Hummingbird Myths Revealed

Do hummingbirds ride on geese? Find out as we separate hummingbird myths from hummingbird facts.

Attracting hummingbirds is easier when you know how to tell the truth from the fiction. Do hummingbirds ride on geese when they migrate south? Should I add red dye to my hummingbird nectar? Will it cause problems for migrating hummingbirds if I leave my feeder up in the fall? We took a closer look at some common hummingbird myths, and we’ve got the answers.

Hummingbird Myth: Hummingbirds hitch rides on the backs of geese as they migrate south.
Hummingbird Fact: This legend is entertaining, but untrue. Hummingbirds and Canada geese migrate at different times and to different destinations.

Myth: All hummingbirds migrate.
Fact: Most, but not all, hummingbirds migrate south for winter. The Anna’s hummingbird stays along the West Coast year-round.

Myth: Hummingbirds sip nectar through their bills like a straw.
Fact: Hummingbirds use their tongues to lap up nectar and sugar water at about 13 licks per second.

Myth: Adding red dye to sugar water will attract more hummingbirds.
Fact: It isn’t necessary to dye sugar water. Feeders with red part do the trick.

Myth: Hummingbirds’ only natural predators are other, larger birds.
Fact: Besides other birds like hawks, hummers have to watch out for cats, spiders, snakes and even frogs.

Myth: Leaving hummingbird feeders up late into fall delays migration south.
Fact: You won’t interfere with hummingbirds’ migration; they know to fly south as the days get shorter.

Myth: Hummingbirds eat only nectar and sugar water.
Fact: Insects and small spiders are also an important part of a hummingbird’s diet.

Myth: Hummingbirds feed only from red flowers.
Fact: While red blooms draw them in, these sweet-toothed fliers will gladly feed from any color flower that produces nectar.

  1. Snowflake says

    One of the best tricks to keep bees & wasps off the feeders, ants too is to use a little Vaseline and skin so soft. I use a cotton ball and dab around the feeder holes.

  2. marcel hildebrand says

    I’d like to know if the sugar water ferments in the hot weather, does it pose a danger for hummers to lose their balance or hit windows because they are drunk? I know that many other creatures like to wait for fruit to practically rot before they eat it just for this effect. Many other bird species have demonstrated this behaviour.

    • cowgirl says

      yes it does, feeders need to be cleaned and refilled every two to three days, daily if its really hot..bad sugar water can cause mold, which is deadly to hummers, the contract a fungal infection which causes their throats and tongues to swell up, making them unable to eat

    • Grace Pedalino says

      It is suggested that hummingbird water be changed every three days or so as they not only ferment, but grow mold which is toxic to the birds. You should thoroughly scrub out the feeder each time you change the water. As far as red dye, the dye is also toxic to the birds and completely unnecessary. As long as there is something red, even a red ribbon, the hummingbirds will find the feeder.

    • Beverly says

      You would probably need to worry about MOLD more than fermentation. Give the feeder a gently shake. If there’s ‘stuff” floating in the water, it’s time to change …. even if it’s only been 2 or 3 days. When it’s hot here in my little corner of the world, like it is now, I usually only put one cup into each of our 4 feeders. By the time it needs to be changed/cleaned, they’ve consumed most of it.

    • Kathy says

      Growth of bacteria and fungus in the sugar water has more of an effect on the birds than fermentation. It can be very dangerous. Change sugar water every day. Or plant flowers that attract hummingbirds if you can’t change water every day.

  3. Raechel says

    Praying Mantis prey on hummers! Surprised B&B failed to list them as there mag is where I first learned that!

  4. says

    my friend fills her hummer feeders with double the amount of sugar to water (4 cups water/2 cups sugar) and attracts many more birds and they empty the feeders in hours! Is this bad for the birds? We get so few at our feeder, I’m thinking of trying this, but don’t want to harm them. Expert advice, please?

  5. gloria says

    I live in a mountainous area in sw washington. We have Rufous, Ruby Throared, Annas, and calliope… and one i havent been able to identify yet .no matter how many feeders and flowers they still fight… we have 8 feeders so far…

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