example, is a great option for hand feeding.

3. Choose the Right Location: Select an area for hand feeding that is quiet, calm, and free from distractions. Hummingbirds can be easily startled, so it’s important to create a peaceful environment where they feel safe and comfortable approaching you. You may also want to consider wearing clothing in colors that attract hummingbirds, such as red or pink, to further entice them to come closer.

4. Be Patient and Still: Hand feeding hummingbirds requires patience and stillness. Find a comfortable position and hold the feeder steady, keeping your hand as still as possible. It may take some time for the hummingbirds to become accustomed to your presence and approach the feeder. Avoid sudden movements or loud noises that could startle them.

5. Offer Familiar Food: Fill your feeder with a nectar solution that mimics the natural nectar found in flowers. The ideal hummingbird nectar recipe is a mixture of four parts water to one part white granulated sugar (e.g., 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water). Avoid using honey, artificial sweeteners, or red food coloring, as these can be harmful to hummingbirds.

6. Extend Your Finger: Once the hummingbirds start approaching the feeder, you can extend your finger near the feeding ports to create a perch for them. This allows them to land and feed more comfortably. However, it’s important to note that hummingbirds have sharp beaks, so be cautious and avoid making any sudden movements.

7. Enjoy the Experience: Hand feeding hummingbirds can be a magical and awe-inspiring experience. Take the time to appreciate their beauty, delicate nature, and incredible flight abilities. Observe their vibrant colors up close and listen to the sound of their wings as they hover near your hand. Remember to stay calm and enjoy the moment.

Hand feeding hummingbirds can create a deeper connection between humans and these magnificent creatures. It allows us to witness their grace and beauty up close, fostering a sense of appreciation and understanding for the natural world. However, it’s important to approach hand feeding with respect and consideration for the hummingbirds’ well-being.